Spending Is Fun But It's Not Always Smart
Recently I shared on my Insta stories that CJ and I are very close to closing on a lake property near our hometown. This is such an exciting time for us that never even crossed my mind as something we would ever do. I vividly remember sharing our first apartment together and splitting the $450 rent between us. The apartment was scorching in the summer and frigid in the winter. We could hear animals in the walls. There was a dead bat near the washing machine in the basement and I was definitely down there doing my laundry one day when some rather large creature scurried in the rafters above me. The building had its problems. But the apartment was big and it was inexpensive and it gave us an amazing start to our lives.
Somehow, we've managed to keep the happiness and excitement from our early days and carried it forward with us as our living situation has improved. (Unfortunately the super cheap rent hasn't followed us.) Understand, we've worked our asses off to get to this spot in our lives. But we are clear that we've also had a healthy dose of good fortune and privilege mixed in there too. So we don't take one second of this life of ours for granted. We've got it good.
Over the years, we've been diligent about paying our future selves and saving up for big expenses. For me, my savings need to come out of my account before I ever see it. I'm a spender. But if I never see it, then it doesn't exist. CJ, on the other hand, takes no pleasure in spending money on clothes or toys. He enjoys saving money. Always has. Between the two of us, we have a prudent amount of fun, which sounds absolutely awful! But it's been the perfect balance for us.
So while we've been smart about saving, we're about to take on an extra expense and we must be careful. I don't need to do the tally for anyone... we all know living life, especially with day care and activities mixed in, is like Olympic levels of financial gymnastics. This shift in focus with our savings is forcing me to reign in my extra curricular spending. Not just a little. Like... all the way. CJ looked at me one day and said, "No shopping." I said, "Okay." And he paused, then said, "YB. (that's my nickname) I mean it. Every single penny has to go to savings."
He called me by my name, so I knew it was serious.
Two months was the restriction he set and I agreed that was no problem. But then the emails and push notifications from my favorite shops started coming through. It's the turn of a season and I "NEED" clothes for summer. How am I supposed to get dressed every day if I don't get summer clothes?! I had to pick up essentials at Target, and you know the power of Target. Maybe just a $20 t-shirt?
How am I supposed to handle this?
I don't have the answers yet. This change just happened. But here's what I've started doing to trudge my way through this break.
- Delete promotional emails. Maybe even temporarily adjust your email preferences. Can this get any more obvious? Bottom line is I don't even look at the promotional emails that tell me I could get my summer essentials for mega discount right now. It's like putting a dozen donuts in front of someone trying to cut sugar. Just stay away.
- Flip the closet. Earth-shattering tips here, guys. But seriously. Purge everything you haven't worn in the last two years and then rearrange your closet and drawers to put different things together. I participated in a sidewalk sale recently and I unloaded so much from my closet. My things have room to breathe now and I can actually see them again. So I'm working on pairing pieces differently to give them a slightly new twist. This small change does just enough to sate my craving for new stuff.
- Save small. So I says to CJ, I says, "Maybe I could set aside $25 per paycheck so I could get a little something fun?" He laughed and said he thought that was a respectable amount to keep for myself. Going on a spending hiatus doesn't mean spending starvation. It just means being more thoughtful and careful about where your discretionary dollars are going. So I've started setting aside small amounts of fun money for a little treat in a few weeks.
- Start a countdown. When we were about 50 days away from heading to Mexico, I started a countdown on my whiteboard at work. Every day, I took enormous pleasure in changing the number. It kept my spirits up on the days when all I wanted to do was fly away forever. So, why not do the same thing for a shopping day? It can make the figurative target you're aiming for all the more tangible.
- Busy yourself. I. Love. Shopping. I know I'm not alone in this. The whole experience is like my favorite drug. But I've found if I'm occupied with a million other things, then I don't really have time to be tempted. Reenergize your workout routine. Pick up your book or magazine rather than window shop on your phone. Do the little tasks that always seem to take a back-burner (hello, putting away that laundry). What's that saying? Idle hands are the devil's playground. So, get un-idled.
- Borrow (and steal) from friends. Go "shopping" in your friends' closets! Maybe borrow a few pieces from a trusting friend. It's a great way to double both of your closets. Or host a swap party. It's easy to put together 5 or 6 participants. Everyone brings gently used items and you leave with a few new-to-you things. I haven't done this in AGES but I still have some amazing things I picked up from my last swap party. Not to mention, you get some QT with your pals, which seems harder and harder to nail down as time goes on.
Let's be clear, I cannot wait to get back to my regularly scheduled shopping program. But in the meantime, I'm finding this hiatus isn't as bad as I first thought. What about you? Have you ever given your pocketbook some time off? How did you handle it? I can definitely use all the tips I can get!
About this outfit... These photos are from way back when there was still snow on the ground. But I wore this exact combination, with my favorite Joie sandals swapped in for the boots, just last Saturday for a dinner out. This is so comfortable and NOT NEW! Woot! I felt very Damsel in Dior or Olsen Twinsie. Note to self - invest in many more slip dresses... after the hiatus!