It’s officially the final day of the 2015 January Money Diet.
I logged in to my bank’s website yesterday, and was pleased to see over $1000 remaining in my checking account. A month of very limited, essentials-only spending means that all my money doesn’t evaporate by the end of the month — what a concept!
If you’ve followed the diet, perhaps you’ve seen a similar benefit to taking a spending break.
Our fellow dieter Laura shared this comment yesterday: “With the money we saved this month and from selling a few things, we were able to put an additional $800 towards the student loan!” Hurray!
I am so proud of everything we’ve accomplished together this month. You have been the most engaged, generous group of money dieters yet, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you.
Since January 1, we’ve undertaken many efforts to stretch our money: we’ve been resourceful, we’ve used up what we already had, we’ve fixed things, we’ve planned our meals, we’ve saved energy, we’ve rediscovered the public library, and we’ve reviewed our ongoing monthly expenses.
Many of you generously gave things away, and decluttered your drawers and shelves in the process. We considered the beauty of a simple home, and collectively agreed that less is the new more.
Some efforts produced big results and others are small, but financial stability comes as a result of many efforts and thoughtful decisions, practiced faithfully over time. If we continue what we started together in this first month of 2015, I promise that these steps will add up and produce real, lasting change in our finances.
Thoughts About Spending
Many of us — including me — will continue to stay on a modified version of the money diet in the coming days. As needs arise, we will inevitably shop again. Perhaps we might ask ourselves these questions before handing over our hard-earned money:
Do I love it?
This is now my mantra for every single clothing purchase. Do I love this? Do I feel great when I wear it? Will I want to wear it for years to come? Do I need it? I no longer buy something just because it’s a good deal. I have to love it. Consequently, my wardrobe has shrunk quite a bit. For one thing I don’t go shopping that often, and when I do, I don’t often find clothing that I truly adore. But interestingly, my smaller cache of clothes is evolving into a better selection of nice pieces that I truly love to wear.
Can I plan for the purchase?
If your old hot water heater suddenly breaks, you’ll have to raid your emergency savings account and make a fast buying decision based on what’s in stock locally. On the other hand, if you know your water heater needs to be replaced and you have the luxury of a little time, you can research the best quality models on Consumer Reports (at the library, of course). You can figure out the exact size you need for your family, and choose whether you want a tank or an on-demand heater. You can comparison shop, and watch for sales. Best of all, you can save up the money for the water heater, and replace it before your old one breaks and causes damage and stress.
Can I wait?
I have a weakness for the light fixtures made by Rejuvenation. The designs are classic, the quality is first-rate, and the products are priced accordingly. For a few years I’ve been lusting after an Art Deco semi-flush light with reproduction slipper shades for my office. I created a custom search on eBay, and several times a week I receive e-mail notices about Rejuvenation light fixtures that are listed for a fraction of their original price. My exact fixture hasn’t been offered yet, but the hunt is part of the fun. In the mean time, I have a simple overhead light in my office that illuminates the room just fine.
By being willing to wait, I used this method nine years ago to purchase the exact energy-efficient ceiling fan I wanted for our kitchen at a deep discount; you can see the old and new fixture here.
Will this purchase lower our overhead?
Certain purchases might quickly pay for themselves in future savings — a rechargeable lawnmower that you use instead of paying a lawn service, for instance, or quality scissors that you use for kids’ haircuts.
Denver Water is currently offering rebates up to $150 for certain models of high-efficiency toilets. Some of the models are priced below $150, meaning that if I can figure out installation I can replace our privies practically for free and in turn save water and money. However, I’ve read that some models can require multiple flushes under certain conditions — which would cancel out the environmental and monetary advantages. Guess who will be researching toilets next month?
Can I innovate instead of spending money?
I love the Budget Living section of Apartment Therapy, where readers show their amazing hacks to transform spaces for little or no money. Lois at The Eco Grandma frequently posts about her own and others’ adventures in repurposing on her Thrifty Thursdays feature. Make it and Mend It has tons of DIY ideas. Figuring out a solution for little or no money can be not only fiscally rewarding, but personally satisfying.
How About You?
Did you achieve any specific results as a result of your participation in the January Money Diet? If so, we’d love to hear your experiences in the Comments section.
If you have excess cash left over as a result of saving all month, I challenge you to go stash it immediately in an inconvenient savings account, pay off debt, or invest the money before it drifts into the slush fund.
As you may remember, I have a special Happy Simple Living gift box for one lucky January Money Diet participant. The box includes a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card, $25 cash, pantry staples like bean soup mix and organic quinoa, signed copies of three of my cookbooks, homesteading supplies like soap, candles and eco-friendly cleaning supplies, and more.
I don’t know how I’ll choose just one of you, but early next week I will give away the box to one dieter who has participated in this 31-day challenge with heart and soul and achieved good results.
Let’s Continue What We Started
Although our month-long experiment is coming to an end, I look forward to continuing this journey with you in the year ahead. I’ll be sharing ideas and posting about my money-saving strategies in the coming months, and I encourage you to do the same.
If you have any ideas about how to improve next year’s January Money Diet, I’d love to hear from you at elizagcross (at) gmail (dot) com.
Hugs and high fives to each and every one of you,
P.S. If you survived the 2015 January Money Diet, you’re entitled to post this badge wherever you like. (To copy, right-click the graphic with your mouse and save the image):
Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of seven books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.