I have a confession to make; I have terrible spending habits.
Not your typical $5 on froofy coffee, though that’s part of it. I can spend between $50 and $100 per day on things that, most of the time, I can’t even recall spending money on.
I believe that I would be what you call a textbook shopaholic. I don’t usually make it home with cute new boots or go on shopping sprees, so it’s harder to self diagnose. I justify all these little purchases throughout the day- $7.25 on coffee because I have to have the biggest size, blended, coconut milk, extra flavor, etc etc plus a $2 tip because I love that they have my uber-custom drink already done by the time I get to the window. I have food allergies, so I work myself up in my mind that eating at home is way too much work and going to the local, organic store for lunch is well worth the $12 for a salad, plus $3 for the accompanying kombucha because I would spend more than that on the ingredients to make the dish and I’d waste most of those items anyway.
I come up with all kinds of excuses and justifications in my head that I know in my heart are completely bogus. So why do I keep doing it? I tell myself that “tomorrow I’ll be better, stronger, or smarter.” Then tomorrow comes, and I have a brand new excuse.
So what is different about this challenge?
Well, the first difference is that I have a set start and end date, January 1-31. This is not an open-ended task that feels unachievable. I am subject to anxiety over tasks with no end in sight, leaving me to my detrimental self talk, and I end up quitting before I begin. This may sound familiar to most of you who struggle with diets as well. I hate dieting for this reason because I panic and tell myself that I’m damaging my body with restrictions or that I’ll only have this one little snack pack of m&ms to help me wean myself off and it won’t matter in the long run- then I use the same rationale in an hour, and an hour after that, and on and on.
Second, I am putting this goal on blast. I’m posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and here on Garbahj. Accountability to myself is obviously not enough, since I forgive my failings too easily. I don’t have the expectation that I will fail and be steered back on track by social media, and I don’t expect to try and hide things from social media in the fear that I might look weak or imperfect. My expectation is to take the challenge day by day, only “checking in” once a week to recap the struggles and triumphs. That way if I slip up, the immediate shame feelings can dissipate before I have to post about them, giving me time to reflect and regroup.
Finally, the most important difference about this challenge is that I am starting right now. Every day is a new opportunity to change your life for the better. This may sound cliche, and it should because it is said often for good reason. Wherever you are in life, it didn’t take a day to get there. Generally, major changes are made to long term bad habits, so it only makes sense that it will be a journey to get to the solution you dream of.
No-Spend January Challenge Rules:
- Do not restrict spending on bills, groceries, or gas. Necessity is not frivolous, even if you have recurring bills on a previously frivolous purchase. We are tackling the present and the future, so that you can fix any past mistakes later.
- Do continue your daily routines, especially putting yourself in positions to consciously say no to temptation. If it seems too hard at first, take it slow, but avoiding your normal trigger spots all together will not help you practice new habits.
- Do not beat yourself up if you slip. As I mentioned before, these habits took a long time to become a problem, so fixing them will be a journey. This is just the first step in your process. Allow yourself to make mistakes, but reflect on your mistakes to avoid them in the future.
- Do take 15 minutes per day, at the end of your day, to make a plan for tomorrow. 15 minutes doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but focusing on avoiding triggers and making a plan will get easier as the days go on. If your plan becomes repetitive, keep writing it down. Repetition is the best way to solidify the new habits. As they say, practice makes perfect!
My first day is just beginning as I post this. Join me on my journey, and gain a new strength with me as we start 2017. Let’s make this our best financial year ever!