So before I get right into sharing some more tips that I’m learning during this no spend challenge, I want to share something I’m noticing about my shopping habits. I’ve heard it takes about 21 days to form a new habit so maybe this is what’s going on, but I’ll explain. In my last update I mentioned unsubscribing from all sale emails. Well, turns out I forgot to unsubscribe to one and yesterday morning I opened an email for a surprise sale of 75% off. Without even thinking I immediately clicked on the link and started browsing (and let me tell you the prices were fantastic with that big of a markdown). I even got so far as to put a few things in my shopping cart. Then I opened up the shopping cart and actually took the time to think about what I was doing. I looked at the total price and started to think about how not spending that money now could mean that much more money in my savings later. I thought about all the things I have sitting in my closet right now that could be substitutes for the items I was thinking about purchasing. I also reminded myself of this no spend challenge that I’m doing everything I can to stick to. I remembered that I didn’t need more “stuff” and I certainly didn’t need to spend that extra money on something that only brings temporary enjoyment. I closed out the browser, unsubscribed and deleted the email, and trust me when I say I was proud of myself for this step! Since starting the no spend challenge I’m seeing a change in my mindset, and it’s great!
Alright, now let’s get to some things you should keep in mind if you decide to take on this kind of challenge for your own finances.
Seriously, if you want the best chance of sticking to your shopping list, go shopping alone. Ok, this sounds a little harsh, but let me explain. I’m a planner. Before I even think about going grocery shopping I figure out my menu for the week. I create my shopping list based off of that (after checking to see what I already have in my pantry) and I always check the sale ads and coupon sites to see if there are any deals pertaining to anything that I need. So usually when I go shopping, I’m pretty prepared and try my hardest to stick to my list. Now when my boyfriend comes shopping with me that changes, a lot. He’ll see things he needs, but didn’t think about earlier (which I admit happens to me too sometimes) or something that’s on sale for a really good deal and the next thing you know our cart is a lot fuller than it was supposed to be. In our situation, this isn’t necessarily a budget breaker for me because we share expenses. The store we shop at has a card that gives you 5% off your purchases when you use it so I’ll usually pay for the shopping trip up front with my card and he gives me money from his budget to cover at least half of it. So in my case it isn’t that bad, though it does throw off my planning a little bit (I know, I may be a little OCD). However, if you cover the full expense of the shopping trip and worry about your shopping partner adding extras to your cart, you may want to shop alone.
So I started off this challenge knowing I needed to set aside money for a few birthday gifts and a mother’s day gift, but I’m encountering some other expenses that are popping up which could’ve been accounted for if I had planned ahead. To start off, my computer’s Office subscription and virus protection are both expiring and needed to be renewed. That’s $162 total in my case that I could’ve set aside over time if I had remembered to put a little away each month, only about $13.50 a month for the year would’ve covered it. I also just realized yesterday, as I opened my last pair of contact lenses, that I need to buy more. If you are a contact lens wearer, you understand just how expensive that can be. I’m looking at another $150 this month that I didn’t plan for because I didn’t keep stock of how much I had left. This is another expense I could’ve planned for. After these unexpected expenses popped up, I made it a point to sit down and write out a list of any expenses I have that may only occur once a year, especially if I have it on auto renew, I need to make sure I remember what’s coming before I’m hit with an expense I didn’t know about. This kind of list also comes in handy for places you have payment methods linked, in case you ever get a new card and need to remember where to update your info so you don’t miss any payments.
Stay tuned for Update #3 next week!