I can’t believe we are already heading into March in just a few days. The reality behind our no spend year has finally set in and it’s been a lot harder than I imagined. Truth is, I didn’t know how I would be feeling getting into this or did I?? Ok, maybe I did a little? In my mind though, I honestly thought this would be a pretty easy year, I didn’t think it was going to be this hard. I was wrong. it’s hard.
Sure we have our rules and they seem pretty easy to follow?? WRONG!! I had no idea just how difficult this would be. The emotions! whoa. I really underestimated my own ability to take control of my emotions, and just how often my emotions played into a lot of our spending. Something as little as going out weekly for brunch with my girls has been incredibly hard to give up. I feel like I am letting them down, I feel like I am not there connecting, I feel like I am being ridiculous and should be doing life with them…BUT this was part of the journey I was secretly anticipating and if you read on you will understand why.
Oh, and I know some of you might be judging us and wondering to yourselves why I am on this path, to begin with? I am on this journey for a few reasons, I want to be more mindful of our spending, I want to be more appreciative and responsible with our money. I want to reach my mid-forties and hopefully be mortgage free. I want to always be able to travel at any time without feeling financially guilty or paying with credit. I want to learn to value where my money goes. I want to live a life that might seem simple but is so full of joy and happiness because of our experiences and not our things. I want to value every single thing own and new things I bring into my life.
So if you find this fascinating, read on and If you don’t you can always move on.
I didn’t realize how I often underestimated or underappreciated the value that some small things, certain people and moments bring to our lives. This made me sad, because moving forward, I really want to be thankful and more thoughtful of each situation and reflect on how it brings me happiness.
Ok, let’s back up here for a second to the start of February.
Let me tell you…there have been moments this month that have sucked! (This is me being honest) I never realized how often I had been pacifying myself, the kids, the hard moments and the busy moments with things, food, and small stuff. If the boys were tired, cranky and hungry I would grab takeout food on the go. If I was cold, bored and craving a coffee, I’d stop at Starbucks (did you know I have an increadibly amazing coffee machine at home, like literally, the best). After school surprise treats when the kids were bored or if they were whiny (yes, guilty). If I was having a difficult day at work or home, coffee at Starbucks. A bad day, I would buy myself flowers while getting groceries. Feeling unpretty, I would pick up a new lipstick or eye-liner or facial cream. Perusing the books at Indigo turned into, you got it! leaving with a Starbucks in hand and a new magazine.
I never was fully aware of my spending until it had been taken away. Never, NOT ONCE was I truly reflecting and appreciating these moments instead it almost felt deserving or felt good and satisfying to spend. I was doing the retail therapy thing my way and didn’t notice. That was the excuse to feeling better or fixing something quick. Eventually, all those unaware moments were being cued to happen out of habit. Something I am determined to change moving forward. Curious about habits, Read up on it, “The Power Of Habit” by Charles Duhigg, an eye-opener.
I knew we were sometimes overspending especially after breaking down the numbers for 2018. I knew I was sometimes still frivolous, even as a minimalist. My thing was that I just spent on smaller or more consumable products and I never realized how often that spending was actually tied to emotions, moments, feelings and…wait for it…LAZINESS!! GASP! Me, Lazy! NO WAY!
I am not here to share this with you because I am judging you. THIS IS ABOUT ME. I am here reflecting on my own journey these first couples of months trying to be honest with myself. I truly never thought I was lazy because I just made things work at the moment with money rather than actually doing the work on the front end. For example, buying my kids food rather than packing snacks to go. That crazy, almost $10,000 spent on take-out food and Eating out in 2018 is starting to make sense.
This past month I had to be smart, mindful and aware of every step I took. If we left the house with the boys, making sure I packed snacks and water bottles. If I was heading to work, making sure I packed a water bottle, lunch and a coffee (maybe two). If I was doing groceries with the kids, saying no, A LOT, and dealing with the frustrations that followed.
It sucked. It sucked saying no to my girlfriends and not meeting up with them for weekly brunch. It sucked not being able to just stop at A&W when my kids were screaming in the car after school when I had to run an errand and they were starving. In moments of weakness I struggled, and I even gave in, oh yes, I CHEATED! After weeks and weeks of missing out on the girl’s brunch dates, I surprised them and popped in. All I ordered was a coffee, black. They insisted on paying for it so that I wouldn’t be misleading my followers, but I WOULD, I would be, because I went…so I told the girls, NO and I chose to come forward here and not to be dishonest with my readers or more importantly, myself. I paid $3.68 for my coffee.
Slowly as the month of February progressed we became more savvy and aware and better at this. The boys stopped asking for stuff when we grocery shopped (MAJOR WIN!). They started to pack extra food in case they got hungry after school.
I started prepping and packing my lunch every night. My girlfriends decided to come over to my place to visit instead of going out for breakfast, one of my girlfriends even suggested brunch at her place next month. The thing I am realizing now is that it wasn’t the big things or big purchases that were going to be hard for me. Those things I can do without but rather it’s been the small, day to day, mindless spending that has been a huge challenge. Finding a new way to deal with the emotions has been a whole other part of this I didn’t expect.
Before we started, if we wanted something in the moment…we just did it, we got it. Which I know is part of living a happy life, don’t get me wrong, but was I really happy? or just pacifying emotions and taking things for granted?
What I am learning through this process is that we can eventually find balance once we live through this extreme and come out the other end. Once we get to the other side, we will hopefully learn to appreciate those brunch moments, the friends, the warm coffees, the special purchases, the dinners out. We will hopefully learn some great habits so that we aren’t being so careless about our purchases and spending.
I guess we can add a couple of new goals to our list? One is to learn how to respect and treasure moments and not take them for granted, like meeting up with friends and getting a $3 coffee. The second is to not pacify our emotions with stuff, find different strategies to cope with moments and to be smart and plan ahead.
Wrapping up the first couple of months have been interesting. It’s amazing how much we have already learned about ourselves.
Coming up next, end of this week, I will be posting our February spending numbers. In the meantime, comment below, if you are OR if you were to take on a no spend year, what do think would be the hardest part of the journey?
till the next post,