Why I Started a Spending Ban
And the 3 things it taught me.
In 2016, I did my first spending ban that lasted 100 days. It started January 1st and ended on April 19, the day of my college graduation (happy coincidence).
I had never done a spending ban before, but after reading an article by Cait Flanders who was in the middle of a 2-year spending ban and getting rid of her extra stuff, the idea seemed like the answer to my financial prayers.
I wanted to do better with my money but I had debt and my spending was out of control.
In the 4 years I've lived in my house, I accumulated so much shit that my guest room is cluttered and clothes are sitting ON TOP of the dresser instead of in the drawers (okay, sometimes I'm just too lazy to put the clothes away but seriously, where did all my room go). I also have books stacked up still waiting to be read and the mail man just dropped off another Amazon package - a book.
I started this spending ban because I want to teach myself to be a conscious spender, to find money to pay down debt faster, and to give me a chance to get rid of clutter (that one will be a form of entertainment I guess).
The idea of a spending ban is great, actually doing it is tough. The first few weeks are the hardest. But something happens to you when you cut out excess. Whether it be cutting back on food, cigarettes, alcohol, or any other vice, making the conscious effort to do something different takes time and patience.
You learn a lot about yourself when you remove things from your daily activites
Just like you learn how bad your addiction to cigarettes are only when you make the conscious effort to stop. Or how you find that situations are different when you don't drink alcohol. Or, you don't know how much you need something (or don't need something) until it's not there.
A spending ban is like fasting and can teach you something about yourself and your spending. Here are 3 things my 2017 spending ban has taught me so far. My hope is that this story could teach you something about money and help you take a look at your own spending habits.
1. I am an emotional spender
When you're not able to spend money on things, you become hyper aware of your spending cravings. The longer they go on, the more you notice that there's a pattern.
I noticed that when I'm bored, I'll look through the shopping apps on my phone (Amazon, Google Play, Retail Me Not, and Jet.com). It's unconscious at first. I get this rush when I add things to my Amazon cart. Then it dawns on me that I'm on a spending ban, there's no money for this purchase.
After a few weeks, I noticed this happens every time I'm bored or sad. And even sometimes when I'm really happy, my mind wanders to things I could buy to "reward" myself. But not being able to close the spending cycle by finishing the purchase, I notice the whole pattern.
Going forward with this knowledge will help me make better decisions (hopefully) after this spending ban is over.
2. My money needs a job
After the second month on a spending ban, I found an extra $300. Although I consider myself a budget expert, the dam things still baffle me sometimes.
Money is like water, you need to channel all of it to where you need it or else it will seep into areas out of your reach.
My money needs to be told what to do! That extra money is too tempting to let it sit idle in my budget every month. So I'm putting it toward food, debt, and savings.
This spending ban is helping me to turbo charge my debt repayment plans (affiliate link), and put extra food on the table.
3. I have too much shit!
Since I can't spend money on clothes, books, or entertainment, I'm forced to use what I have to entertain me.
Side note, who the hell needs to buy clothes every month anyway?!
This spending ban is preventing me from bringing in new merchandise to the house so I started noticing all the shit I do have. There's enough books and DVDs on my shelf to last me years and my guest room and garage is a fucking catchall that drives me crazy!
So, this year's spending ban is getting me on a mission to hold a garage sale and donate what I can't sell. All the newer clothes in my closet is going to ThredUP (aff) and I'm actually going to read all my dam books before I buy new ones.
Have you ever done a spending ban?
Whether you've done one in the past, are thinking about doing one soon, or are currently doing one, I'd like to know what about YOUR experiences. What have you learned about yourself and your habits?
Just because we do the same things with our money doesn't mean our experiences are the same. That's why it's called Personal Finance.
Let me know how your spending ban experience has shaped the way you look at your money and spending habits.