Mindfully Spent is about managing finances, time, and more in pursuit of meaning. It chronicles my journey to use money and moments for things I truly love.

Save money. Pay off debt. Simplify. Do the unimaginable big things that you want with your life. Look back on your dollars and days and find they were Mindfully Spent.

Week 2 Wins: How I found $701 in savings in just one pay period!

Week 2 Wins: How I found $701 in savings in just one pay period!

Once I enacted my new rules for spending, there were immediate results. Before, it felt like I'd been trying to control my money by repeatedly telling the unruly, undisciplined, money-spending toddler inside me, "No!" And since when do toddlers mind? Now, each dollar saved felt like a show of support for the deepest and most meaningful parts of myself and for my future. I did not anticipate how much I could save in those first two weeks, nor did I know how those results would motivate me to keep spending in a more intentional and mindful way.

I had decided to give up meals out, fast food, coffee drinks, paid parking near my work, and most other non-essential expenses. I didn’t do a perfect job. I had some obligated plans that I decided to keep (some of those would even spill into weeks three and four), and some of my habits didn’t change overnight. I still spent about $8 on coffees and $23 on parking even while I was making drastic improvements in those first couple weeks.  (Parking would remain a challenge for some time.) But perfect or not, I made some substantial changes.

As promised, I also began the process of combing through existing bills to see what could be reduced or eliminated.  Overall, I hit a surprisingly epic level of savings that motivated me to tackle the next pay period:

I achieved $701.17 in savings/debt-reduction in the first two weeks!

Here’s how I did it:

  • Saved $100 by reducing unnecessary expenses!
    Whoop whoop! I was thrifty and much more conscientious of my purchases. Quitting coffee drinks was surprisingly easier than I’d thought once I had a good reason. We paid this extra $100 toward our credit card balance and it Felt. So. Good. When I hit send on that extra payment, my megawatt grin could have lit the Carlsbad Caverns. All of ‘em. I felt ready to take on the next pay period with gusto!
  • Returned recently purchased items – $92.90 recovered.
    If you’re going to look your spending habits in the eye, you don’t have to solely turn your gaze toward the future. I sent some brand new shoes packing back to ModCloth and turned over some unworn clothing items that still had tags on them back to the Nordstrom Rack. The money went straight back to our credit card. You know what? It felt even better than the original shopping trip.
  • Negotiated $20/month off my internet service for one year – $240 saved.
    …and you better believe that I’ll be calling back next year to renegotiate my rate again! We don’t have cable or a phone land line; otherwise, I totally would have tried negotiating those costs down as well.
  • Stopped renting my internet modem – $160 saved.
    This slick move reduced our bill by $10/month. I did have to buy a new modem, so that limited the first year savings to $40, but we will save $120 in year two. We’re not high-tech/gaming folks that need blazing speed, so we’re hoping we’ll get some savings beyond year two as well.
  • Used my accumulated credit card points to pay down debt – $30.27 repaid.
    In the past if I had points accumulated on my credit card, they would be the perfect justification to zip over to Amazon (the accounts are all too conveniently linked) and pick up something for the household.  While they might have been somewhat useful or nice things, that money was better spent paying off debt.
  • Opting out of bottled water at the Office – $78 saved
    As previously mentioned, I was part of an office group that voluntarily shared the costs of a break room water cooler. By using the good ol' fashioned sink, I eliminated about $6.50 in monthly expenses, or $78 in the first year 

All in all, I had reduced our credit card debt by an extra $223.17 in just two weeks (in addition to our usual monthly payment) and set us up for $478 in future savings (gotta admit, I just got my first lower internet bill, and it was an awfully fine sight).

Some attempts at saving didn’t pan out. For example, I had hoped for a big reduction in our car insurance rate. We hadn’t shopped around for quite some time, and we are pretty safe drivers. However, it turned out that we already had the cheapest car insurance rate that a reputable company could provide. That was not bad news, but it didn’t exactly fuel my fire to spend wisely like my big savings wins.  

While $701 in savings was more than I possibly imagined I would find, the biggest win was this: In two weeks, I went from being ashamed and anxious about my spending to a feeling a great sense of pride. Another unexpected benefit: My husband and I were having the most intimate and revealing (yes, money is just that sexy) conversations ever about how we wanted our finances to look. This was true even though we'd previously created household budgets and navigated the emotionally-charged expense of our wedding together.

The Pay Periods to Come.
The challenges of daily spending and changing habits continue. I’m also continuing to try and knock down the price of those monthly bills. In future weeks, I’ll talk about the-loans-that-shall-not-be-named …(stage whisper) student loans. And I hope that I’ll be able to share some good news about lowering our credit interest rate and maybe even the mountain of paperwork that is home loan refinancing. But for now, we're going to celebrate what we've already won. 

Your Turn.
Maybe you have also had some recent accomplishments in how you spend your dollars and days? If so, I invite you to celebrate the occasion with this. And then, share your wins with us! We’d love to cheer you on!


The geography of mindful thought.

The geography of mindful thought.

The Plan that ended my excessive spending.

The Plan that ended my excessive spending.