This Woman Saved $23,000 In One Year And Her Extreme Technique Might Work For You

01.13.17 1 month ago 13 Comments

Shutterstock

Here’s a confession: I often don’t check my bank account. Well, I make sure I have enough in it before I go out to dinner with friends, but the idea of opening up my banking app and looking at my actual purchases fills me with dread. It’s likely you’ve felt the same way. And it’s not that we don’t know we’re overspending (if we can afford it), it’s that we know that we spent too much money on will just make us anxious and depressed. And you know the only cure for that: A round of retail therapy. Maybe a copy of Suze Orman’s latest book, too, so you don’t feel like you’re actually spending as you drop 20 bucks on financial advice.

Don’t feel bad, though, no one is immune. Not even financial journalists like Michelle McGagh, who only recently realized she’d been spending far too much on things that were far too unimportant. And in an essay in The Telegraph, she broke down what happened when she decided to stop buying anything that wasn’t a necessity and started saving up to pay off her mortgage. (First, she just got rid of all her stuff, though.)

And just to make it more poignant, McGagh started her journey on Black Friday 2015, the day most noted for its “excellent” deals, packed malls, and some of the best fighting of the year.

From the essay:

First, I set myself rules: I’d pay my mortgage, utilities, life insurance, charity donations, and broadband and mobile phone bills (£1,896.76 a month). I would also buy basic toiletries (toothpaste, deodorant, soap and shampoo) and cleaning products (washing powder).

Plus I’d need to eat. But there was no budget for luxuries – that meant no cinema trips, no nights in the pub, no takeaways or restaurant meals, no new clothes, no holidays, no gym memberships, not even a KitKat or cheeky cheesecake from the supermarket. And certainly no flat whites from Pret.

McGagh also cut all transportation expenses, removing Uber and taxis from her allowed expenses and forcing herself to bicycle everywhere. Instead of buying drinks or clothes — she didn’t buy one item of clothing the entire year — she swam where it was free, enjoyed admission-free museums, and took advantage of free movie tickets when she could. Otherwise, she didn’t buy anything but groceries and other necessities. She went a year without one unnecessary transaction, forfeiting paid TV, ready-made gifts, or even apps.

Regardless of what the movies will tell you, the process was excruciating to begin with. McGagh writes that she felt like a killjoy and that the winter months especially, the ones that are perfect for going out with a few friends or enjoying a few cocktails around the fire were particularly painful. But then something changed. Instead of pining for her old life, McGagh began adjusting to the fact that she needed to change her mindset. Even if that meant she and her husband couldn’t take a fancy vacation or buy plane tickets:

My growing love of the outdoors led to my highest point of the year: a summer holiday with Frank. I wasn’t allowed to book a flight or a hotel so we strapped our tent and sleeping bags to our bikes, packed an enormous pasta salad, and cycled to the seaside.

We spent six days just riding around the Suffolk and Norfolk coast, wild camping on beaches and in secluded forests. We didn’t have access to a shower so we washed in the sea and when we ran out of pasta salad we bought cheap bread rolls from a supermarket to stay in budget.

We were constantly exhausted from hundreds of miles of cycling and by the time we returned home I had ridiculous tan lines from my cycling shorts, but it was one of my favourite holidays.

Unsurprisingly, McGagh says that the trip brought her and her husband closer together than ever before. And by the time her experiment had finished, she’s gained two things: a new perspective on life (she didn’t go into a wild spending frenzy!) and improved interpersonal relationships. She’d also gained $23,000, money she would have spent on fun, otherwise.

Of course, there are some criticisms here: First, not everyone can do what McGagh did. Being able to save that much money suggests a base amount of wealth that many aspire to rather than achieve. Second, the experiment was extreme. Not buying anything? Denying oneself the pleasure of even a movie to stave off the cold realization that we will all one day die and be forgotten? No, thank you! I’d rather see Sing again. Nothing like animated animals to make you feel good about life again!

But that doesn’t mean you can’d to some of what McGagh did. Why not open that bank statement this month, look through any unnecessary spending (I know! It hurts!) and vow to do better as of this moment. And if you mess up — you will — try again. If you can set a goal for yourself, like McGagh’s goal to pay off her mortgage, as opposed to just sticking it to capitalism (it don’t care!) you can make your cutbacks feel less painful.

Or at least don’t shop on Black Friday! You don’t need more stuff. We’ve got a guide to help you get started here!

(H/T: Cosmopolitan)

Around The Web

How Keeping Austin Weird Turned Into A Widespread Phenomenon

02.15.17 4 days ago 11 Comments

How Kevin Gates Went From Underground To Platinum In A Year And Changed The Game In The Process

02.02.17 2 weeks ago 6 Comments

Look For The Star: How Starter Jackets Became The Iconic Clothing Of The Early ’90s

01.31.17 3 weeks ago 9 Comments

‘Dream, Try, Do Good’: The Oral History Of ‘Boy Meets World’

01.31.17 3 weeks ago 6 Comments

How Frank Barsalona Created The Modern Rock Concert And Got Himself Into The Hall Of Fame

01.30.17 3 weeks ago

The Story Behind Gus Fring’s Stunningly Explosive Moment On ‘Breaking Bad’

and 01.30.17 3 weeks ago 5 Comments

How Toronto’s Boosie Fade Transformed From A Rap DJ Night Into A Digital Movement

01.12.17 1 month ago

Infiltrating The Bills Mafia To Find Out Why Fans Keep Supporting The NFL’s Most Hopeless Team

01.01.17 2 months ago 8 Comments

From Ray Charles To Jimi Hendrix: How Seattle Helped Create R&B And Rock And Roll

01.01.17 2 months ago 6 Comments

‘Stop Crying And Fight Your Father’: ‘Seinfeld’ Writers Tell How Festivus Came To Be

and 12.23.16 2 months ago 12 Comments

The Lasting Impact Of Adidas Tearaway Pants On Hip-Hop And A Hoops Generation

12.08.16 2 months ago 2 Comments

Understanding The History And The Motivations Behind The Standing Rock Protests

12.02.16 3 months ago 6 Comments

How Do We Combat The Intensifying War On Science?

and 11.30.16 3 months ago 30 Comments

Exploring The Intersection Of Hip-Hop And Social Justice

and 11.30.16 3 months ago

From Near ‘Simpsons’ Spinoff To A Check Against Hollywood Ridiculousness: Why ‘The Critic’ Still Matters

11.29.16 3 months ago 25 Comments

Willie Nelson’s Love Affair With Weed Made Him An Outlaw And A Country Music Revolutionary

11.22.16 3 months ago 2 Comments

How ‘Above The Rim’ Merged Streetball And Hip-Hop To Make A Cautionary Tale About Choices

and 11.18.16 3 months ago 6 Comments

The Story Of The Fugees’ Bitter Breakup And Unforgettable Legacy

11.10.16 3 months ago 13 Comments