April Spending: A Month of Money and Magic

As noted in my previous post, I decided partway through April to loosen my frugality in favor of social interactions. For me this journey is not just about paying off all my debt, or achieving financial independence, or retiring (a tiny bit) early, although those are things I plan on doing. It’s about creating a joyful, more simple life for myself and those I love, and having the means and security to do so. The financial aspect, then, is about continually checking in with myself to ensure that my spending is in alignment with my priorities. And last month, in spite of spending a lot more cash than I’d originally planned, my choices served my current life goals perfectly.

I Said Yes to events that pushed me outside my comfort zone, and ended the month with a wonderful group of new friends, lots of time spent with my kiddo and his friends, and a whole lot of miles on my bicycle.

Here’s the breakdown:

 

 

I use YNAB for budgeting and tracking my spending. I average annual expenditures monthly, so occasional bills such as car insurance have money put aside all year. Thus, in months where I have smaller income I still have enough set aside to cover my expenses.

  • Fixed expenses: My electric bill has been on an averaged budget plan of $109. Turning the thermostat down (and not having a TV since it’s at college with the kiddo) has made enough of a difference that I have a large credit on my account. No bill this month! Cell phone bill was higher due to my son purchasing a new phone and therefore a new plan. City utilities have been a bit lower but will start climbing during watering-the-garden season. Internet went up $5 in March, but is still a steal for fiber optic service. In spite of my relaxed spending, I was still able to pay extra toward my debt.
  • Groceries $296: I was pleased this stayed under $300 since I wasn’t meal planning the last half of the month, and my son was home for two weeks total.
  • Pets $20: One bag of cat food.
  • Bikes $117: A rear rack and pannier bag for commuting – this was a purchase I’d been considering for quite some time, and I’ve ridden to work every non-call day since.
  • Gasoline $33!!: I only drove on call shifts – the bicycle miles paid off 🙂
  • My spending $107: Broke my zero streak. But I’m ok with that! I purchased a needed clothing item, had a coffee out just before a date (I took Saying Yes literally this month), and bought two records in a momentary lapse of attention. I detailed the latter in my previous post, but it turned out to be a great learning experience that I feel really good about. 
  • Family/Friend Fun $169: One dinner out with kiddo, a donation to World Bicycle Relief for 30 Days of Biking, five appetizers and/or drinks after group bicycle rides, and splitting the cost of two of a handful of awesomely frugal dates 🙂 Considering I used to spend this much monthly on brunch and cafeteria food, this number makes me happy. Especially when considering all the wonderful company!
  • Everything Else $41: $13 birthday gift and $28 at Home Depot for velcro ties and trash bags.
  • Kiddo $475: All his groceries, spending money, and school-related/transportation expenses. This month also included his new phone purchase as well as a case and screen protector.
tulips are blooming!

My gamble of letting things go for the month of April paid off in ways I never would have dreamed. I learned that I have a much healthier relationship with money than I did a year ago, and I’m in a great place emotionally to be able to recognize little missteps as just that and then move forward without hesitation. I ate terribly compared to my normal diet, I drank a lot more alcohol, my daily blood pressure monitoring surprisingly was normal, my enthusiasm for bicycles is at an all-time high, my sleep suffered and so did my health for a bit, and I’ve never felt such gratitude for being alive to experience these things. 

 

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