I have some of my favourite blog posts bookmarked that I go back to and read over and over again to keep myself motivated. Browsing them this past weekend, one such article was by the ever-amazing Mr Money Mustache, in which he says every expense you reduce has double benefit – it increases the amount of money you have each month to put into savings, plus it also lowers the amount you need every month for the rest of your life. #Mindblown
This time around, the more I read it, the more I wanted to live by that philosophy. To be honest, although I brag about being a personal finance nerd, I have never been frugal. I rarely live cheaply. Whatever I have is high quality and cost a pretty buck – I just have never pushed myself personally to live uncomfortably to save money. I am conscious but not cheap. I have always been able to control my lifestyle by wanting less. So I indulge myself with a Starbuck’s hot chocolate whenever I want, buying books whenever I want, buying good clothes whenever I want, but wanting less in the first place.
But over the last one year I have sort of got too comfortable with my expenses. Not that these expenses have led to any debt or lack of saving. But still it has been bothering me that I am so comfortable with so many good things. I have started to wonder if I should pull back a bit and start putting myself uncomfortable and realign my lifestyle in terms of my expenses. Maybe go a month without hot chocolate? Not buy any books before I finish reading all that I already have? Really confront if I can live on less than I already do? Can I reduce the things I need in life right now so that I accelerate my retirement savings now and then learn to live on less in the future?
This is why I am planning a “Frugal Month” with a goal of living on 50% or less of my net salary in February 2019. I will be basically living bare bones and only buying/spending on stuff that are necessities. I usually have a clear idea how much I spend on my non-negotiable expenses (groceries, commute, bills etc). I want to reduce my frivolous expenses – clothes, Starbucks, eating out, books. Keeping a hawk-eye on these expenses will be the real goal and trying to divert the funds to savings instead. The purpose of this experiment is simple – live on less now to save money for retirement and learn to live on less for the future. The rules are simple and same as Cait Flanders ‘Shopping Ban’ – just spend on essentials and let go of all other expenses. End result should be saving 50% of my salary.
Of course it is not as straight and easy. Keeping a track of expenses is the easiest part (I already do it) but changing the behaviour and self talk around my triggers is what I have to keep tab on. There is also a possibility of some unexpected costs, emergency that may come up. But overall, I think I can do this. Feeling overall positive.
I will try to keep a weekly track on this blog for my sake to see if it can help me week-on-week in planning my overall month in terms of spending. But no promises, I might have a chaotic month and things may go downhill. We will have to see!