Yesterday, I posted a net worth update in which I lamented two straight months of weak results — largely at the hands of the whims of the stock market. In order to roar back in October and finally get rid of that last bit of negative net worth, I’d like to set a few personal finance goals all aimed at taking chance out of the equation.
Goal #1: Make big contributions to debt and retirement
To get back in control of where my net worth is headed, my goal is to out-muscle the market.
My goal this month is to send a cool $4,000 combined to debt and retirement — far more than I’ve been able to in recent months.
That might seem like too much, but the two tricks I’ve got up my sleeve are:
- The employer match for my 401(k) retirement savings account and my Health Savings Account and
- The money I’ll be able to save thanks to my second goal, which is…
Goal #2: It’s a no-spend month!
A no-spend month is exactly what it sounds like. My goal for October is to spend nothing.
Of course, I’ll still have to spend money on rent and utilities (to the relief of my roommates) and I’ll still have to get to and from work and conduct basic hygiene (to the relief of my coworkers) — not to mention eating and exercise. But in this month, I’m aiming to do each while spending on nothing that isn’t necessary. Explicitly, I’m aiming to do the following:
- Transport: Living in New York, It’s pretty easy to get by without spending money on transportation, but if I want to go somewhere other than what’s accessible by subway, I’ll have to plan ahead to walk or bike there. A good reminder too that in the case of hikes, sometimes getting there is half the fun.
- Hygiene: No buying new shampoo, soap, toothpaste or deodorant. Sure, I might run out of my main stash, but I’ve also managed to build up a sizeable stockpile of samples, hotel freebies — not to mention partially used amounts just hanging out in other places. What a great opportunity to work down that supply!
- Entertainment: I’ve got a stack of books I’ve been meaning to catch up on and New York offers no shortage of free entertainment if you’re willing to look for it
- Food: No, I’m not going to starve myself for a month, but eating out is a luxury I can definitely cut. I’ll focus my grocery shopping on fresh produce to pair with the cabinet full of canned and dry foods I have access to. Not only that, I’ll plan ahead so I don’t have to buy lunch while at work.
- Drink: Buying drinks at bars is an obvious target to cut out during a no-spend month, but I’m also guilty of spending too much at cafes and tea houses. I’ll also abstain from spending money at such places and instead, finish off what I have in my house and the more than adequate tea available at work.
In short, the lesson I’ll take away from this no-spend October isn’t that I’ll never spend money again — that’s obviously not sustainable. Rather, I hope it will be a good reminder that enjoying life and spending money are two totally separate things.
Goal #3: Get rid of stuff
Whereas we spend so much of our lives trying to acquire stuff, I think it’s fitting that the minimalism that comes with a no-spend month should also include getting rid of clutter. My third goal for this month is to get rid of 100 things, whether by giving away, selling, or otherwise removing from my apartment.
I’ll report back with the list as the month goes along.
And that’s that! What is everyone else looking to accomplish in October?