Things I’ve Learned From Giving Myself a “Bye” Month

Just a week into April it became very clear that my social calendar was much fuller than anticipated – and much fuller than I am used to, as an introvert who’s become quite fond of staying home and not spending any money.

city sunset

I decided the first weekend, after the 30 Days of Biking Kickoff Ride, that I was still fully committed to Saying Yes to opportunities for connecting with people. This would mean allowing spending for things like a pizza meal out with my kiddo, one of his favorite visiting-home traditions, as well as giving myself some flexibility in food and drink spending during social outings.

I also picked up a lot of extra call shifts during April, including two full weekends, and although we take off-premise call and don’t always work overnight or during the weekends, there often is disruption to my normal evening routine and sleep schedule when I have a string of call days. This is precisely what happened, and I found myself catching the respiratory bug that’s been prevalent in this area (when I haven’t been ill in several years). On top of fighting illness, I ended up working a difficult overnight case the third week that threw my entire routine out the window for several days until I caught up on sleep.

A year ago, these variables would certainly have led to a month of abandoned financial goals and cash flying out of my pockets willy-nilly, beers flowing and pizzas consumed at a remarkable rate, take-out to make up for not sleeping and being ill, “treating” myself (which is never a treat!) here and there throughout the month to make up for the lack of preparedness.

 

In terms of my overall routines, it’s quite clear that I didn’t make time for writing here, which correlates to less “making time” for other previously-established habits such as tracking spending, prepping all my meals for the week, and rising early to savor a cup of coffee.

 

So how far off the rails did my finance train end up?

With one exception, I stayed within the amounts I’d loosely budgeted for the month, and these amounts were still lower than I was spending a year ago. I am no longer surprised how fast a $10 tab here and there throughout the week add up – and boy do they add up fast! – and I was able to keep track of the running total, instead of giving up and ignoring the numbers for a few weeks like I’ve done in the past.

My glaring incident of mindless spending occurred on Record Store Day. My son, his girlfriend and I joined our bike shop for a bicycle tour of different record stores around the cities. They all had events such as food trucks or live music, and for most of the day we spent nothing, having brought our own snacks and drinks. One record store, however, was my old stomping grounds and where I used to spend a very large chunk of monthly disposable funds. Without even thinking about it, I purchased two records! I had a vague sense of, “This event is so great for promoting small businesses,” and -poof- there went $40!

The big takeaway for me, however, isn’t that I spent a large amount (considering my previous six months) on something absolutely not needed, but that I was able to acknowledge that it happened and move right on. I didn’t experience the shock-and-guilt feelings that I would have a year ago, and experienced often for a few years before that.

 

I’m also very pleased that I’ve seemed to kick the “treat” mentality completely out of my life — there were almost NO emotions attached to my spending for the month! Reviewing my calendar and matching up the outflow is very interesting from a habit and data collection standpoint, but that’s it. I cannot remember a single time in my adult life where I’ve been able to look at spending without judging myself in some tiny way. This is huge!

Overall, the lessons I learned from a month of spending with abandonment are worth more to me and my understanding of my own journey than the dollar amount I could have saved. I feel I’m in a much healthier space because of it. I’m actually in a better position to move forward financially, because of the insights I discovered, but also socially and emotionally – I gained friendships and have made a couple of special connections with people that I would have avoided in the name of “Sticking to the Plan” prior to April. Taking chances is sometimes worth far more than the risk 🙂

plum in bloom!

 

And it’s finally Spring! I’m looking forward to fresh salads and a lot more time in the sunshine riding my bike and playing with my pup 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Things I’ve Learned From Giving Myself a “Bye” Month”

  1. It sounds like you had a great month! It’s so easy to swing too far in either the save-y or the spendy direction, and so hard to find balance. It seems like you really discovered a good balance this past month.

    Also you are so right about your attitude, and not the money spent, mattering more. Same as trying to eat better (which I’m doing lately, with limited success), when you have a slip-up, lots of guilt won’t help. Acknowledge it and move on. It’s funny how often diet advice and financial advice overlap!

    1. On the food note, I definitely discovered in April what happens when I eat pizza four meals in a row — it wasn’t pretty! Ha!

      I’m still a bit shocked that it feels like it was a great month, in spite of the cashflow. It’s all about continually making sure my spending fits my priorities.

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