In 2019, and most years prior to that, I spent money on about 75% of days, albeit not much on most occasions. In 2020, to cut down on those small purchases, I committed to spending money on fewer days than I did not money, or spending money on less than 50% of days during the year. But then came this COVID-19 thing, a lockdown with it, some excellent self-control, and I was hitting early targets of spending money on just 10% of days at one point in the spring! With that incredible burst out of the gates, I tried to balance enjoyment of life while not spending, and ended up spending money on 18.4% of days. That’s doesn’t include rent and automatic bill deductions for convenience, but it’s only a technicality because I could have paid them any number of days where I spent money, ahead of time if need be, but just didn’t for the convenience of saving time.
Spending money on 18.4% of days is basically 2 days out of every 11 (18.2%), or alternating between spending once in every 5 days, then 6 days, if I were to evenly space it out. It was arguably my resolution with the most resounding success, and definitely my resolution with the most positive life impact. Aside from the money saved in 2020, to be discussed in a future resolution post, it will now be a general life habit as long as I am living solo. The question is, what is the level I can sustain this while still able to enjoy life? It’s not the money saved here that matters. It’s not nearly enough to sacrifice life enjoyment for that! It’s the self-discipline practice and the joy from having spent money wisely that is my joy. So how much can I do of that without sacrificing other life enjoyment throughout the year, is what I’m trying to determine.
Given I started off spending money on around 10% under extreme conditions of winter, then lockdown, for about half of 2020, and ended up at 18.4%, that would suggest my second half was spending money at around 30%. If you did the math, 2 days a week or 28.6% would make the math average be even closer (19.3%). The way things are, I am hoping 2021 will be more like the last half of 2020, with me not likely being called for immunization until mid-summer or early fall, meaning pre-pandemic “normal” won’t be here until 2022, with hopes there’s no lockdown in 2021 from Wave 2. So how nice is that, then, to be able to frame as a resolution to spend money on no more than 2X a week, on average, for the year? That means I don’t have to limit my spending to 2X every week, just average it. Of course, one vacation like with my family living far away, that I will be long overdue for, could break that by spending everyday for a few weeks or more, but we’ll see. I may exempt that if I’m just barely over in the end because it is different circumstance and I’m not going to cheap out my family for some stupid resolution!
So with all that in mind, this was what I filled out in my printable Resolutions Planner you can download to try to plan your resolutions, if you wanted!
What’s your resolution idea?
Spend money no more than on 2 days a week, on average, for the year (28.57% or less). This does not include auto payments on rent and bills for which I have no control for date, and could compensate for with a little inconvenience on what are standard payments I must make, anyway, rather than things I can opt out of doing.
Why & for whom are you doing this?
This one is strictly for me for bragging rights to uphold my image of being fiscally disciplined without being cheap, to save money for super early retirement, and build a lifestyle on not much so that retirement can be happy as well! I’ll be intending to do more things people can benefit from in retirement, but that’s too far of a stretch to count here.
How will you know when you’ve succeeded?
If percentage of days when money was spent at end of year were 28.57% or less.
Why did you choose the target you chose?
It’s a nice round number when expressed as spending money on only two days a week, on average, and one which seems feasible while still allowing me a happy life from a roughly 6 month trial in the latter of half of 2020, which I expect to be a good representation for at least the first nine months of 2021. The rest is extra discipline challenge to uphold the target despite possibly being able to live with more freedom in late months of 2021.
What must you habituate to achieve success?
Nothing more than what I’ve been doing for the past six months. One grocery day a week and some planning to spend money otherwise then or on just one other day. Often, things I want I can wait a few days to buy, whether to batch on shopping trip, or order online.
How will you form the new habit needed?
None needed as I am already in the groove to do this.
What exemption from your habit will you allow?
If I go on vacation, because it’s hard not to spend money every day on vacation, even if only for some tipping at all inclusive resorts. I will take them out of, both, numerator and denominator, in my calculations (i.e. traveled 15 days out of 365, so don’t count those 15 days of spending, but tally for year is out of 350 days, not 365).
How will you track your progress?
My customizable daily tracker spreadsheet that I share online for people to use should they want to track some of their progress.
How will you be held accountable?
For every “day” I am over my Gold standard, I will do an extra full day’s worth of volunteering (7.5 hours) on top of things I normally volunteer for, with a cause I don’t like. For example, averaging spending money 2X per week would mean I can spend money on 104 days during the year (52 weeks x 2). So if I end up spending money on 114 days (a bit more than 31%), I will do 10 days of volunteering for said cause, or 75 hours’ equivalent. I won’t do the money donation penalty on this goal because I don’t believe in punishment that further degrades the effort put in, which is to save money here from spending less often, as much as frequency of spending can contribute towards totals. Besides, spending time to get to know a cause I don’t agree with, as much as I hate the thought of it, will probably reduce my dislike for them rather than increase my dislike for them. There’s just a price to pay for that, and one not likely worth the benefits as I might dislike them less, but I’m sure I’ll still be far from liking them!
What are your levels of success?
I will spend money (not counting auto payments and possibly vacation days), on no more than:
- Gold standard = 2 days a week, on average (28.57%);
- Silver standard = 2.5 days a week or 5 days every 2 weeks, on average (35.71%); and
- Bronze standard = 3 days a week on average (42.85%).
All of these will still be far better than my regular habits pre-2020 of spending money on about 75% of days or 3 days out of every 4!
Putting it all together (aka writing a clean, final copy)
I will spend money (not counting auto payments and possibly vacation days), on no more than 2 days a week (28.57%), on average, in 2021, with 2.5 days a week being the Silver standard (35.71%) and 3 days a week (42.85%) being the Bronze standard.
- I will do this mostly for me, saving money (this year’s share) for super early retirement, and bragging rights to uphold my image of being fiscally disciplined, without being cheap.
- I will accomplish this by continuing the lifestyle and spending patterns I developed in the latter half of 2020, with most of 2021 being expected to be similar for COVID lifestyle restrictions.
- I won’t need to habituate anything in continuing my current lifestyle and spending habits.
- I will track progress using my daily tracker.
- I will hold myself accountable by volunteering for an organization I don’t like, at the rate of a full day of 7.5 hours for every day I am over the limit of my Gold standard of spending on 104 days per year (2 days per week x 52 weeks).
- I may exempt vacation day spending because of the nature of vacations to have to spend everyday, or most days, just to be “classy” sometimes like tipping hotel staff. We’ll see where I am on my spending frequency because if I can include them and still meet my Gold standard, then why not for more bragging rights? 🙂