But it sure helps. I haven’t necessarily struggled with money in my life, but I sure could have done a way better job. At this point, if I had wised up years ago, I could be in early retirement mode. For the past few years, me and my husband have slowly been embracing a new philosophy with money. Have you ever heard of Mr. Money Mustache? If you haven’t, I suggest you drop what you are doing, and check out his story.
He has been a huge inspiration to my household. Its not just about the money aspect, its a way of life. For the past 2 years, we have been slowly carving away at our spending. Its not till this year that I can safely say, we are finally starting to somewhat embrace the mustachian way.
Some would say its extreme, and I am not at MMM’s level just yet. But I can share my experiences, and continue to chronicle our journey. Just so future mustachians can know what to expect.
Step 1: Comb Through Your Bank Accounts for Low-Hanging Fruit.
This one kinda hurt when we did it, but it is completely necessary. I sat down through our checking account and credit cards, and found about 7-8 monthly recurring charges…for things we didn’t even use anymore.
$2.50 from Amazon apps on the kids’ Fire Tablet (which they haven’t used in a year). $25 from a resume builder website (which my husband used for one day). I would go on, but I don’t want you to think less of me.
Our first thought was self-pity…OK this was plain stupid. How could we have not noticed this before?!? We can blame the kids for always distracting us, and move on.
Some of the charges were real easy to cancel, and some took some investigative work. All in all, in about a day’s work we saved about $200-$250 in monthly bogus charges.
Step 2: Review a Snapshot of Your Past Year.
This took some effort, and there were a few points where I did have to walk away and come back to it. Full disclosure, we have never looked at our spending. Weeks have gone by since we would look at our accounts, other than to pay monthly bills.
But, I figured, if we were to try to embrace the mustachian-way, we most definitely had to know what our starting point was.
The biggest headache was compiling the data. Sure it was there, transaction after transaction. But how much of it was gas? How much was spent on food? Enter Mint.
I just put in in my banking information, and Mint did the rest. It took its best shot at sorting out transactions into the different categories. Because I wanted to see the whole year’s worth, I did still have to go in and fix a few categories, and it did take a few hours. But this could have easily been days without the software.
From there, I was able to easily make some quick calculations. For example, I can see what we spent in food for a year, and then see what that is on average per month. I could also see exactly what we did spend for a specific month, if I really wanted to.
This was horrifying, to say the least. And made one thing abundantly clear, we were spending WAY over our limits.
Step 3: Start Cutting Those Monthly Bills.
This takes some real resilience, which regrettably, we did not have at the time we started this project. Some bills were a no-brainer (I really don’t need a $45/month gym membership if I hardly ever go).
But others, were painful, and we decided to look at those later on. Do we really cancel our Disney World annual passes? I really did not want the kids to feel the weight of our financial woes (yes, these were things I was telling myself at the time). We all have certain things that make us think twice before removing it from our lives.
This step took about a month or two to cancel everything, and make sure no more recurring deductions were coming through in our bank account.
Step 4: Life Happens.
After all this, other things took over, and we put the financials aside for the rest of the year.
This was not so great, but at least we were starting to lean into the path that we wanted to take. We did save all those recurring charges from happening for the rest of the year. But there was SO much more work to do. It would weigh on us, month after month.
Then, 2018 came and we got back to work…