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My budget is busted. For 3 months, my spending has been spilling into the following month. As a financial minimalist, I have the funds to pay it off and be done with it.
But I won’t.
My warped sense of personal finance pride won’t let me. Perhaps it’s because I’ve endured years of low wages where everything took longer to pay off or it’s how I pay tribute to long-term financial goals. Either way, this is month, I’m taking a break from spending.
For context, a no-spend spree includes necessities like groceries and gas. I’m avoiding frivolous spending, not breaking up with reality.
All other options have expired. This looks like avoiding stores where I could buy sports bras or hiking boots, try out a pie place, and refilling my Starbucks addiction. Instead, all items are canceled faster than the wedding season during high inflation.
It’s unfortunate because these items have been lingering on the wait list for a while. I’m channeling my 77-year-old bestie who claims low wages too but managed to save until she had cash at the ready. That’s how she’s taken more vacations than her sister who made more but spent more too.
For a brief time, all spending is going to halt until I can start a month with no liabilities.
This isn’t my first no-spend spree. I’ve been test driving sprees for years. Past budgets reflect cycles of higher and lower spending. Sometimes I splurge on stuff, sometimes I’m splurge on experiences.
The past few months it’s been a combination from a dinner train ride and big celebration dinner to frequent Costco trips for fitness pocketed pants. Once I realized Costco sells fitness pants with pockets (let be honest, it should be mandatory), it’s the dark, damp place my phone has been dreaming of.
After three months of a busted up budget, I’m ready to do better.
For this party of one, my biggest challenge is filling the void.
To avoid in-person temptation, which is much stronger than online temptation, I opt out. I don’t visit any stores outside of the grocery store to prevent any unwanted consumption.
For online temptation, I take a similar route and avoid digital stores. I spent scant time on social media which means there are less ads to incite any hidden desires.
It helps that this is my busy season too.
At work, it has been more chaotic than a parade of cats. I’ve been starting work at 6:30 or 7 and my days are a deluge of programs, fees, and miscellaneous ranger business. With 40 hours a week devoted to work, that’s 40 hours I’m kept away from my wallet and its wayward ways.
After long work days, dinner, dishes, and preparing for more work, have sucked up most of my evenings. The little time left before shower and bed, is spent reading which is how I unwind before going back for more.
Weekends are the weak point. There is much more available time that isn’t filled with exhaustion or work. To keep my no-spend spree strong, I fuse other tasks into my weekend.
A weekend sampler of no-spend activities:
- Yoga, running, or walking
- Reading, writing, or drawing
- Practicing new skills like the piano or learning the constellations
- Volunteering at the animal shelter
- Visiting friends
- Cleaning, decluttering
- Practicing my sleeping skills
- Calling friends, family, or customer service representatives to get off mailing lists
As a lifelong member of the adulting club, there is plenty to do that doesn’t involve spending. The trick is to balance productive and unproductive and ride the wave of accomplishment that feels a lot like fulfillment.
As you gain control of your surroundings and realize that you can get along fine with less, you gain confidence and curiosity about what you could accomplish if only you’d stop thinking about what you want to buy.Maximum Gratitude, Minimal Stuff
I was talking to my 77-year-old bestie and she said, with her car and house paid off. Living is pretty cheap.
It was something I’d given much thought to. My life is filled riddled with bills from a mortgage and utilities to frivolities and festivities, that life seemed inherently expensive and has always been that way.
Like shadows the grow from a creepy lawn ornament, I’ve had to remind myself yet again, that best the moments in life aren’t expensive but expenseless.
I just need practice.