Living With Less - A 30 Day Spending Fast
My relationship with saving is comparable to my relationship with working out; while I know it's good for me, I've often found myself choosing instant gratification over long-term success. There's just so much stuff to spend your money on these days. I constantly tell myself that I'll budget better, but first I must buy all the ethical clothing that saves the planet, honours the workers and makes me look like the bad-ass feminist mom that I am while I sit in my house that smells like a peppermint rainforest thanks to the essential oils I'm diffusing that CLEAN THE FREAKING AIR I BREATHE. I'll save after that. Or wait, I need to go line up this weekend to get a $5 doughnut because not only are they local, they also happen to have the cutest branding and if you're going to eat a doughnut, you might as well eat THE BEST doughnuts, right? On the way home I might visit one of the local markets and purchase fancy food items or one of the other hundreds of unbelievably cool shit you can buy at local markets these days (hello concrete art objects, so hot right now). After that, that's when I'll save.
Like most adults my age, we can't quite remember anyone really teaching us about money. Money was this thing you had, or you didn't. It was there, or it was gone with the wind. I spent most of my 20's living pay check to pay check. I had no significant bills and no discernible reason to save. I viewed saving for retirement and owning homes and emergency funds as something you just accumulated once you figured everything else out. I waited a long time to figure things out, but now, at age 33 with two kids and a husband, I still don't have things figured out.
I have, however, realized that this whole 'saving' business is a real thing that most smart, adult-y adults do. I want to be smart. I want to be an adult. Mainly, I want to bike around Italy when I'm 55 with a pile of baguettes and wine and spoil my grandchildren and travel with my best girlfriends once a year to beautiful islands and talk and laugh with our wrinkly old toes in the sand.
So, here enters January 2018 - the Month of Less. I decided to commit to 30 days of no spending, I needed to do a hard reset on my purchasing habits. I'm not what I would call a "shopper" - I don't go to the mall aimlessly and look around for stuff. I do however, justify lots of purchases because the product is healthy or a good deal or local or just tastes so damn good.
The perimeters of my challenge are tight; absolutely no spending on anything that isn't currently in our budget. No coffees out, no take-out foods, no books, no clothing, no essential oils, NOTHING.
I began to notice habits and thought patterns within myself that I'm learning from:
I want to shop when I'm bored, even if it's just a soup from a cafeteria.
Marketing emails from companies with 'deals' and 'sales' flooded my inbox every morning and I found it too hard to ignore them without feeling like I was missing out, so I unsubscribed to most and put the rest in Unroll.Me
I have a really hard time ignoring sales from places that I regularly shop, even if I don't need it. (I have a 50% off coupon to one item at Saje for the month of January and it's burning a hole in my wallet. The fact that I haven't succumbed to this temptation yet makes me feel like I'm freaking Jesus. But I'm not - I need to give this one away before it gets the best of me. Come to my house and pry it away from my sweaty, shaking fingers please.)
I'm beginning to appreciate the feeling that comes with saying "No. I don't need it. I am whole. I am grateful for everything I have."
This might be one of the best challenges I've ever done. I'm full of self-reflection, I feel inspired and motivated to fill up my time and energy with habits and activities that have nothing to do with consumption. I'll follow up at the end of the month and let you know how I did!