I have recently started reading And Then We Saved, and the writer there (Anna) refers to my system as a "spending diet" rather than a budget. By Anna's criteria, the only part of my system that would count as "budgeting" is the amount of money I set aside for groceries/household expenditures, since that's a category where I actively limit myself to a predetermined amount each week.
Anna dislikes the word "budget," so she invented a neologism to describe her system. I, personally, have terrible associations with the concept of dieting. I would be happy to discuss nutritional goals, food preferences, portion size, or a billion other things about eating delicious healthy things, but I'd rather not hear about your diet. It would NEVER occur to me to use that term to REDUCE anxiety when talking about money.
Even though we use different terms, it was exciting to see someone talking about a system I use because usually, online discussions about saving money are not applicable to my actual lifestyle. I mean, the money I am advised to save is generally already money I do not spend. In a recent challenge on Get Rich Slowly*, for instance, the blogger Ellen Cannon makes the following suggestions:
- "Scale back on the cable services you currently buy:" BUT I don't have cable.
- Consider "carpooling:" BUT I don't own a car.
- "Bring your lunch to work every day:" BUT I do that already.
- "Make a hearty soup or stew and freeze it in portions:" BUT I do that already, too. This week it is white bean and chard stew with tomatoes and apple cider vinegar and believe me, it is delicious. I might make some crusty bread to go with it. But that's a digression.
To save money, I am also routinely advised to get rid of my landline (I don't have one), cancel magazine subscriptions (I have only one and it was a gift), buy meat in bulk when it's on sale and then freeze it (I'm a vegetarian), do things to the outside of my house to make it weatherproof (I live in a seventh floor apartment), and the list goes on.
One of the things that makes And Then We Saved particularly useful is that it is a technique rather than a list of specific expenditures. AND YET, if you have specific ways you've reduced your own spending, I would love to hear about those, too!
*I really like Get Rich Slowly and these are good suggestions. But not useful to me.