This post could also be called “how I failed during my first month of my spend free year, and what I’m going to do differently in the next 11 months.”
So, in December I announced I would immediately be starting a spend-free (or extremely low spend) year.
The very next day I bought a hat (to be fair it did support my favorite non-profit, Honey) but I still bought a hat.
Then, a few days later I ordered a sweatshirt from The Daily Tay to support her shop. Still, I was spending money ?
I said. Okay. Let’s figure this out. Something has to change because obviously just saying I’m going spend free isn’t exactly working. So here’s what I learned this past month.
What didn’t work
Trying to stop spending without replacing the habit with something else.
Getting a gift card for my birthday (which was great) but didn’t help my impulse purchases.
What did work
Using an urge jar (more on this in a minute)
Pausing before making a purchase. Asking myself why I wanted to buy it.
Having some fun money.
Knowing that I would be reporting back here on my blog!
How using an Urge Jar Helped the second half of my month
Right after I started my spend free year, my friend Brooklyn did a training all about using an Urge Jar to help change your habits.
Essentially, when you have an urge, and in my case that’s impulse spending, you sit with the feelings. You think about why you want to give in, how you would feel if you did or didn’t, and then, when you don’t buy the thing, you get to put a ball in your jar.
The act of putting the ball in the jar isn’t quite as thrilling as ordering a book or a cute hat. But it still gives my brain a reward and I’m able to move forward. My biggest thing with spending money is I think “oh I have to have that” and then I buy it right away.
starting to use the urge jar helped me realize that most of the time, the urges do pass. And if they don’t, I can save my fun money for that particular item.
Which leads me to what I’ll do differently in February.
Part of what Brooklyn does along with the urge jar is to make a plan (for her she did it daily because it was about eating) with exactly what she would eat throughout the day. I’m doing to do the same, but for the things that I will be purchasing throughout the month.
Anything not on this list won’t be purchased, unless it’s an actual emergency! And I’m sharing here so I can give a full report next month.
Groceries (budget of $100/week. We don’t usually spend that much, but I wanted to give some wiggle room
Insurance (car + health, about $350 total)
Phone bill (right around $100 I think (we pay off our phones with our monthly bill))
Blog expenses ($300, normally this isn’t as high, but I purchased some legal templates for my blog and I’m paying them off in 3 months, so there’s that expense + my website fees and my designer fee)
Subscriptions – Netflix, Hulu, Book of the Month, Libro.fm ($60)
The book for the Barnes & Noble book club (up to $25, if it happens to be more than that, I’ll get the audiobook on LIbro.fm) – After some encouragement from a friend, I decided to join the B&N book club so that I can read more books and meet more people in my area since I still don’t know many people and want friends!
Tithing (10% of any income)
Savings (5% of any income, until our debt is paid off)
Debt ($3000 towards our last credit card)
Von’s birthday ($50) – she doesn’t really need much, since Christmas was pretty big over here. We got her a coloring book, my parents got her a few books, and we’ll be going to a motorcycle expo to celebrate her birthday.
Date Night ($50)
Gas/Car expenses ($200 – this includes insurance)
That’s it! I mean, looking at that list it feels kind of big, but most of these are bills/things we need to pay for every month.
We don’t have a ton of things happening in February, mostly just our regular expenses + Von’s birthday. But I’m really going to stick to this plan in February. I feel more prepared, now that I have an actual plan instead of just saying “I’m going to be spend free”
I think I did need that first month though, to realize that each month will be different and that planning ahead will make a huge difference. We started this a few years ago, but then stopped when we moved to Colorado. But I know that it helps so much to see how we’re spending money.