Lately, I’ve been on a spiral. A money spiral. I’ve fallen into the lifestyle creep that so many talk about once you find yourself in a better financial position. Is it better that I’m aware that I’m doing this? I guess so. But no more!
You see, these past few months I’ve had two beasts on me: One beast says I should take this windfall of steady income to do smart things. ADULT things. Things like, contributing to a 401k, opening a Roth IRA, paying off my stupid credit card debt. And then there’s the other beast, the evil Kermit if you will (for you meme lovers), that says “TREAT YO SELF ALWAYS AND ALL WAYS.” So, like a junkie, I decided to stop this cycle of madness and take a good look at what I’ve been doing. I opened an account on Mint.com, closed my eyes, and let it do it’s thing:
As you can see, my “business expenses” are one of the biggest overages of my budget. To be fair, that was due to some extraneous fees that had to be taken care of, but it’s not like going over a budget is some anomaly for me. So I’m going cold turkey this month and I’m inviting you to join me!
Why Are You Doing a “Buy Nothing” Month?
There are a bunch of reasons, but here are the main two:
- The cycle of consumption needs to pump its brakes
This happened last year, too, where I fell into this craze of buying courses. Just hoarding these courses and blowing hundreds of dollars. Do you know what I learned?
Why? Because I’ve finished, like, 3 of them. All in all I probably have another 15 that I could spend some time on, but it happens to me a lot: I’ll get this FOMO and feel like if I don’t get X then I’ll never accomplish Y. It happens in my business (classes, apps) and my personal life (clothes, home stuff). It makes me feel like this Jabba the Hut sort of person that just keeps consuming and not paying attention to the horde that’s growing in the background.
- Buy spending more, I’m not utilizing what I have
I guess this sort of goes with #1. Do you know I accidentally bought the same shirt twice last month? And with those classes I mentioned last year, so many of them had overlapping content. By ramping my spending from 100 to 0, I can actually stop, breathe, and utilize what I’ve got.
Okay, I think I want to join you, what are the rules?
Look, I’m not unrealistic in realizing that I’m still going to spend money. The lights need to stay on, there’s work on our house that needs to be completed this month, the cats need to be fed…I need to be fed. But I’m curbing my hunger for more and stealing some ideas from I Will Teach You to Be Rich. Here are MY rules, feel free to pick and choose which feel right for you:
- Automatically withdraw debits from my pay whenever possible – For me this means my 401k and Roth IRA (plus bennies) are automatically taken out of my weekly pay before I even get to touch it. Once it hits my bank account, I have set up 4 automatic withdrawals:
- Money goes to our “House” account for bills and repairs
- Money goes to my general savings account
- Money goes to the savings account I’ve set up for my 2 goals: New car + 10 year anniversary mega vacay
- Money gets withdrawn and invested via Wealthfront
- I’ve set a goal on Mint to pay off my credit card debt by September 1. Based on this, I send a weekly payment to my cc automatically
- From there I’ve got about $100 a week that’s mine to do with what I will. Since I’m not buying anything extraneous this month, it’ll give me a $400 buffer that can go into savings if needed
- All bills are paid on my one CC I reserve for that. At the end of the month, that bill is paid in full via House account.
It will probably suck, because none of it is sexy, but that’s where I am in my life when I’m trying to be an adult.
So here are the rules:
- First, decide why you’re doing this. Like any habit, breaking it is going to get rough, so remember your “why.” (Mine is that I want to stop the cycle of spending and focus on getting my debt out of here)
- Second, realize how much you’re actually spending. Rip off the band-aid and take a look at it. You can’t make a plan if you don’t know what’s happening
- Make a budget and account for all of your normal stuff. Bills, food, utilities, gas.
- Automate good things that will move you forward. Hat tip to I Will Teach You to Be Rich for teaching me that. Rather than being tempted by this pile of money in my checking account, tiny little smart robots are moving my money around, making it harder for me to touch (and giving me specific goals so I don’t take “just a little.” The car, the house, and the vacation are more important than a new pair of shoes).
- Keep track. Like a true addict, I’ve gone so far as to mark the days on my planner when I haven’t spent anything, and I plan to do that again. At the end of the week, review how baller you are and start a personal finance blog to show everyone how much better you are than them. (Or just be really proud of yourself. That might be the saner thing to do)
Ready? We start tomorrow!