August, oh August. Frankly, you were rather crappy. And I responded to that crappiness by shopping and spending like someone who was in want of some serious distraction. I bought things. Many things. They are lovely and useful and most were secondhand and inexpensive and I can’t really say that I regret it all that much. But after all that I feel like I have a few pressing reasons to do a no spend month. Immediately.
First, I’ve done enough shopping in the last month to last me for a good long while. I’ve wiped almost everything off my “I want this, but I want it secondhand” shopping list. I have an abundance of clothes, books, kitchen stuff, craft supplies, and all manner of other things. I even have a large stockpile of food that could use some rotating through. There’s no need for me to go shopping. So I won’t.
Second, I’ve spent a good bit of money. I didn’t go into debt and barely put a dent into my savings, but I’d like to get back to my focus on living as frugally as possible. The more I can build up my savings, the better, and I’d like to make some financial changes around things like investing. Even $50 or $100 a month can make a big difference, and tightening the budget and getting away from shopping will help get me closer to my goals.
Third, I realise that a separation is one of those things categorized as a MAJOR LIFE EVENT, but I no matter how crazy things are I just don’t want to get into the habit of using shopping as a way to distract myself or self-soothe. I know full well that I was doing a lot of shopping in an attempt to care for myself and get out of the apartment, but there were times when my willingness – perhaps even need, in some of the darker moments – to get out and shop was a little scary. There are better ways. I want to figure out what they are again.
Conveniently, September is very nearly here and with the start of the month I’ll also be starting another month-long challenge. The rules are:
- Regular expenses like rent, utilities, insurance, and so on are all fine, although making efforts to minimize those expenses is cool
- No shopping for clothes, books, housewares, entertainment, tools, craft supplies, or any other wants
- Meeting needs – actual ones, not “but I reeeeaaaaly want it” ones – is also fine
- Shopping for food is okay, but make an effort to use up what’s on hand first, and don’t go overboard (I’d actually like to see how much I can do with pantry staples)
- Replacing any necessary used-up toiletries or health items is acceptable
- Anything desirable that doesn’t meet the parameters goes on a wish list, both to reduce the desire and also to track what’s tempting and why
- Any money spent in September must be matched by an equal savings account contribution (thereby doubling the apparent cost of everything)
These rules are pretty simple, but then, I’m seeing this as a pretty simple exercise. I’m going to buy the things that I need, but anything else is off the table right now. In all honestly, it’s a bit of a relief to have some constraint. In addition to my own feelings of deserving new things or trying to make myself feel better, I’ve been getting a lot of the encouragement from friends and family to make changes in ways that are often tied to new acquisitions. I know they care and want me to feel better, but it’s time to lay off the spending and get back to frugal living, and having a self-imposed challenge with some clear limitations should help quite a bit.