For the last several weeks I have been on an unexplained, unnecessary, full fledged spending binge. From lunches out to Zumba gear to nail products to a sewing machine (yes, a sewing machine. For my pioneer project. Which I probably should explain at some point), and all small things in between, I have purchased something probably every day. Fortunately, it is all out of my personal income, not our family's shared income, so I am not really screwing anyone except myself. But still, it's bad. And it needs to stop. And I have a plan.
My friend Steph (remember her? She had a great guest post last week) used a phrase earlier in the year that I quite enjoyed. She used “spending freeze” to describe her attempt to rein in her budget. I am going to steal that phrase for the next 6 weeks when I challenge myself to start paying attention to what goes out of my wallet.
So why a spending freeze?
Besides the simple fact that I am using up all of my discretionary income and it's making me nervous, I've realized that I simply just have too much stuff. There is no need to bring more crap into my house when what I have will make due. The only exception is clothes because I really do need a new bathing suit and some summer attire. And that's a need. Truly.
I am choosing to look at this as a “spending freeze” rather than a “no spend challenge” (full disclosure, I am a HUGE fan of no spend challenges; I find them to be very helpful) for a couple of reasons: one, it's much more positive. When something has a positive rather than punitive connotation, I am more apt to stick to it; two, it implies a more temporary situation, which also makes me more prone to sticking to a challenge; and three, I really just like the term.
So, a spending freezing we will go.
Are there rules?
Of course there are. No challenge is complete without rules. My life isn't complete without rules. Not too many, of course, but just enough to give me some structure and force me to get my nose out of a book. But that's neither here nor there. So we'll move on.
For this challenge, I am working with these parameters:
- Any preplanned expense does not count. Besides bills and other expenses of daily living, I have to pay for a Zumba master class ticket, an anniversary something for my husband (our 9 year wedding anniversary is next month), a pedicure (I swim now. No gross feet), and some fabric for a quilt for my daughter. I know these are coming up and I am ready for them.
- Shop with what I have. When I feel like buying a new purse or nail polish, I need to dig into what I already have at home and use that. Perhaps something that hasn't been used in a while. I know I have a ton of that stuff. It's like what I used to do with my daughter's toys–rotate them so when I brought out a toy she hadn't seen in awhile, it appeared new.
- Resist. And return things on time. Free crafting events, library books, Redbox movies rented with a coupon, and free family events do not remain free or inexpensive if I have fines or buy crap (oh, craft stores. Why are you so tempting with your 40% off sales and coupons?). These two are a huge leak in my budget and I really need to fix it.
- No Amazon. It is my weakness and I have to stay away. Not even to browse or make a wish list. The gift card is gone. Purchasing anything from that site is prohibited for the next 6 weeks.
To keep myself accountable, I'll post a weekly update on DMS's Facebook page and, if I don't, please feel free to bug me about it.
My goal for this is simply to regain self-control with money and shopping. I have become too careless and for a person who advocates being careful with money, I feel like kind of a hypocrite. I don't like that. So I am going to fix it.
I know this isn't a unique or even remotely original idea. That's okay. Sometimes the most mundane, boring and overused ideas are that way for a reason.
Note: I tried a no spend challenge last May and even wrote a post about it. Not only did I monumentally fail at that challenge but after reading that post and comparing it to this one, I have realized that my financial habits definitely fall into cycles. There are certain parts of the year that it is much easier for me to manage my money than others. And I tend to overspend at the end of the winter/beginning of spring. I have some theories on why. Let me know if you'd like me to discuss.