A Month of No Spending
This year we designated as the year of getting our finances in order through concepts of more frugal living. I spent all of November and December watching YouTube videos on frugal living, surfing blogs and reading anything I could find that sounded like something close to rational advice. On several videos a “Month of No Spending” was mentioned. This concept scared the living daylights out of me. I have spent the last 40+ being a materialistic shopaholic and old habits die hard. Every time I was stressed or unhappy I went shopping. I grew up in an environment where if things got ugly in life I got a toy or a food treat (weight is also an issue for me, but that is for another blog).
I mentioned the idea of a no spending month to my spouse even though it scared me. I explained that general concept was that by not spending for an entire month it would help us to realise how we spend money without actually thinking about what we are doing. As uncomfortable as this idea was for me we agreed that it might help us reign in our finances and that we should pick a month and try it. We settled upon February because it is the shortest month of the year, making trying this experiment a little less scary.
I never realised how much I was the cause of my continual state of excessive spending and being broke. We agreed that we would pay our monthly bills of course and purchase the things we budgeted for like gas and groceries. The caveat was that all other spending was off limits. This covered everything from scratch tickets/lottery tickets, impulsive splurges and anything that was not in the budget for the month.
Two days into the month, I drove my father to the corner store to check his lottery tickets. While we were there I picked up a couple scratch tickets like I have done countless times before just because I was there. I came home happily placed the tickets on the table. We both sat down, scratched our tickets and talked about what to fix for dinner. Later that night we realised that this was exactly the kind of mind less spending that has wreaked havoc on our budget, truly an “ah ha” moment for this new path we have embarked on. We are only about 5 days into February and I have realised that this experiment is going to be very hard, but then any time I have tried to change old habits it was almost overwhelming. I am now aware of how unconscious my spending habits have become and I am going to spend the rest of the month learning to think before I spend. I wonder how much I can improve my spending habits in the next 23 days. Then I will have to learn to maintain these new habits as a permanent fixture in my life. I will let you know how the remainder of the month goes.