I’ll admit that I haven’t blogged about my no spend month to a point that is highly suspicious.  I had intended to do weekly updates.  I somehow expected that week one would be the honeymoon phase and by week two I would look like this.

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It didn’t happen.  So what did happen?  I think the truth of it is that I got rattled.  It sounds stupid when I say it out loud (thank goodness I’m just typing.)  I had my food lists and my menus.  I knew what perishables were OK to buy and I felt good.  I think I even adopted a benign almost Jedi- like smile knowing I had no longer a mindless drone targeted by the consumer death star. Cue music.

It started with something small.  Josh and I decided to use a gift card to go to a movie.  It included snacks so we were good to go, at least until we got to the cashier. Eight dollars?  For what?  The movie was only being shown in 3D so it would be an upcharge.  I honestly felt ill.  If I’d been by myself I think I would have gone home.  This wasn’t the plan.  I thought I was in control. After that there were unexpected school fees, a minor repair and getting stuck somewhere for the day where I needed to buy food.  None of these should have been in surmountable but somehow it shook me.  I maintained staying away from most grocery shopping but the dark side offered cookies and I took them.

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It’s taken me a little while to figure out what happened but it is simple.  I have a tendancy to be all or nothing.  I will climb that mountain, achieve excellence in the field of excellence and have those thinner thighs in thirty days.  I grew up in a culture of leadership worship.  You needed to define what made you special. A lack of ambition was a vice.  It made sense. The generation before had had to work so hard to make it that we with our privileges should be world shakers.  I didn’t realize I’d brought so much of that into this.

It seems terribly dramatic for something as simple as a month of strict budgeting but it was more than that.   Once I put aside that this wasn’t a race to be won I took it for what it was.  It was to be a new habit, a new perspective on my relationship to money and food.  It was also a spotlight on my need to validate myself with measureable success. I had to accept that I will not be asked to lead the rebels to live outside of the Empire’s control.  What I will do is take my participant ribbon and give it some respect.  I managed for the most part to use what I had for meals, not go shopping for clothes, except that one bra after a wardrobe malfunction, and find a new source of income.  I wanted something big and finite.  A penny pinched lifestyle is not about an iron control but being able to flex with your situation.  It is also something beyond a quick fix.

So now I am midway through March.  I accept the challenge as a learning time with no pass or fail and I am good with that.  Anyone in the market for a slightly used droid?

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Comments on: "Confession: The No Spend Month Aftermath" (4)

  1. Wendy Janzen said:

    I had wondered how it had gone. I have read of others doing a no spend month, some had so many exceptions that I wondered what they had cut back on, or had done so much prepurchasing (bought a months worth of groceries, filled the vehicle’s gas tanks, bought gift cards, etc. the day before the no spend month started) that it seemed like they were just shifting their spending around a bit, but still spending the same amount they normally did. I prefer mindful spending instead of no spending, much more realistic.

    • I agree that mindful spending is the habit that is needed. For me I had to face what I already had and stop the spending cycle and use what I had. I came down to an indulgent life style that needed an attitude adjustment. I was chasing eating what I wanted rather than wanting what I already had. It was reactive rather than intentional. It really did save me about $300 so that was a win and I had to face my weaknesses. Argh.

  2. Thanks for your honesty! I love your writing, friend! 🙂
    You should not be too hard on yourself, because in so many ways, you did achieve what so many more of us can’t! I still struggle with my own money habits, so the thought of a no-spend month is too far out there for me to comprehend. And really, the things you had to spend money on were things that were unexpected and you couldn’t get past them. You didn’t get lazy and decide, ‘oh well, I’m just going to go buy lunch today!”, but instead had it thrust upon you, and that’s different. {hugs}
    I hope you decide to write more on your experiences with this. Wins and losses.

    • Thanks so much Lori-Ann. Your encouragement puts little wings on my fingers. Try finding dish gloves for that!
      Seriously though I think the only way to face life’s challenges is as a community. If we all share our struggles it gets normalized. We pool our suggestions and celebrates the deals and victories.
      Today I am living through loss. It is the second in three months. Yes the dishwasher called it quits right after the fridge. The washing machine only functions on the delicate cycle and we don’t mention the stove. Ever. Yup. It is never dull.
      thanks again, Deb

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