I’ve never been a budgeter. This might come as a surprise, given that I offer a free budget spreadsheet and I talk about the importance of tracking your money.
For years I’ve lived on frugal autopilot- I know my general expenses, I set ambitious savings goals and the rest is just noise.
Except that someone turned up the noise over the last few months! My control over my budget slipped and while there’s no crisis going on, it could easily snowball. And I’ve set some truly ambitious numbers this year; I’m trying to save 70% of my income. I’m being aggressive with my investing, and I’m saving for a home.
I also finished reading my friend Cait’s book last month, ‘The Year of Less.‘ Cait describes herself as a former binger turned mindful consumer. It’s a similar path to the one I’m walking; last year my eyes were really opened to the power of shopping ethically and local.
So it seemed like a good fit to do a shopping ban/spending freeze this February. As I grow my business and make bigger money choices, I want them to be in line with my personal beliefs. I want to live with purpose and make mindful spending choices.
Why I’m Doing A Spending Freeze
There’s no joy in mindless spending or consumption. There’s no anything in it. It’s easy to mentally check out in our world- more and more things are becoming automated so that we don’t think too critically about them. More and more things are becoming instantaneous, so that we never have to dlay gratification. It’s easier than ever to keep up with the Joneses in so many ways. We can wear the same t-shirt as Kanye, use the same face cream as Giselle.
And I’m no saint. I’m just as susceptible to the marketing messages out there telling me to spend, to consume, to constantly be striving. But you know what?
I don’t want to be mindless. I want to tune IN, not out. It’s important to me to spend my money at companies whose mission I support. I care about hitting my savings goals. Money has always been a source of stress for me; I want to continue to work towards changing that narrative, and saving is a good way to do it.
I’m interested in living a life of purpose and one where I’m in control. I’m not interested in sitting in the passenger seat on the ride of my life.
Doing a month long shopping ban forces me to ask before each purchase ‘Is this a need? Why am I buying this?’ It forces me to look at WHAT I’m buying as well as WHY I’m buying it. Money is kind of what I’m about. I want to use it like a tool, and I want to use it in a way that makes me feel good. I don’t like looking at my credit card bill and asking ‘where did I even spend that money?’
The Rules Of My Spending Freeze
I’m going pretty basic on this one. The rules are simple: no spending beyond my budgeted necessities this month. My list of necessities is as follows:
-Internet + Phone
-Business expenses (email, hosting, etc)
It’s a pretty short list for a couple reasons. I pay my car insurance every six months, I don’t have any pets, and I don’t own property. My finances are supremely simple, which is a nice perk for this challenge.
Some expenses from last month I’m looking to eliminate:
All meals out
Business expenses (journals, non-essential services)
Financial Resets Are A Good Thing
Spending freeze’s are a great way to refocus your spending habits. They help you define needs vs wants, and they can highlight where your money is going. I also think it’s important to challenge ourselves every so often. Shaking your routine up and attempting new challenges can show you what you’re capable of. It’s a chance to tap into your strength and abilities and blow past your former heights.
Thus far I’m doing well on my spending freeze. I didn’t use my car for the first three days of the month, getting around exclusively by bike. I turned down an invite to dinner out, and made veggie chili at home with friends for the SuperBowl.
I’m not turning into a hermit. I’m refocusing on spending my money with purpose. It feels good and each day that I succeed motivates me to keep going the next day. Stay tuned to see how the entire month goes.