budgeting for those who don't like to budget one bit (including yours truly)

Lately I feel like I've been consuming too much. Not food - other stuff. Consuming as in: too much spending, too much time online, too addicted to my phone, too many emails, too much Instagram, too much clothing in my closet...

As part of my New Year's resolution to simplify, I cleaned out my closet, reduced my scheduling and am unsubscribing from mass emails like it's my job. 

In addition, a huge, huge portion of simplifying is to reduce my spending. Which is maybe one of the least fun parts of being a grown up. Aside from paying for car insurance. Can we start a petition to just make it free, please?

Because almost everyone I know is trying to stick to a budget in 2014, I figured I'd share the steps I'm taking. And if you have any tips to share back, let me know! Always looking for ways to improve!

And so, budgeting for those who don't like to budget...

1. Assess the situation: I made a list of all of my expenses from December and put them into categories: necessary and unnecessary. Necessary things include groceries, rent, gas, car insurance, etc. Also, I put gifts as necessary because gift giving is my love language and love is non-negotiable. Things that aren't necessary? Dinners out, gifts for myself, manicures, etc. (Sidenote: You might have different non-negotiables. Some people refuse to negotiate on their nails. I get it.)

2. Set the ground rules: January is the month of intensity. So, if it's not necessary, I'm not doing it. Come February, I hope to be so motivated by how much I've saved that I keep going with this intensity.

My groundrules...

3. Eat at home: No dinners out, coffees out or lunches at work. Woof! I know - it's a doozy. But it pairs nicely with my reduced calendar scheduling. The only exception I am making is for one breakfast I already had scheduled months ago. I can save money but I can't be a flake. 

4. Don't pay to workout: There are so many ways to workout for free, including great blogs with tutorials, awesome online yoga, tons of places that offer your first class free and, of course, the world's biggest gym: outside. For this month, I am not buying a single class. Not even the Hotlanta Yoga deal that I rilllly want. 

5. Clean out your cabinets: Yep yep no grocery challenge is back! Obviously, since I am only eating food from home, I will go to the grocery. But first I have to eat what I have. Looking at you, frozen veggies.

6. Cut back on entertainment spending: Melissa and I are debating canceling out cable and sharing Internet with the other half of our duplex. I'm also not buying any books this month. If I really want a new read that I can't borrow, I'm going to the library or using LibriVox, which is free books on tape. I refuse, however, to cancel my Spotify. That is one of my non-negotiables (: 

7. Unsubscribe from daily deals: I know, I know. When yoga classes are $35 for 10, or better yet, free shipping at Madewell, it's hard to pass up. And I always like to say that I'm spending money to save money, because I'm buying things I'd want later, at a discounted rate. But that's delusional. I don't need the Madewell shirt now. Daily emails very rarely contain things you need.

8. Wait a month to buy anything big: I wanted a bike in August so badly. And you know what? I still wanted it in December. So when I found one on major discount (I ended up paying $120), I was so, so happy I'd waited. I almost spent $600 in August! Also, you know what I didn't really want? That Kindle that I bought on impulse. I never use it, dangit!

9. Leave your debit card at home: I learned this by accident. The other day I accidentally left my wallet at home. I went to run errands after work, then realized I didn't have my card. So what did I do? I didn't spend money, all day long! In case of emergency, you should have something (maybe $20 hidden, or something like that). But every now and then, leaving my card at home is a nice trick.

10. Drive less: Avoid getting in the car when you can. Walk more (see #4!) or bike (see #8!).

Remember, every little bit makes a difference. I'll let you know how it goes in February. Happy saving!