April came and went and boy, do I have some mixed emotions on my No Spend Challenge.
To start, I’d like to report that I’ve magically managed, for the first time in ohhhh, let’s say about 14 years, go a whole month while only spending money on my pre-determined grocery budget. Even as a backpacking student meandering with near-empty pockets through other continents, I managed to find a way to break away and go buy a trinket, a shawl, some memento – maybe more for the need to buy something than for the actual souvenir (as a sidenote, isn’t that awful? I couldn’t break away from shopping even as a broke backpacking 23 year old…these rivers run deep).
Normally, I would be thrilled to report this. I managed to accomplish something that I truly, in my heart, wasn’t certain I could do because of the innumerable failed attempts. But no… I’ve had some unexpected bad luck some darken my doorstep that’s robbed me of the joy I was hoping to have over this big accomplishment.
To preface this, I’d like to note I am not the most patient person. When I embark on something challenging, I like to see results right away – even if it’s just a sliver and the real rewards come later – to keep me going. I’ve always been more about the final destination and less about savouring the process. Yes, wiser people than I wax poetic about how this is the absolute opposite way that I should view challenges and projects if I’m going to enjoy life, but I’m not rushing to change my ways; my focus on the end result allows me to bear many journeys that normally would be found unpleasant and even undo-able by many. My why (the end result) allows me to bear many a painful how (the journey). This being said, I
want need indicators that I’m going to actually reach my desired outcome if I’m going to embark on an unpleasant or uncomfortable journey.
What I’m trying to say is, No Spend April would’ve been just peachy if I felt like I made a dent in my debt, but that wasn’t the case because I got slapped with a big ol’ tax bill out of left field. To add insult to injury, I was convinced I was getting back over $1000 in a tax refund. This year was no different than others: the “standard of living” raise was under 1% (pathetic, I know), I put in the maximum contribution to my work-sponsored registered plans, and even had education credits as I’m always working on a new accredited financial designation. I was dead-set that I would get over a grand back. I even budgeted in that extra $1000 in my debt snowball calculations, for goodness sake. So needless to say, I felt plowed by a truck three ways to Sunday when I got a bill for over $600 from the CRA.
In short, work didn’t take enough taxes from me (could’ve fooled me – last I checked, about 40% of my paycheque goes to taxes…) and know I have a bill for $600 that I just paid immediately to get rid of and not accrue any interest.
So No Spend April? I am not better off by a single dollar more than my usual debt payments would’ve brought me to.
As a teeny, tiny rant that I tried so hard not to express but can’t help, yes, I know the bright side is that I’m not in even more debt after a big unexpected bill. Yes, I’m proud I achieved this. However I really, really wanted to see some tangible progress after a month of utter and complete “NO” to everything I desired. All of April I denied all desires, stayed home with my leftovers and home-brew and I just wanted to see a little movement forward, ya know??
So maybe I need to try this again. May is full of some extra expenses, but perhaps there will be a No Spend June…. to be determined. In the meantime, I totally own that today, on this first day of May, I have walked over to Starbucks, put down $2.00 for a brewed coffee, and am sipping it now with absolutely no guilt. After 30 days of NO, I feel like I need just a little coffee to nurse my wounds with.