What I learned from doing a cash-only month.
One of my 2019 resolutions is to save money and be more mindful of my money. So I decided to put myself on a card-tapping ban and do a cash-only month for February!
These days, we can so easily pop into a store, tap a card and leave within seconds and we lose that physical moment of handing over cash. We lose the moment of saying goodbye to our hard earned money.
I was hoping this cash-only month would help me truly recognise where and when I was spending my money.
So for me, the point of this month was to work on my money mindset and therefore, hopefully, save more money!
Before starting my cash-only month I made sure to set boundaries. I set these with my own habits in mind. For example, I allowed myself to use Uber ONLY if I needed to, because I know myself well, and I know I don't usually abuse this service anyway. However, I did not allow myself to use Deliveroo or Uber Eats (as this is dangerous territory for me!). I ended up only using Uber once when I was in Sydney, to take my mum and my sisters from the beach to the hotel. And I felt no guilt, because I was doing something good for my family.
For convenience, I left my auto payments the way they were. This included rent, phone & internet bills.
I decided to set myself a grocery budget for the month, which was shared with Alex. We took this money out a few days before February started, and popped it in an envelope to keep at home. We managed $300 in total for the month, which we were really proud of. (As Feb is a shorter month, we'll have to budget slightly more for other months). We meal planned at the beginning of the week, which stopped us from buying unnecessary things at the supermarket. (By meal planning I just mean deciding what we are going to have each night at the beginning of the week, writing a list for those meals and sticking to that list at the supermarket).
During the last week of the month we realised we were slightly short of money for our weekly shop, so we got creative and we meal planned using items that we already had in the freezer and the pantry. It was a great way of using up things that we already had and not going over our set budget.
During the month of February I was very aware of what I was spending. I think it came down to the fact that I could physically see & touch my money. I knew what I had in my wallet, I could see my money leaving my hands in the shops. I began to find ways of being more frugal. For example, instead of buying birthday cards (which can be stupidly expensive these days), I made my own! They ended up being way more thoughtful and special (...and made up for the fact that I didn't have a present!)
I found myself cash-less on many occasions. If I truly needed the item I wanted to buy, I would walk to the closest cash machine and take out the money. You may think, well thats silly and a waste of time, but the act of going to the cash machine and taking out my money made me more aware of the steps I was taking to access my money and spend it.
There were two occasions, when I was cashless, where I actually stopped and said 'wait, do I really need this item?' And turns out I didn't! So I didn't spend! If I had my card, I would never have thought that way.
Did I save money?
I highlighted in a recent instagram post, that my bills are equal to my earnings. Which makes it near impossible to put away money into savings. Previous months I've been getting into more debt, borrowing where I needed.
This month, being more frugal and concentrating on what I was spending, I can happily say that I managed to put away $50 and pay off $300 of debt. It doesn't seem like a lot, but those figures are better than going further into the red. Every little bit counts!
I definitely think i'll keep this up!
Want more money saving tips?
This year I'll be sharing my New Years Resolutions progress on my instagram stories. You can head over to my instagram story highlights to find more money saving tips!