Tweaking the Shopping Ban

I think first up on my 'simplify everything' journey was blogging and social media, but I'm following it up quickly with my shopping ban.  I started to make the shopping ban too complicated.  Mentally, mostly.  Because obviously there's nothing complicated about 'hey spend no money,' at least on the surface.  But when I made my plans and rules for it, I just made too many loopholes and details and I didn't like keeping track of everything.  It became the opposite of simple.

I've been pretty solid on not spending money, at least in the first part of this year.  I cut way back on take out and paying for drinks at bars, which was a big goal.  But things started to slip this last month, I started losing focus.  When I first made the rules, I covered everything but made some good exceptions in there too, so at this point, it's become too much to keep track of - too easy to lose that focus.  That made me consider how I could keep up with a shopping ban for the rest of the year while at the same time really simplifying it for myself.  Not lose the heart of the ban, but lose the rules and loopholes.

That was when I started focusing on the anti-budget and figuring out a daily spending number that would cover everything else I would need to spend money on.  And then really, cutting that number way, way down in order to feel the pinch of the shopping ban that will encourage me to break bad habits (like takeout!)  Although I do plan on looking a little closer at my finances, particularly in terms of medium and long term savings goals, I was able to get a preliminary number to dial down from.

So!  From now until the end of the year, I'm keeping my daily number at $10.  About.  The real goal is to spend no more than $2,000 from now until December 31, and then start over on the first of the year with a new number.  I was originally going to make the number $5 each day, which would be $1,000 until the end of the year, but that would mean I would need to make a separate plan for John's birthday and Christmas, and this way just seemed easier.

Here's what's not included in that $2,000 magic number:

  • $1000 (monthly) to John, he handles the mortgage, electric, wifi, etc.
  • $306 (monthly) for health insurance.  What a stupid expense, but whatever.
  • $100 (monthly) for my train pass, to get to and from work.
  • $11 (monthly) for Netflix.  I don't watch it too much, but John does at the firehouse, so we keep it.
  • $100 (monthly to every 6 weeks, ish) for the cleaning lady.  An indulgence we love.
  • $200 (once) for getting my hair done.  It'll have to happen at some point before the end of the year.
  • $385 (once) for law dues, always in December.
  • This coming weekend in Iowa, I already have the money set aside for it.
  • Possibly, Hawkeye expenses.  Treats, food, and grooming.  I'm going to attempt to include these in the $2,000 number, but if they make it too tough, oh well.

Other things I already paid for this year, or have on hand, so I won't be thinking about: my contacts, Hawkeye's vet appointment, buying vitamins (I have so many where did they come from!), any makeup, nail, or hair products, a lot of household goods (we seem to be well stocked as far as toilet paper, kleenex, paper towels, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, etc.)... that's all I can think of right now.

Everything else, including gifts, will come out of that $2,000 number.  Also including groceries!  So any eating out, morning coffees, drinks at the bar, cab rides, etc., all of that comes out of that $2,000. I won't have to spend as much time worrying about whether or not it's a shopping ban violation, but I will still need to be very mindful of needless shopping (looking at you, adding random nonsense to my Amazon cart to reach $25 and free shipping), because even a small dollar pack of gum will eat away at that number.  Not that I chew gum, but you know what I mean.

I think it'll be a good middle ground for me.  It'll be very, very simple to subtract each purchase from that number, by tracking it in my planner each day (or each day that I spend money!) but the need to be very mindful of my purchases is still in line with the spirit of the shopping ban.  I'm still at $2,000, by the way.  As of the posting of this blog post, we're at full tank.

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