100-day Spending Ban 2017

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Bad habits die hard. Nothing like another spending ban to curb the ridiculous over spending

On January 1, 2017, I started a new year with a secret.

I decided to do another 100-day spending ban like the one I did last year.

This one started January 1 and will end April 11, 2017. 100 days of no spending.

I was not sure I'd be able to go through with it so I didn't set out to tell anyone. I waited a few days before coming out with it.

Here I am, writing to you. Telling you that I'm committing myself to another spending ban.

I'm happy and sad, excited and anxious.

This is a personal journey and, only after a week, I'm reminded of how much I've forgotten the lessons from my first spending ban in 2016.

More...

Accountability

The first thing I'm doing to keep myself accountable is make a monetary commitment in Stickk. For every week that I break my spending ban rules, $5.00 will automatically go to an anticharity. An anticharity is a charity that I DON'T support. And so I don't get into any heated debates, I won't share which one I chose.

But you can support me here (non-affiliate):

Support me on Stickk!

The second thing I'm going to do to keep myself accountable is track spending in my Mindful Budgeting Planner. The first quarter of the year should only have essentials. I've used this planner for 2016 and I can't imagine myself without it in 2017.

The third thing I'm going to do to keep myself accountable is to check into this post once a week. Instead of creating 14 different posts, I'll keep updating this post. Keep scrolling or use the quick navigation above to see my weekly updates.

The Rules

  1. No spending on books or household items that do not have an immediate purpose of life-essential necessity. That's a silly way of saying if I can live without it, I don't need to buy it.
  2. No spending on books, new courses, or tools for my freelancing business. Everything I have works perfectly today. A new tool can wait until April.
  3. No new clothing.
  4. No new shoes - I got new ones this past winter.
  5. Eating out is okay but MUST be with my limited grocery budget. Case in point, this weekend I could not go shopping because I ate out and spent the rest of my weekly budget for food. I'm going to learn to love PBnJ and Top Ramen again.
  6. I must travel with Cash (or at least a set limit in my debit card). Travel is a requirement this year but I cannot go over my budget for each trip.

Things That Are Different in 2017

This may be overkill but I'm also doing two 52-week money challenges the same time I do this spending ban. Yes, I said TWO. So in total, I'm doing 3 challenges at one time.

First one is the 52-Week money challenge that starts with $1 and increases every week by one dollar. At the end of the year I should have $1326. The most I'll put away will be $52.

The second is also a 52-Week money saving challenge but this one starts with $20 and at the end of the year I should have $5000 saved up. This one has a scale that you follow. First week is $20, second week is $35, fourth week is $125 and it increases each week from there. The average amount is $60 and the maximum amount is $195 (that's on week 44).

That may sound like a lot of money to stash but I was overspending at least $300-$400 extra a month. I should be able to afford at least $60 each week (on average).

I was going to use Qapital to help save the money from my challenges but had trouble signing up. Instead, my smaller 52-week challenge money will be going into my Digit account, since all I have to do to transfer money is send it a text message.

christine c renee money challenge 2017

So cute!

The larger 52-week challenge will be put into a Betterment investment account I opened specifically for this exercise. Transfers are also easy by using their mobile app. (Betterment on mobile won't let you take screenshots for security reasons).

Every week, while reconciling my budget, I'll transfer money into each account.

I don't have immediate plans for this money but one idea I had was to see how many years I could do this. In two years I'd have $11,000. More if the stock market does well. That's a nice size emergency fund.

It all sounds like a lot but I'm doing this to keep my money occupied while I do this spending ban. If things work out well, I may extend this spending ban to the end of the year.

Let's get started!

Week 1

Crap!

This is harder than I thought it would be. My how the mighty have fallen. I went back to my old habits in just a few short months. It's embarrassing to see how many books I bought in 2016. Good thing I like to read.

Today I needed to buy Q-tips. My mind started planning a full-on shopping trip. I even went full autopilot and made a list since I was going to pick it up at the grocery store (fuel points add up).

It wasn't until I was driving to the store that it dawned on me. Where the heck was I going to get the money?! Transferring money and spending it was automatic for me.

Granted, I have money in the checking but I'm on a spending ban, under strict rules. I ran out of my weekly allowance after spending the last $20 on take out (healthy takeout).

Defeated, I refrained from transferring money to spend on my debit card. I walked really slowly through the store repeating to myself how important doing this ban is to me. I walked out successful, only spending $$4.00 on two boxes of Q-tips.

I messed up on my Stickk commitment. I did not select the button that says "ongoing commitment." Because of this, it won't let me check in with my progress once a week. Today I had to set up another commitment but it won't let me check in on Sundays unless I started it on the 15th. Sad faces! So it looks like I started this commitment two weeks after the new year started. NOT TRUE. I just didn't start the monetary commitment on Stickk until two weeks later. grrrr...

Here's my weekly spending report from Personal Capital. This amount is from the 52-week challenge, Digit automatic savings, and food.

christine c renee week 1 spending ban check in

christine c renee 100 day spending ban week 2christine c renee 100 day spending ban week 2

Week 2

Well, this week wasn't so bad.

Being on a spending ban makes tracking your money easier. I reconciled my budget within 30 minutes.

I usually take 2 hours every week to do my budget. Making sure I got all transactions, keep on track with paying down my debt and making sure I have enough money to last upcoming bills. I usually run into missing transactions and an unbalanced ledger.

This week didn't take much time at all because I only had 4 receipts and 5 bills to track. It was really easy.

I did not have an urge to spend on anything since my week was very busy at my day job. I'm almost done qualifying on a new aviation platform. So excited!

The one thing I'm hoping for next week is that I can handle staying within my budget of $350 for a small trip I'm taking in a few days. I'll be out and about for 3 days but I don't want to lose the momentum I've built up in the last two weeks.

I'm torn between leaving my credit card at home and taking it with me. What if I get into an emergency at the airport or at the car rental. Well, the car rental needs to see a credit card anyway so I just need to stay vigilant and not use it for anything else.

We shall see how Week 3 goes.

p.s. I guestimated how much debt I paid off last year (2016) and it came out to around $9000, which included 2 credit cards and the rest of my student loans. Total student loan debt I have paid off: $12,750, in which the US Army paid about $11,000 worth in the last 8 years.

Week 3

Well, it didn't take long for me to slip up.

I messed up and spent money outside of my budget and on something I didn't need.

But here's my justification for it...

I've been a fan of the envelope cash-only method for over a year. It keeps me from overspending and helps me to make better decisions on what I buy. I use the cash-only for things like grocery, gas, shopping, toiletries, and other stuff that's not on auto bill pay.

The method has worked great for me but does not help for online purchases and requires me to carry around a lot of cash.

Enter ProActive Budget. (affiliate link)

Now before you click away thinking I'm about to do a shameless plug, hear me out.

Well, okay, it is a shameless plug but it's all part of my justification for purchasing the limited-time-only lifetime access fee for this product.

ProActive Budget allows you to use the envelope method digitally. Instead of carrying around cash, you carry your ProActive debit card and the smartphone app that allows you to release money to the card to make your purchases.

I spent the better part of an hour talking with the founder, Ryan Clark on chat asking him all about this new app. He says that the iPhone version has been released and users are eating it up. A handful of Android users have also signed up even though that version does not come out until March/April. Overall, people using this one-of-a-kind app are completely satisfied.

I'm an Android user but I jumped at the chance to not have to pay a monthly fee of $7. Now until January 31st, they are offering a lifetime membership. After that, you'll have to pay monthly to use the app.

But ProActive is the first of its kind! And I'm excited to try it out.

Tip: 
The best part about this app is that if you share a budget with a spouse, there's no more secret spending or after-the-fact request for forgiveness.

You can set your categories up so both parties need to approve a purchase.

I purchased the limited lifetime access fee of $145 since that offer expires January 31, 2017. Thus breaking my no-spending ban!

I have to be harder on myself in the future if I'm going to make this ban work. But since I'm a long-time fan of the envelope system, I know I'm saving money by purchasing now.

Here's the problem, though. I'm banking on the hopes that this app will be around for 3+ years. Since that's how long it will take for me to save money on this product, based off the amount I paid.

Although there's a money back guarantee once the Android version comes out, if this startup company does not survive more than a year, I'm out about $72-100.

I probably should have given myself a couple of days to think about it. And I may have saved money if I just waited for the app to come out in March.

Live, pay the stupid tax, and learn. Sad face (but I'm still excited to try this app out).

In other news...

One good thing worked this week. I was able to stick to my travel budget this past weekend.

I had to take a short trip to Washington so I gave myself $300 to spend. It worked out since most of my meals were spent at a family member's house. I came back home with $80 left.

Overall, I lost this week. But, but next week will be different. I promise.

I need to stay away from internet surfing!

Here's a snapshot of my spending this week ($145 was part of that $300, the rest were bills):

christine c renee spending ban week 3 personal capital

Okay, so I'm out for this week. Next week will be better. I promise myself.

Week 4

Better than last week but not good enough.

Due to medical issues, I had to ask a couple businesses to refund my money so I could put the extra money toward paying the dr's office, which is 100% of the cost until I reach my large deductible. Thanks AHCA.

Anyway, good news is I didn't buy anything I shouldn't have this week. I even purchased stuff from Amazon for the house but stayed within the rules. That was hard.

Bad news is I was too lazy to cook and ended up using most of my grocery money on my favorite takeout. Good thing my Hello Fresh box came in on Wednesday but I had no time to cook it until Saturday. I ate take out 3 days this week! Sad. So, obviously, I went over budget on my food bill this month.

The food budget is where I get in trouble every month. Food and shopping. The whole reason I started this ban is to get the shopping under control but the food is a bit harder to wrangle. I find it very hard to stay within my food budget when I'm starving and don't have time to make meals during the week. It's so frustrating.

The two options I have are 1. take away time I have for my business or myself to plan meals, shop for groceries, and cook enough food to last me 15 meals (3 meals a day, 5x a week). That takes about 10 hours out of my week. I know because I'm a nerd like that, I've tracked it.

Or, 2. keep using my Hello Fresh account. Using Hello Fresh cuts my time spent planning, prepping, and cooking down to about 8 hours a week. I still have to shop for breakfast and snack items, and cooking for the week takes around 4-5 hours.

Not bad but sometimes I just get fricken lazy, or I had to fix something with the business, or the dog pooped on the floor, or I just feel so tired and shitty that I couldn't think straight. There goes the time I need to fix decent meals for the week. Last weekend I had zero time and zero energy to cook for the week.

So what am I going to do about it?

Keep using Hello Fresh, make sure my weekend schedule has enough time to shop and cook, shop only one day a week, and use the envelope system to stay within budget.

I'm capping my food budget at $414 for February. That gives me 4 Hello Fresh boxes at $59 - which comes with 3 meals each box (most of the time) - and $40 a week to spend at the grocery store on Saturdays. That allows for fruit, beans, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and green onions to go with the top ramen.

I'm going to try harder this week. So far I have enough meals to get me to Wednesday so I gotta get back in the kitchen to cook some beans and rice!

Week 5

And a month in review.

As far as my money goes, January did not go as well as I wanted it to. I overspent on week 3 and 4. And week 3 helped me re-learn an important lesson about money habits.

If I'm not careful, I'll quickly talk myself into justifying a purchase, no matter how stupid, just so I can buy something.

"I deserve it." Or, "It's a good deal that will only be around for a limited time." Or, "if you don't get it now, it will cost more money later."

But if I sit down and do the math, I'll only be saving $20 if I buy something I don't need today, as opposed to waiting to see if I need it in the future and spend $20 more than today. It may even turn out that I don't need that thing in the future so I would save myself $60 altogether.

As confusing as that probably sounds, this spending ban is teaching me that I rarely, actually "need" something.

Revelation:
If the need for something is TRUE, say toilet paper, gas, puppy wipes, feminine products, I don't give it a second thought. I buy. BUT, if it's something I have to sit and justify, that's my first sign that I probably don't need it

Who said the first month would be easy...Well, I actually told myself that. I was wrong.

But, now that I understand where I can go wrong, I can recognize it and head it off at the pass. February will be much better.

I know this because Week 5 went better than any of the other weeks!

I overspent on food for January but from February 1st, I did not spend extra, on anything. Granted we are only 5 days in but today was the only day of the week that I spent money and it was for groceries.

And although I spent $16 over my weekly grocery allowance, I have enough food to last me until next Saturday (and enough meals all prepped for the week). This means I will be $16 short for next week's grocery trip, which will leave me with $26 for next week. Hello PB & J. I'm determined to make $400 work for February.

Cash envelopes will help make this happen!

Other good news for this month

I was able to carry over about $200 from January to use in February because of this spending ban.

I paid $470 extra to my debt in January. This brings my total debt down to about $18,000 (down from about $28,000 in the beginning of 2016, and nearly $30,000 in 2015 - sadly, I don't have exact numbers).

What I need to work on this week

I need to stay away from spending money on food this week and eat what I have in the house. I also need to stay away from Amazon and unsubscribe from merchandise email newsletters to remove temptation.

See you next week!

Week 6

Another good week!

Amazing, I made it another 7 days without giving into temptation. And remarkably, I'm still within my food budget (my biggest concern).

Speaking of temptation, these are the things that enticed me this week:

  • The new Jack Reacher movie on Amazon Prime.
  • Ryan Biddulph's Amazon book, 6 Things You Absolutely Need on Your Blog (I got the free Kindle sample but it was really good, I wanted to keep reading).
  • Moleskine datebooks and notebooks (I've had my eye on these for almost two months now).

I managed to get to Sunday without buying any of these!

Now that the new week is starting I feel like I'll be in the clear for at least a few days - it's going to be a busy week.

Other things

While checking into my budget today, I noticed my food budget is the hardest one to manage. I gave myself $40 a week to buy breakfast items and fruit but this past week I went over that and had to spend money from next week's allowance.

I figure I need to eat less or purchase more smartly.

Now before you go saying, eating less is just going too far, hear me out.

I'm already on a vegan/vegetarian diet so I don't buy meat. Most of my grocery items are fruit, vegetables, tubers, nuts, and grains. Things that need replenishing each week due to running out or spoilage (which is something I try not to do).

And aside from the fact that I need to stop eating so much ANYWAY, I could use to slow down my intake of food, at least for the health benefits.

What do I mean?

I'm talking about Intermittent Fasting.

It's an eating pattern (not a diet) where you only eat during an 8-hour period and fast the rest of the day.

No, I'm not crazy, I actually tried this early last year when I first started the whole foods, plant-based diet.

Once I figured out how to eat the right kinds of foods to nourish my body during the 8 hours - so I could go 16 hours without eating - and once my body got used to the new diet and feeding schedule, it worked quite well.

I saved money because I didn't have to eat so much, I lost some weight because I wasn't eating so much, and I actually had more energy because my body operated better without having to constantly digest food.

Trying something new this week:
I'm going to be doing some intermittent fasting. I'll see how it goes with my budget and my belly.

In the debt corner

I've been using Undebt.it (aff) since last year and it has gotten me back on the snowball debt payoff method.

I love this desktop app! I inputted all my debt and the extra money I'm able to put into paying off debt and it created a snowball payoff method for me, FOR FREE.

If I stay on my current course of paying an extra $300 toward my debt every month, I will be completely debt free by November 2018. If I cut back on more expenses and throw an extra $200 at it more a month, I can be debt free by June 2018.

For now, I'm going with November.

You feel more in control of your debt and your money when you can see where the end is. And it's excellent motivation to keep you focused on paying down debt and avoiding more debt each month.

How's the 52-week challenge

The two 52-week challenges are doing well. I'm excited.

52-week challenge #1 already has $28 saved. It's going to a normal savings account.

52-week challenge #2 already has $375 saved. This money is going into an investment account.

It's been 6 weeks and the money that I normally spend going over budget and shopping is being saved and invested.

This challenge seems easy now but later in the year, the monthly put-away is upwards of $452. I don't know how that's going to pan out.

That's all for this week. I feel accomplished! Next week I'm going to try and do the same.

We shall see...

Week 7

A new direction!​

Aside from going over the birthday-gift budget by $50, I didn't go over any other budget categories.

What I should have done was make my gifting budget $100 instead of $50, I knew this person deserved more than a $50 gift. So, I took it out of my savings fund for this month.

And, although I didn't go over my food budget for this week, I spent it frivolously.

With $50 left to spend for extra food this month (not including my Hello Fresh meals), I spent $26 on fruits and veggies but dropped $14 on a Papa Murphy's pizza. That only leaves me with about $12 left to last me the rest of the month. 

BUT, the pizza tasted AMAZING! 

In other news...

I'm taking my finances in a new direction starting March 1st!

I listen to the Dave Ramsey podcast every chance I get. While walking the dog, driving to run errands and to work, and sometimes when I'm cooking and cleaning.

This past Friday, I listened to podcast #8403 dated October 2016. It dawned on me, even after reading the Total Money Makeover and going through Financial Peace University, I was still getting it wrong with my money.

I've been one of those people making stupid choices with where I put my money. It's so engrained in me to save that I lost sight of my long-term goal of getting out of debt.

I spent at least 4 hours reviewing my budget and finances today and I tweaked my budgets for March and April, just to see what it would be like if I stopped all my savings and investing, cut out unnecessary spending (like personal and shopping), and focused that extra money toward my debt.

Turns out I found an extra $1300 in my budget! 

Talk about scorched earth!

When I put that extra amount into my Undebt.it account and applied it to my snowball method, I would be out of debt by March of 2018!

P.s. I'm also sharing with you how much debt I actually have left:

undebt.it

So here's what I'm changing:

1. Starting March 1st, I will no longer be doing the two 52-week challenges.

2. I'm reducing the amount of money Digit will save for me. I just sent them a text telling them to stop saving if my account gets lower than $1000. My account is RARELY over that amount for long so my saving frequency will be greatly reduced. By the way, last month Digit saved me $73.99 and $214 in December, all without me realizing it.

3. I'm also going to stop saving to my Betterment Roth account.

4. And, I will reduce my regular savings for Bubba and vacations down to $100 a month. Yea, I know I shouldn't be taking vacations but I need to see my aging family.

I will continue to post about how this is working out for me.

Recapping from last week...

About intermittent fasting, I had problems two days last week while on this new feeding schedule. I attribute my problems to being on the night shift. 

I think intermittent fasting works better on the day shift because you're sleeping during most of the fasting phase.

On Tuesday, I had to eat something small before bed because I couldn't get to sleep on a grumbling stomach. Wednesday, the same thing happened but I was able to sleep it off. On Friday, I had to give in again.

I really like this diet, er, eating schedule - it's not a diet.

If I can get past the hunger pangs (which only last a little while and can be quenched with water, coffee, or tea), I feel better. I feel better when I wake up, and I feel better when I go to bed because my body isn't slowed down by constant digestion.

I read something from Lindsay Nixon about intermittent fasting and she explained that if you look at hunger pangs as a sign that your body is starting the fat burning phase - and not as an indication that you're dying - it's easier to get past the hardest part of the change. 

I'm guessing it will take me a few more weeks to fully get used to this new eating schedule but it is working, as I feel lighter and my work pants fit just a teeny bit better.

I do a weigh in next week to see if I've lost any weight after two weeks of intermittent fasting.

That is all for now!

Week 8

3 things I learned about my spending and finances!

Hello friend, ​I hope you realize that the things I post here are not only a way for me to vent and document my spending habits and finances, but a way for you to think about your own finances and spending habits.

I hope you learn from my mistakes and that my revelations help to spawn your own revelations about money to change your relationship with money for the better. 🙂

Thing 1 - Ask yourself this question...

With that said, I'm currently reading the book Your Money, or Your Life by Vicki Robin and it talks about how our behaviors reflect our values when it comes to relationships and money (and our relationship with money). But I'm not going to talk about the book (yet) I'm going to talk about how that book is a perfect thing to read when you're trying really hard not to spend!

Next time you make a purchase, ask yourself:

"Does this purchase align with my goals and values?"

Although I haven't done any spending for the last few weeks, I posed this question while thinking about all the things I spent money on before I started this ban.

The answer was that I was bored, sad, or wanted to look cool or smart. Seriously. I could not find any purchases that truly aligned with my goals except buying books, since one of my goals is to read more books. But truly, none of my purchases stand out. 

This led me to thinking that a "good" purchase would be one that stands out in your mind months later like a trip to someplace new.

The power of the above question is that you can probably control 90% of impulse spending by answering that question first.

Thing 2 - Pay only what you need to pay...

Since the end of week 7, I've been messing around with my budget trying to find more money. All the budget tweaking and scrounging got me looking at the budget items I have to keep.

I asked, "is there any way I can cut the expense of current expenses?"

The next morning I woke up with the idea to check my variable "fixed" life-essential expenses like Electricity, Gas, and Water. Of all the utility items these three are the ones that change month to month and season to season. So, I went on a journey to see what I've been paying on them for the last 18 months (February 2017 to August 2015).

Let me ask you something...

How do you pay your utility bills?
Do you check on them every month to see what you owe and pay that amount?
OR
Do you just throw a roundabout amount high enough to cover your usual bill?

I've been throwing a random amount high enough to satisfy my monthly electric, gas, and water bills every month. I thought this wasn't a problem since I would get credit for the next month if I paid too much.

Guess what!

When I looked at my past usage/billing, I saw I was probably paying too much every month.

Example: For the month of March, I don't even have to pay my water bill since I"m ahead, my gas bill is $2.08 due to credit, and my electric bill is $45 due to a small credit from last month. 

Paying only what I owe next month got me $105 extra that I could put toward my food or debt bill!

What the hell woman! I've been doing this all wrong! I guess the fasting and extra time I have to think (since I'm not spending) helped me realize it's a better idea to only pay what I owe on utilities, or ANY bill for that matter so I can keep better track of my money. I guess I'm also a hypocrite since I wrote about the act of not tracking all your money could be sabotaging your budget. Mea culpa, so I learn.  And, better late than never! 

Thing 3 - PMS makes it hard to resist spending urges!

Alright, I'm not one to blame my crazy behavior on PMS - well, most of the time - but since I have all this time to think about my finances and spending, I found that at least once a month, it's VERY hard to resist impulse buys. And not only impulse buys, it's easier for me to be tempted to go purchase something to make me feel better. I just need to spend on something (ANYTHING). Call it boredom, I call it crazy but true.

This revelation may help women understand that hormonal changes not only affect the body but also the mind. Male readers, take note. You may also have hormonal changes that could affect your resistance to spending urges. They may not be as cyclical as a woman's but you do have changes.  I'm not a health expert but it's just something to think about.

I now believe I've had this spending habit for a long time. I wish I could go back years and track a pattern, sadly, I can only go back as far as late 2015 thanks to Cait's Mindful Budget Planner & program.

Call me silly, and you'll get a laugh, when I feel overly tempted to buy, I go get a free mobile app and play with that until I get bored. One free app I downloaded this week was Penny. A new, friendly way to keep track of your expenses, Penny groups your spending into four categories and lets you know your spending trends.

Even though, Penny is more for younger savers and first-time earners, there's always something new I could learn from her. I think she's a keeper (use my referral code from here to sign up - navigate to "track your money").

Here's what she found about my Amazon spending (pulled from transactions occurring from Nov-January):

the new Penny mobile app

Downloading free mobile apps usually satisfies my need to buy something. That, and a spending ban!

In other news...

How's the 8-hour food window working? It's going but it's not working as well as I'd like. While I'm still able to make my meals last within that window, my work does not allow me to eat during a 4-5 hour block sometimes. That throws off my whole 8-hour window.

But I'll keep with it for now to save on food costs and keep the weight down. I have only lost 2 lbs so far.

Speaking of keeping food costs down, I am going to stop my Hello Fresh deliveries and go back to planning my meals and shopping trips.

I don't know if it's the intermittent fasting or what but the Hello Fresh meals are not enough to keep me satiated. I want bigger meal portions so I'm going to use the recipes from Hello Fresh and make them myself, only in bigger batches.

My hope in doing this is I will save money and have more to eat.

Finishing up Week 8....

I know this one was long but there's a lot I learned about my money and spending this week, I just had to share it all in the hopes it could help you do better with your money.

This week I did not spend on anything I didn't need but I gained a lot of valuable information about myself  and my spending.

Until next week, spend according to your goals and values!

Week 9

​And another month on the books!

Hey there friend! It's been 9 weeks - 2 months. I want to take this time out to thank you for sticking with me on this #spendingban journey. I hope the things I learn this year can help you find your own way to managing your money better.

This week it dawned on me that my goals for doing this spending ban weren't very clear. Just in case I missed it in the beginning, I wanted to talk about them this week.

4 spending ban goals

My first goal for this spending ban is to save money. I won't be buying things so I should have extra money left over each month.​ In fact, I've got $303 left over from February!

Second goal is to stop the dam clutter. Since I'm not distracted by new stuff coming into my house, I'm very aware of the things that are in my house. My guest room and garage are full of shit I didn't know I had and haven't used (or have never used). I can't believe I have so much shit that I don't use!

Third goal is to pay off my debt once and for all. I've been toying with the idea of extending this spending ban the whole year. It would allow me to pay down debt faster.

Fourth goal is to get control of my spending. I'm an emotional spender, and like I realized last week, PMS doesn't help. I think this is something I will always struggle with. I need to be a more concious spender if I want to control my money.

Here's how the week went

I'm really liking the Penny app. This is the first money app that breaks down my personal money trends and gives me a daily perspective on how my spending is going. 

penny app daily spending

I've never thought about how much I spend a day on things like bills and food, not to mention spending.

Moving on...

I've finally gotten my overspending on food down. For February, I only went over my food budget $4.83! That's still over budget but at least it's less than $10. March will be on point.

This week I checked into my Undebt.it (aff) account to see what my debt payoff progress was looking like.

undebt.it progress report

After checking this out, it dawned on me. How much debt have I paid off in the last year?

The last of my student debt was paid off in March 2016 (In March I paid $3948.71 - student loan total was $20,586). But that wasn't the only thing I paid off last year.  A check of my records showed that I paid off a small personal loan and a 4th credit card ($2095.75) and about $3721.87 of my vehicle since buying it in April 2016. I totally forgot about these things because I wasn't tracking them. In total, I've paid down $9766.33 of debt since getting serious about it in 2016. And I have one more year to go toward being debt free if I stick with it.

And those pay offs are in addition to the two credit cards that were paid off recently, showing on the Undeb.it image above.

I should have been tracking every single debt that I've paid off. It helps me to stay focused and give a feeling of accomplishment. After checking past records, I'm more motivated to keep this up!

Pro Tip:
I hope you are tracking every single debt that you're paying, or have paid off. looking back at how far you've come helps you to stay focused and gives you a feeling of accomplishment!

So how did week 9 go?

It went well. I've got another week of no spending on non-essentials under my belt.​

Hey, let me know if you have comments or feedback, or even questions in the comment section. I'd love to hear your thoughts on spending bans.

until next week!

Week 10

March is the month of blessings.


I've been dealing with health issues for a few years now. I've gone to many doctors who were quick to get me on medication that would treat the symptoms. None of the meds worked and none of the doctors listened to my thoughts on the matter probably because what I thought wasn't mainstream "doctor science stuff."

I knew it was a hormonal imbalance because I just wasn't feeling myself. I've always been active but since I quit smoking and drinking alcohol, my body changed. And not in the way I thought it would. Things actually got worse.

I'm always tired and agitated. I used to be a gym rat (yea, almost competed in a bodybuilding contest one time - oh the glory days) but now I can't get my fucking body out of bed, even after a full-night's rest of 8 hours. It doesn't matter, 6 hours, 7 hours, 8 hours, or 10 hours, I still feel like shit in the morning. And my energy doesn't get better until I'm ready to go to bed. What the fuck body?

Last month, I finally found a doctor that listened and who finally got me the testing I needed. This month I learned it WAS my hormones. A large multi-faceted hormonal imbalance triggered by high stress, a sedentary lifestyle (thanks to my day job and aching joints), quitting smoking and alcohol, and a genetic mutation that would prevent me from getting the full benefits from certain essential vitamins and medications. It's not early menopause but a conglomerate of factors that could be fixed with natural supplementation and exercise (ugh). The blessing in this is that I WAS RIGHT and now I'm on the right path with the right doctor.

I'm going to write more detail about all this soon.

Other blessings this month...The universe wants me to spend!

This month I received a $500 gift card from my day job for participating in a bio-metrics screening and high deductible health plan. This gift card needs to be spent in 12 months or else I'll loose it.

And I can't save it or transfer it into my savings account, nor can I pay down debt with it since my debts don't let me use a credit card to pay.

But wait, there's more! Also this month, my cable company will be sending me a $25 gift card just for being a customer. And I found an extra $150 in my budget this month.

I'm thrown off by these gifts and I started itching when my brain thought about all the things I could spend it on! Yikes!

As of this writing, I've used $100 of the gift card on supplements that could help me feel better and a bike helmet so me and Bubba could go faster on the bike.

Since this is a gift that needs to be used, could that count against my spending ban rules?

Some people say no. But my heart feels like I'm cheating. BUT I also feel that God has seen that I'm fit enough to use it wisely so I need to make good on this blessing. So, I immediately put that extra money in my budget for this month and left an open space to put the leftovers in next months budget. My plan is to spend the rest of the $400 on a water softener for my house. The water here is full of sediment and the crud is slowly damaging my plumbing. I think a wise way to spend this fruitful blessing is to spend it on something that would up the value of my home.

What do you think? I'd really love to hear your thoughts about what you would do with a moderate windfall like this. I'm not going to count this against my spending ban rules.

Week 11

Blessings turn into challenges...

Current health challenges have gotten to the point that I can't concentrate for longer than 5 minutes and my patience with anything and anyone has dwindled.

Brain fog has been my best friend for the last few weeks and this week it has shown it's worst face.

At this rate, my yearly goal of reading 18 books will not be accomplished. Especially if I cannot get this issue under control.

So this week will be short.

Really. Short.

I did not reach my weekly goal.

But I'm not going to pay $5.00 to my anticharity.

This weekend I found/made a substantial amount of money de-cluttering my home and having a yard sale. And when I say "substantial" I mean it's enough to cover a month's worth of grocery bills.

It took me 4 months to slowly gather unused items from the house and build up the courage to hold a garage sale. I'm glad I did.

The success of this weekend's yard sale inspired me to continue going through my clothing items and 3 hours later, I have 3 boxes and 1 ThredUp bag packed up and ready to sell.

Other than that, it's been a rough week. And an even rougher one on the horizon.

Week 12 -16

Going out with a whimper instead of a bang

I'm going to be honest with you. I gave up on my spending ban 2 weeks ago. 

I got burnt out with everything that had anything to do with being on WordPress. Everything started stressing me out!

Just the sight of my inbox made my stomach churn. Client deadlines were the only things I got done, everything else went out the window. To-do lists, calendars, planners, I wanted to burn them all. If there was a virtual bomb that I could drop on my digital life, I certainly had my hand on the button to launch!

My day job turned up the stress and I wasn't sleeping or eating well because I was just too dam busy. The laundry piled up - turns out I have enough clothes to last two weeks. Then the laundry camped out in the dryer for another week until I was forced to move the clothes so I could dry other clothes. And the dog started to look unkempt and started smelling like a sweaty dog. And the house was a mess. I gave up. I stopped writing and blogging for myself, I stopped reading because I couldn't concentrate anymore. I needed a break.

I'm not going to go full-on pity party on you. I want to share this story so you can see this is actually normal.

At first I thought I was a failure but later I realized I was over working myself. If you're a side hustler, freelancer, or small business owner, you may be all too familiar with this scenario. There really is a time where you'll get fed up and be tempted to walk away. 

If/when that happens to you, you should allow yourself to feel that way but take a few steps back and take a break. Finish up client projects, delegate more work to others or to your assistant so you can take time to decompress. A long time. Weeks or months if you can stand it.

I needed 4 weeks and a failed project to get me back in the game. 

My failed project: This 100-day, 16-week spending ban.

I made it up to Week 13 and gave up. But, I didn't go all out crazy with my spending. I bought two books under $10, $100 worth of clothes from ThredUp (aff link) to replace the 2 boxes of clothes I donated, and 2 boxes I sold at a yard sale. I also paid for someone to fix an electrical box in the ceiling of my guest room and someone to install a whole house water softener. Oh, and I treated myself to a whole bunch of junk food and take out (thus the need for bigger clothes - ha!).

Even though this project is not a full success, I still did good things with my money. It was very hard but my entire tax return went to pay down the last part of my debt. I feel like I'm in the home stretch now because that tax return payment just shaved 8 months off my original debt-free date.

April debt payoff progress

That $20,000 was from May 2016 when I bought out my car lease. At the time I also had credit card debt I didn't track in this Debt.it app (aff link).

So, now what?

Now that this spending ban is officially over, I'm thinking of continuing it so I can have more money to get this debt done by September of this year.

Only, I won't be tracking it in my Stickk account and managing a weekly tally of my no-spend actions here on the blog. It will just be a personal goal to be more conscious on how I spend. 

Something else I've been doing while away is decluttering my house, getting rid of shit that is just taking up space. In the month I've been away, I had two yard sales and made a total of $175, gave away a home stereo and other electrical equipment, donated a bunch of clothes, gave my brand new military uniforms to my neighbor who was called up to active duty, and I've been getting better at throwing things out - I'm still working on getting those unread magazines out of the house though.

I love the look and feel of a nearly empty room, uncluttered by shit that I haven't touched in 7 years! I'd rather have no stuff than stuff I don't use. I can't describe the stress that is lifted when I look around at all the clear table and shelf tops. It's got me on a roll. I'm going to continue to get rid of stuff by giving it away or throwing it out.

If you've read all the way down to this part of this post, you're AMAZE-BALLS! Thank you for hanging out with me, letting me drone on and on about my first-world problems. I hope you can take something from this long-ass post.

Inspiration, ideas on how to manage your own spending and clutter, or found a new tool from one of the links I shared. I'm on a mission to do better with my money, manage my small business efficiently, and live well. In the process I hope to inspire and give hope to others struggling with the same things I've gone through.

​Thank You!

If you're on a spending ban, thinking about starting one, or have done one in the past, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!





2017 100-day Spending Ban

Christine C. Renee

Hey there! I'm Christine, a freelance money and business blogger helping solo biz owners and side hustler superheroes manage their money and productivity. By day, I work as an Army Aviation flight instructor and at night I create engaging content for clients in the areas of money and small business. I'm also on my way to paying off all my debt by November 2017 read more about that here.

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