Sunday, May 10, 2009

Well, April has come and gone, and with it the great experiment on "Zero Spending." After crunching the numbers, I found that I managed to save a grand total of...$20. Now, this doesn't mean that the experiment was a failure; on the contrary, I consider it to be a qualified success.

Not spending any money on books, movies, music, magazines, etc etc turned out to be incredibly easy. I simply spent more time making use of what I already have. I played Xbox games I hadn't gotten out in over a year, and remembered how much fun they are--Especially Shadowrun, which is both infuriating and exhilarating at the same time.

Not paying to eat out was trickier, though ultimately doable. According to the records my bank is kind enough to keep for me, my grocery spending in April was $287.70, while my average monthly grocery bill for the last twelve months was $281.26 (which may be a little high, I bought some furniture at Walmart when we moved and that shows up under grocery spending). With some better planning, that should be easy to cut down.

My average restaurant spending over the last 12 months was $135.93; for April, that amount was $10.79, though again, that number is slightly inaccurate because while I made the purchase late on March 31, it didn't go through until April 1. Technically, I spent no money at all at restaurants in April.

12 month average spending for retail stores: $114.01. April's total: $0.00. Gasoline, Entertainment, and ATM withdrawals all saw decreases of 50% or more from March to April, and the only category that appears in April to be significantly higher in April compared to the 12 month average was "Checks Written." Again, though, a first glance is misleading, because prior to February, I was not writing checks for rent or utilities, so the 12 month average will not be a reliable number for some time to come. In all, my total cash outflow for April was slightly less than $250 less than the average over the last year.

So given all of this, why wasn't I able to save more? I cut down on all my expenses as I intended, so what happened? Unfortunately, late March through--well, last week, really--have been poor times at work, and my income was not as good as I'd hoped for a while. So while I was ultimately not able to save a significant amount, and the donation I'd hoped to make to charity fell through, I was able to pay all of my bills, and even make an extra-large payment on my student loans.

Frankly, that's enough for me. There was a time a few years ago when I would have spent whatever the hell I wanted on hamburgers and DVD's, and worried about my true obligations later, if at all. To have been able to comfortably pay all of my bills, on time, without worrying, is a huge step, and felt great.

So I think I'm going to try it again. Maybe for a longer period, too. August and September. And I don't feel the daily desire to hit McD's or the Greek restaurant, so while I didn't meet my stated goal, I did make some important changes.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd consider the experiment a great success. Sure, while the actual $$ might have been less than desired, it forced you to look back over the past spending and see exactly where the money was going.
Good job Matt!

11:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

who you kidding you spent most of your money feeding that fat cow you call a girlfriend.Everything on her is extra large but I dont have to tell you that I am sure you know.

7:06 AM  

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