Half-way: 16 day #futuremoney experiment

If you haven’t read the original post, you’ll want to read 16-day personal finances experiment. This plan has worked so well that I’ve decided it deserves a #futuremoney hashtag. The main principal is easy to remember:

Do not spend future money.

The Results So Far

I’m on day 9 of 16. In nine days, my view of money has radically changed but I’m not alone. As I’ve told my friends, they couldn’t wait for my experiment to end so they jumped in. Here are a few text messages I’ve received over the last nine days:

I know I’m only a few days in but I can’t believe how much it’s changed the way I’m viewing my money and my spending.

Trying to follow the daily future money, so far so good.

So, I didn’t spend one dime on a credit card last week.

It changed my mindset on day 1 and has continued to strengthen my resolve ever since.

You should create an app for it.

It’s hard to argue with results. For me, a number of unexpected expenses have come up but each time I was prepared. It’s all because of this experiment! I already believe this is going to be my way of life going forward. I can’t see a reason why I’d want to spend future money. There are things I could not afford on my own such as a home or a car.

What’s missing in a budget plan?

I’ve had a budget for over fourteen years. After many conversations, I’ve learned that many of my friends do not have a budget. Gasp! I think credit cards have made it easy to forget about budgeting. If you couldn’t use your credit card, you’d be making a budget, I promise. 8 out of 10 Americans live paycheck to paycheck. We simply wouldn’t be able to make it through a couple of months without a plan. I was lucky enough that I was taught this early on. Credit cards are just a way to spend future money while others collect interest on your lack of self-control.

Self-control, a word that inspires guilt. It tells you that you’re not enough and you’re somehow weak. But what if that simply isn’t true? What if you just need a system to help you? A frame of mind that makes you frugal even though in your heart, like me, you love spending money. It’s time to push the guilt aside and move on to financial freedom.

But tell me, what good is a budget you can’t follow? There are amazing apps out there to help you make a budget, You Need a Budget comes to mind. I’ve got bad news though, these apps won’t make you follow a budget. They’ll simply tell you what you should be doing and how you’re not doing it. It’s not their fault though. I think I’ve identified the missing link. We need two things:

  1. A plan, a budget. There are so many good resources for doing this. I’ll recommend two: You Need a Budget and Dave Ramsey.
  2. A system for following the plan. This where you’ll find little to no help. People will tell you use the envelope system. I’ve tried it. It sucks. This is where #futuremoney saves the day.

I have a “debit cash account” at my bank. Each day I transfer a Daily Allowance to my cash account and check my balance. I live off that amount everyday. I get paid everyday. I try to beat my Daily Allowance everyday. I live in the present. What are my needs? I’ve become resourceful. How can I make it without spending? The beauty is that I only ever use present available money. I never spend future money.

What’s not spent each day stays in my cash account for the next day. I’ve managed to build up a buffer. This makes the day-to-day expenses easier. I need gas? No sweat. I need food for today? I’ve got the present money ready to go.

The Struggle is Real

I’m not going to lie, this is hard, real hard. Here’s another text:

The struggle is real though. It’s not easy, but I believe in the results.

Yeah, it’s a struggle. On average, I’m able to carry over about $5 a day. That’s not a lot of money. It takes time to build a buffer. It’s going to feel amazing though when I have $1,000 sitting in my cash account just waiting for me to do whatever the hell I want with it. That’s financial freedom!

Each day I find myself saying no to all kinds of ways to spend money. I’m working too hard to blow my cash buffer in a day. In truth, I could blow it with no real consequences but f-that. I’m playing the game and winning.

I can’t do the expensive date night dinner. I can’t buy those cables for my computer on Amazon. I don’t buy a week’s worth of groceries at once. I’m eating one pot meals (which are delicious.) Besides, we all know how much food we throw away, I’m betting about half of it. I don’t completely fill up my tank. I haven’t gone out to eat once. The only thing I’ve purchased was light bulbs for my bedroom. I’ve walked to the grocery store to buy one item!

It’s all governed by how much is in my cash account. Sure, I have money in my other account but that’s future money. If I want to use future money, I have to let time pass, save it, so that it becomes present money.

The Benefits Are More Real(ist?)

It’s important to note that while I’m struggling with the day-to-day, my budget plan is in full force. I’m putting money into my savings, paying down debt, and building buffers in my other accounts. It’s working holistically. Just this morning I pledged to donate money to my children’s school for a fund raiser they are doing. I have zero guilt and 100% confidence in my ability to donate without any worries that I cannot afford it.

I was able to plan out my finances for the remainder of the year. Check this coolness out: Christmas, covered. West Coast trip, covered. Paying down debt, covered. Savings, covered. Buffers in all my accounts, covered. My entire financial situation is changing drastically. It’s crazy.

I’m turning into Benjamin Franklin! I myself rehearsing the phrases, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” and “Waste not, want not.” While a penny isn’t important to me, a single dollar has become important. I’ve never felt this way before, what in the hell is happening to me?

Okay, I’m off to the grocery store to buy sliced ham for my breakfast omelet. And yes, that’s all I’ll be buying!

Part time mad computer scientist, full time lover of the extraordinary.

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