April Savings!

May 17, 2011

Finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for (or, at least, the moment I’ve been waiting for): I spent significantly less in April 2011 than I did in April 2010. Twenty-two percent less. Hundreds of dollars less.

The numbers for last month surprised me because I felt like I spent a ton in April. I spent the first weekend of the month in New York City, where I ran a half marathon with my sister and her mother- and sister-in-law. After the race, I splurged on a massage at the hotel spa. When I returned home, I registered for another session of yoga. Then, mid-month, Channing and I took a trip to Kansas City for his birthday, and I paid for our hotel stay and a fabulous, fun, and expensive birthday dinner at The Majestic—plus beers and food at the Royals game and his birthday present: tickets to a couple shows at Wolf Trap this summer (Bela Fleck in July and Bruce Hornsby in August).

And yet, I saw a 31 percent drop in my “other” expenses compared with April 2010. My notes from last year show that I indulged my spring yen for shopping with a trip to the Reston Town Center. I also paid a large credit card bill, which included the steakhouse dinner I gave Channing for Valentine’s Day 2010 and a ridiculously pricey trip to DSW.

Oh, wait. I forgot about taxes. Last year I plopped the government’s bill on my low-interest-rate credit card. I am still paying that debt a little at a time. This year, I had the IRS withdraw the (slightly smaller) amount directly from my savings account—I didn’t even bother noting the transaction on my monthly ledger (which is for checking only). I’m leaning toward paying off the remainder of last year’s taxes from my ever-increasing savings too. Seems like a smart option.

One of the biggest benefits of the No Stuff Experiment is it’s made me think a little more about several aspects of life that I otherwise wouldn’t pay much mind. In the money department, I’ve started to pay attention to not just whether I have money to spend but also where that money is going. And not just where money is going but where it is going compared with last year. I’ve noticed that if I don’t drop a couple hundred dollars on clothes and accessories at the town center at the beginning of the month, I can pay for Channing’s birthday trip out of pocket, rather relying on my credit card. Keeping credit card expenses down helps me meet my monthly saving goals so I can make large federal tax payments without much worry. It also allows me to pay my car insurance bill in March (which made my April 2011 car expenses 62% less than they were in April 2010).

Just two weeks after “Why I Shop,” my hankering for a mall trip has passed, I don’t miss the new clothes and shoes I opted out of this year, and I’m decidedly more financially stable. Nothing wrong with that.

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One Response to “April Savings!”

  1. Sarah Says:

    Matt had a job interview in Lawrence, KS. We could have just as easily ended up near Kansas City.


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