Spending releases endorphins. Whether you realize it or not, you may be dependent on frivolous spending to give you pleasure in life. Some of you are keenly aware that you are using spending to tickle your brain but you refuse to break up with one of the few things that bring you joy.
I get it! It’s been a hard couple years.
But do you know what feels better than spending money? And even better than any temporary fix?
The long-term gratification of having money for your needs AND wants coupled with less stress because you have money when a necessary expense comes up.
I know! I know! We’re all used to millionaires talking down to us telling us to stop being poor. that’s not what I’m doing at all.
You see, I *had* a job that paid well and I quit. Not because I’m independently wealthy. On the contrary; when I quit my job I had no savings. We had medical bills and credit card debt we couldn’t pay. But because I value my mental and physical heath more than money, I quit anyway.
I resolved years ago that I’d rather have humble means and live on cash rather than work to support unnecessary spending.
People want to believe that anyone who lives differently than they do must have access to means that they don’t have. Sadly, few people are open to the idea that a simple paradigm shift can change everything for them. The common belief is that SURELY there is some insurmountable barrier that prevents one from doing things differently.
Unpopular reality- most people in the US have debt and bills they can’t pay whether they make $15,000 per year or $200,000 per year. There are many people who make millions per year and they spend millions more than they make every year. so seeing people with things; no matter how expensive the things are; is no reflection on their financial health. And the opposite is true. While no one can nor should be expected to live on $15,000, many of us can do better with our finances for our own well-being.
I won’t lie to you and tell you some inspirational story about how we paid our debt down and now have $300,000 in the bank. We didn’t and we don’t. I have some suggestions about how to start fresh with debt but that’s a very deep discussion.
What I can do in short posts like this is meet you on this side of our financial situation: I can share some tips and tools that will help you have some extra money even if you still have debt to contend with.
In February, we’re going to develop some new habits. We’re going to teach your brain to be excited about saving rather than being excited about spending.
Tell yourself, “Nothing sexier than saving.”
So, I have your attention. What do you have to do?
Well, first, we’re going to stop in the spending. We’re going to do a spending cleanse as it were. Let’s only spend on things we absolutely must.
With that in mind, the first step is coming to an agreement on what is a must-spend. But step zero is preparing yourself to only spend on things that you must spend on.
So let’s do step zero together now.
Since it’s cold outside and COVID is still rampant, one thing you don’t have to do is cancel outings. Amirite? (But if you are reading this at some future time when people are roaming about freely and they’re out making plans for music festivals, amusement parks, picnics, and vacations…know that if you still plan to do those things, you aren’t able to do a no spend month in whatever months those fall.)
Be prepared to not date, turn down invitations to go out to dinner, the movies, and rent scooters to ride through the city, too.
Instead of inviting people out, invite people in! Into the no spend challenge. Tell people you know that you care going a month without spending and they can support you by being your no spend buddy. Be each other’s accountability coaches. Start a group chat with everyone who agrees to do it with you.
Make a list of things to do instead of spending. That to do list could include free recreational choices (if you go skating at a free rink but you have to rent skates, that isn’t free). The list can also include chores that you have been neglecting. Last month I wrote about organizing your home. If you’re bored, what a better time to do those things you’ve been avoiding. If you find that a large amount of your money goes to media (tv, movies, online magazines, etc) you will also want to use this prep time to seek out free media to replace that.
You can also check out my Pinterest. I have a board about free things to do. This board is not specific to your area but it may get you brainstorming about what you could do where you are.
Go grocery shopping. Get food to prepare all of your meals for at lest a week. I know this is more difficult for some people than for others so this is why I’m giving you a prep week. If your immediate response to being told you need to prepare your meals is to say this is impossible, this may not be for you. I say “may not” because it’s normal to have trouble adapting new ideas. If you say you can’t do this but you can rethink it and you circle back and want to give it a try, I’ll welcome you back!
I won’t sugarcoat things. No spend takes discipline. It’s not a classist, or ableist, or any other “ist.” It’s harder for some than others but life is harder for some than others. Not spending money is free. If you are on the fence, check back on February 1st and check out how must-spend categories are solidified.
And finally, make 2 lists; one of what *you think* is a need and one of what you think is a want.
We’ll meet back here at my blog on February the 1st to discuss the what are needs and what are wants.
If you missed the free no spend tracker for February, you can get it here.