Goal: Accomplished

Last week, I noticed that fast food appeared to be a spending problem for me. [Just typing that I started to have a Taco Bell craving. Argh!] I'm back to say that I didn't eat any fast food at all this week. Yay!

In fact, I cut my against ban spending to less than $25 this week.

  • 1/13 - Amazon - $11.09 - Angela Davis, Freedom Is a Constant Struggle
  • 1/15 - Michaels - $6.42 - some paper
  • 1/15 - Starbucks - $5.13 - chai and cake pops
I'm giving myself a pass on the book I purchased from Amazon. It's for a book club and I couldn't get it from the library in time. Also, it's going to help me learn more about smashing the white cis het patriarchy, which is definitely worth the money.

The paper at Michaels was a definite impulse buy that wouldn't have happened if I hadn't followed my habit of going there every week after getting done with my volunteer time at the animal shelter. I'll be avoiding that bullshit this week.

Starbucks was a mistake that resulted from not checking how much I had left on my gift card. I thought I had $5 or more left. Turns out I had $2 and some change. Oops. That won't happen again - I only go to Starbucks when I have a gift card. And now I have to admit that this counts as fast food. They have a drive-thru. It counts.

So, I lied, there was one fast food incident this week but I got my against-ban spending down to
$22.64, compared to last week's at more than $50.

I'm about to go on an 11-day "Christmas" vacation. Though I've allowed myself a fast-food-while-on-the-road exception, I'm going to get some snacks and try to make the 13-hour trip back to Northern NY with minimal fast food. I've also made plans for what I will be eating when I return from my trip and will prepare as much as I can ahead of time so as to avoid the trap of spending on fast food after being away. I guess we'll see how I do.

13 Days In

I'm not sure if I can even really say I'm on a shopping ban at this point. To wrap my head around it, I'm going to list the things I've purchased so far this year that I've (ostensibly) chosen not to buy.

  • 1/12 - Taco Bell - $6.42 - fast food
  • 1/10 - Jimmy John's - $12.00 - fast food
  • 1/08 - vending machine - $2.85 - trash food
  • 1/07 - Michaels - $3.20 - craft supplies
  • 1/04 - Taco Bell - $6.71 - fast food
  • 1/01 - Joann Fabrics - $5.34 - craft supplies
For a total of $36.52 that I hadn't planned to leave my wallet. This doesn't even take into account the random $15 I got from work that I didn't fold into my budget. I can hardly remember what I spent that on. So, if I'm totally honest, I spent $51.52 over the course of the past 12 days that I hadn't intended to.

This is not an exercise in self-flagellation; it's just something I'm going to do every week or two to keep myself accountable and to better understand where my temptations lie. Guilt over this is useless, so I'm going to acknowledge that this is where I am and commit to doing better over the coming week.

Since my biggest temptation seems to be fast food (*cough* Taco Bell *cough*), I'm going to concentrate on avoiding that over the next seven days. One of the strategies I'm going to employ in this regard is cooking some really delicious food this weekend, including pulled pork and homemade bread. I think I am also going to take my credit card out of my wallet on days that I am not likely to need it, which means every week day because I do my grocery shopping on Saturdays.

Major steps forward include joining Unroll.me, which is helping me clean the shopping spam out of my inbox so that I stop "just looking," and I haven't placed any online orders since the ban started. I wasn't concentrating on avoiding online purchases but it has definitely been a source of impulse consumption for me, so it's a win to realize that, though I've looked around several shops, I've managed to talk myself out of each purchase.

One specific item that I was very tempted to buy was a new case for my tablet. The one I had recently broke, so I got a new one that turned out to be spectacularly awful and I started searching for another new one. Then I reminded myself that I already had one that was uselessly covering my old tablet (to be donated) and it turns out that its nicer than I remembered, though it could use a little cleaning. Instead of buying new, I used what I had and am perfectly content with the result. #winning

Until next week!

Taco Bell: My Kryptonite

Last evening, after work, I tried to go to the library. As I should have expected, there were no parking spaces. There are never any parking spaces because our library has like three total and I'm pretty sure lots of people park there and then go to nearby restaurants. FREE PARKING! And no one can prove they weren't at the library (at least, no one's gonna try). I also didn't have money to park on the street because who the hell carries coins anymore?

Anyway, I didn't get to park, meaning I didn't get to get the books I reserved, meaning I was very disappointed. And, in my disappointment, I went to Taco Bell and bought myself dinner. Fast food is one of the things I've decided not to buy over the next six months. So, for the second time in 4 days, I broke my shopping ban.

Rather than viewing this as a failure and taking my normal fatalistic, fuck-it perspective, I'm trying to see this as a lesson. One of my triggers for spending (and eating) is frustration and disappointment. Last night, I did both.

Did it make me feel better? No.

Did it help me get closer to achieving any of my goals? Definitely not.

As I contemplated this situation, I started telling myself that maybe I need to ease into this ban a bit more, go easier on myself. The thing is, though, this ban isn't even really hard on me - the things I'm choosing not to buy are things I don't need and/or already have in abundant supply. So, instead of easing up, I'm going to learn this lesson about my behavior and do better the next time.

Also, I'll celebrate the fact that I've talked myself out of many purchases, including the books I'd like to get from the library... if there's ever parking. ;)

Day One

I'm actually on Day Three of my shopping ban, which will last 181 days total, but I thought I should admit that I broke one of my commitments on Day One. I bought art supplies. It wasn't a lot: just some elastic cord and fabric stabilizer that I used in the construction of a traveler's notebook. And it was *only* $5 total (yay coupons!). NBD, right?

It's not really a big deal but NBD spending is one of the reasons I've started this challenge. Going to a store for something "little" every day adds up to not having the money for bigger unexpected expenses. It means saving up for trips or other big ticket items takes longer than necessary or never happens at all. It means feeling too financially strapped to freely give to people I love and organizations doing good work. It also means realizing, as I purge unwanted items again and again, that the reason I'm surrounded by crap I don't care about is because of my NBD spending.

This post is a reminder that the challenge I've undertaken is not some sort of torture or deprivation; it's a way to refocus my priorities and to pursue bigger goals that I've been blocking myself from by constantly dribbling money.

  • Short-term goal #1: Save $250 to purchase bulk quantities of paper and book board by the end of March.
  • Short-term goal #2: Spend within my monthly income in January and February despite travel plans.
    • Sub-goal: Don't buy banned items while traveling.