As someone who loves to spend money and loves the thought of retail therapy, I know firsthand how tempting it is to take advantage of good sale, buy a trending item I’ve seen on TikTok, or celebrate by going out to eat when I have perfectly good food at home. But I’ve learned that those little impulsive purchases can add up the hard way, and that hurts my budget.
But, somehow, even seeing what it does to my bank account hasn’t always kept me from spending. It’s easy to justify, especially when you feel like you’ve earned it and deserve to pamper yourself. And I know that I’m not alone. The memes about buying a llama with a tax refund tell me that I am not alone. So, I sat down, determined to stop buying stupid stuff, and did something about it.
The first thing I did was look at what I was buying and asking if I needed it, wanted it, or if it brought me joy. It was kind of the opposite of Marie Kondo-ing of my budget. I knew that bills come first: rent, utilities, car payments, insurance… those basics that keep a roof over my head and on my way to work.
Then, I had to look at how I was feeding myself. Was I going to eat, ordering from DoorDash?
And I also needed to set some financial goals. Did I want to take a vacation? Did I want a new car? Did I want to start saving for the down payment on a new home?
And then… I made the list. A list of reasons about why I needed to save my money. And a list of things to remember or ask myself before putting something in my cart or adding it to my online cart. Things like:
- You already have 4 books you haven’t read
Your closet has plenty of clothes, do that hanger trick
Being bored isn’t an excuse
Having more stuff will not make me happier
And the one that really made me think:
Is this (insert item) worth setting me up from missing out on my new home/vacation/car or setting back my future for?
I put it all this information into one place that looked very similar to this picture.
You don’t have to get this fancy! In fact, sometimes just slashing days on a wall calendar works just as well as anything this elaborate. There are actually free resources to help you with this challenge that includes free worksheets.
Some people may want to start with a shorter time as they adjust to limiting their spending on just the necessities. Maybe start with a 14 day no spend challenge. It’s up to you and how aggressive you want to tackle you spending habits.
I did my first 30 day no spend challenge and was fairly successful. I went 21 out of 30 days. But what was amazing is how healthy my bank account looked. It taught me restraint, it taught me to be purposeful with my purchases, and it taught me that I could control my finances to take that vacation, or buy that car, or get the down payment to a new home.
And I almost promise you, your bank account will thank you and – you’ll thank yourself.
You can do this!