Thursday, January 19, 2023

A No-Spend Challenge



A few weeks ago, I listened to a TED podcast that posited that our spending habits can reveal things about us. They can tell others how we were raised, they can uncover uncomfortable truths about our inner-selves, or, at the very least, they can show the ups and downs of our lives.

The presenter of this particular TED Business episode, a woman I'll refer to as MA, was raised by parents who were always dressed to the nines. She picked up the habit. But then she read an article about how a year of no-shopping changed the article author's life. MA started thinking about her own shopping habits, specifically in regards to clothes, and how it affected her life.

After hemming and hawing, MA decided to take a one-year break from buying clothes. She says it was transformational. What she gained was money, of course, but also time and some clarity. She realized there were some emotional issues she'd been suppressing behind her shopping habit.

I couldn't really relate to the clothes shopping habit, but I am in favor of the no spending, so I dug up that article she mentioned. Here it is, if you'd like to read it as well.

Side note: My quest to reduce spending has more to do with looking ahead to retirement and trying to find extra dollars here and there to add to the investments portfolio than any need or desire to probe my psyche. :0) Although I'm open to discovering some insights along the way.

Anyway, the article struck a cord. It wasn't so much why the author decided to do it, but the rules she made for herself about what was okay to buy, what wasn't, and when she was allowed to buy even certain basics. (It was the lip balm part that really resonated.)

One rule was that she had to use up what she had before she could buy even everyday products. As an example, she'd bought and then quit using a bunch of different hair care, now, before she could buy new, she had to use up what she'd stockpiled. Makes sense if you're trying save money or reduce spending.

I took that sentiment to heart.

I have to say, however, there are very few areas where I operate that way. But there is one. I'll give you one guess...

If you said hot tea, you'd be correct.

As I mentioned in last Thursday's post, I'm a sucker for a certain Brand / Flavor. But I do occasionally drink other flavors. Of late I've been trying to alternate caffeinated with non-caffeinated, which means I've been drinking a lot more store brand herbal peppermint tea than usual. But then I ran out. Of course I put peppermint tea on the grocery list.

And then I looked in the cabinet where the tea lives.

And I had a lot of tea in there.

I decided to drink through all / most of the other flavors of herbal tea I've accumulated before I buy more peppermint.

Another vice I have is reading. I'm still a huge fan of fan fiction, but I'd gotten back into the commercially published book habit over the years.

I spent over $130 on books last year! That was a surprise to me, quite frankly. And that's $130 that I could have invested into my retirement. One of those books was how to do just that and was money well spent. We've started that plan--hence the need to evaluate my spending habits and squeeze every penny out of out budget for the future. A comfort and ease with less spending and less stuff will also benefit my future self. (Don't look now--that might have been an insight...)

Back to the books--

A lot of the books I bought I might have been able to get at the library. On the other hand, libraries don't tend to carry a lot of MM romance and at least a quarter of my purchases were books from two of my favorite authors. I'm going to have to figure out how to fund the purchase of any new titles they publish this year if they don't end up in libraries.

Oh, wait, I have an Amazon gift card!!

I did take the time to renew my library card and got my OverDrive/Libby accounts activated so that I can check out e-books from OverDrive. OverDrive, if you don't know is the online e-book library. But you have to have a library card with your local branch to utilize it. And then it will only allow you to check out e-materials that your library or library system has available.

I can also search Amazon's free book listings and utilize Prime Reading as well.

So I'm well on my way to potential savings, but now how do I calculate and save that money? I guess whenever I have the desire to make a purchase and opt not to, I transfer the funds into my savings account...? I'm not sure. I'll have to ponder a solution to that dilemma.

That leaves one last vice. And here's where maybe the psychology aspect comes into play.

I like "stuff." And these days, I'm very susceptible to impulse purchases on certain things. Maybe that comes from the fact that for many years, especially when the kids were younger, we just didn't have the money for much of anything extra. So now that money has been less tight, I've been less frugal/strict/careful.

I have a lot of stuff now. More stuff than I need and, honestly, I'd like to get rid of some of my stuff. And sometimes I do. But then I see other stuff that's really cute and the temptation gets the better of me.

But it's time to downsize, get back to the decluttering, and quit with the impulse buys. I'm doing better. I suppose some rules might also help me make better choices. Perhaps a target to keep my eye on might help as well.

 It looks as though I have some work to do in regards to this challenge.

Take care and have a good weekend.

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Here are a few of the articles I read regarding a no-spend challenge--what it is, why people did it, how thy did it...


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