Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Spending Triggers (And What I Do Instead)

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I have my first month down using my 'anti-budget.'  If you don't remember that post, basically, in order to simplify my shopping ban journey, I gave myself a budget of $2,000 to use from June 1 until the end of the year.  It doesn't include the money I give to John each month that he handles bills with, or my health insurance and train pass payments, but it does need to cover pretty much everything else - including gifts.  Here's what I've spent so far:

  • $70 Dog Grooming 
  • $9 Walgreens
  • $69 Groceries 
  • $39 Brandless
  • $11 Starbucks
  • $57 Costco

Leaving me with $1,745 from now until December 31.  Which will actually decrease significantly soon, since I haven't yet paid for John's birthday gift (getting his truck detailed.)  It's crazy how quickly I can spend!  But they were almost all necessary things, besides the Starbucks.  And obviously with the Brandless and Costco, I'm set on household basics for awhile.  Big thank you to my friend Ida who lets me tag along and use her Costco membership.

Even with all of those things, I've been successful at avoiding a lot of other spending opportunities that have come up.  I think it's really important to identify spending triggers if you're trying to save money.  It's easier to avoid them if you recognize what they are, but also how to overcome them when they can't be avoided.  Here are a couple of mine:


This one is hard because it stems from my desire to acquire something right now.  I use the library for all my book needs so I don't need to buy any books but that can be really hard because you have to wait for the book to be available.  And no one is patient in this day and age.  The best way I've found to avoiding spending my money in this area is to keep a very long to be read list going.  That way, something on that list is bound to be available.  So while I'm waiting for that #1 book to come in, at least I can keep myself busy with a whole bunch of other reading options.

Eating / Drinking Out

When I want to eat out or order in, it's because I want something particularly unhealthy, like pizza.  Our kitchen is usually well stocked with healthy meal options, so I'm never wanting to eat out simply because we don't have food at home.  So what I started doing instead is buying a few comfort food items (like frozen pizza) at the grocery store and keeping those things stocked.  It's inevitably cheaper than ordering that same item at a restaurant.  I do still stick to my healthy meal plan throughout the week, but it's nice to have that frozen pizza splurge option come Friday night.  If you're like me and enjoy eating out way too much, you're just kidding yourself if you think 'ok, I'm only cooking healthy food at home from now on!'  Allow the splurge items.  Plus once you actually do venture out to eat at a restaurant, it will feel like much more of a treat rather than an every day occurrence.

Drinking out is a little bit different, because that is something I like doing with my friends.  But the plus side of summer is that all these events are outdoors - like street fests.  And as I've mentioned before, I just brink my own cocktail in a water bottle!  Purse alcohol, my friends call it.  I save a lot with this system.


It doesn't particularly matter what the item is, I tend to just be sucked in by sales and 'good deals.'  Except it's not at all a good deal if it's money you didn't intend or need to spend in the first place.  There will always be sales.  All the time.  On everything.  It's how the consumer market functions.  So there's nothing that you need to jump on oh my god right now because it'll just be on sale again.  After you've had more time to think about the purchase.  Personally, I unsubscribed from all emails because I don't need anything, and therefore I don't need the sales alerts.  I don't allow sales and store fronts to dictate what I need - my home does that.  I've narrowed down my ideal capsule wardrobe so I know exactly what pieces I ever need to buy, and if it comes up that I do need to purchase something, then I can start looking around for that exact item at a good price.  It works the same with makeup and home decor.  My home dictates if and when I need a shelf in the bathroom or a new mascara, not the sales cycles.  And besides just mentally being aware of this, I also declutter when I feel the urge to buy something on sale.  It definitely opens my eyes to exactly how much I don't need something.

Social Media

As a blogger myself, this can be a big one since I follow so many people who make so many recommendations.  I even recommend things myself, every Thursday (but they aren't all things you should buy, of course!)  It's very easy to get sucked into the trap of seeing something that looks beautiful or works so well for someone else and thinking that you need it yourself.  Even though you absolutely did not need it before you saw it being promoted.  There are a couple ways I combat this.  First of all, I unfollow anyone that is solely promoting things.  A lot of beauty YouTubers for example - I have my holy grail makeup items and I don't need anything else in my streamlined routine, so it's just silly to follow someone who makes me want a new lipstick every week.  Instead, I follow people who talk primarily about minimalism, decluttering, and shopping bans/saving money in general.  The other strategy I use is to just add things to a shopping wish list and then sit and wait on them for awhile.  If I find I still want them after a few weeks or months, I'll put it on my Amazon wish list that John has access to, which he uses to get me things for my birthday or Christmas.  Major win.  But most importantly, I just have to recognize that it's an entirely emotional response to want those things, but that acquiring them won't give me what that influencer is showing off in their (highly edited) life. Buying a new filing system or drawer divider or label maker will not make you suddenly organized if you're a messy person and haven't decluttered your belongings, for example.  There are a lot of ways to improve something you don't love in your life, but buying a product to fix it is hardly ever the answer.

What are some of your spending triggers?  How do you keep yourself in check?

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