Miser March ended up being a lot harder than I anticipated. In theory, sticking to the budget that I had set up for the month was perfectly reasonable; there was even a little money leftover each week for unnecessary expenses, win! What I didn’t (and couldn’t) account for though was unexpected expenses, and for whatever reason, March had a lot of them. I was reminded again how important it is to have money saved and felt thankful that I had been good about this when I was in a better financial situation. Anyways…
Even though I couldn’t be as stingy as I set out to be, I did manage to pick up some good money saving habits. I’m addicted to comparison shopping now and I finally jumped on the buying in bulk bandwagon. I make the extra effort to go to the cheapest gas station, I signed up for Keep the Change so I can at least put a little money away, and I really think twice before whipping out my credit card for an impulse purchase. I definitely slipped up a few times and some of the habits I tried to make quickly went out the window, but the month definitely made me more mindful of my spending and kicked me back into miser mode.
What I did determine though, is that even though saving money is great, paying for convenience is totally worth it sometimes. Holding down a squirming Fanne to clip her nails, haggling a price for car repairs at 5 different shops, and paying half the price to get my hair done at a beauty school are all things that I’m not really interested in doing. To me, it’s worth the money to save the stress when I can afford to do so.
I thought a lot about money and happiness too, especially after finishing up The Happiness Project, which I mentioned back in February. In her chapter about money, Gretchen wrote “If money is to enhance your happiness, it must be used to support aspects of life that themselves bring happiness to you”. Sure, money alone doesn’t buy happiness but it can definitely help to support it. Living miserly is great for saving money, but I can definitely say that I felt happier in months where money wasn’t constantly occupying my thoughts. Going out to dinner with friends, taking photography classes, and traveling might not be “necessary” expenses but they make me happy, so to me it’s totally worth the money.
So, as my dad would say, “Everything in moderation”. It’s good to know how to be thrifty, but it’s also important to not be too strict about it when you don’t have to be.