Alright, here’s the recap from the past month of my Spending Fast. I’m doing it, but I can’t say I’ve been perfect. So, at this point in the past, I would just stop doing the Spending Fast. If I messed up I would just say to myself, “Well that’s it, I failed. I can’t count this now and I don’t want to start over again from month one.” So, instead of doing that, I’m just moving on. I made mistakes, whether intentional or not, and I’m still counting this as a part of my year-long Spending Fast. I hate that I messed up, but what would be the point in stopping now? This isn’t a game or a project. It’s about my real financial goals and just because I didn’t follow “the rules” doesn’t mean I’m disqualified and can’t do it. I need to remember that what I started five months ago IS leading to lifelong change, mistakes and all. I’ve already paid off over $10K of my debt, which is proof this is working.
So, I have discovered I have two primary habits when it comes to spending money, and overspending. One is good, the other, not so much. The first is the desire to experience as much as possible and not miss out on enjoying my life. I used to spend so much money on concert tickets, new and hip restaurants in town and vacations in the U.S. and abroad. I love all of these things. I don’t want to change that about me. It blows my mind when people just want to sit at home or stay in their own world, without ever dreaming about experiencing another culture or tasting a creative dish that someone put effort into making or listening to a fantastic speaker at a conference or watching a band perform your favorite song live. I know people like that and they may have thousands in the bank, but what’s the point of it? I want to live my life and spending will be a part of that again. I just need to do it in moderation compared to what I earn. That’s the key.
But I can’t go a year without some of these things. I’ve found ways to do a lot for free. I’m Yelp Elite. So every month I’m invited to different restaurants or events for free. I’ve also found tons of free concerts this summer and we already had a membership to the local zoo and children’s museum. We have kept busy in town without spending money. But my husband and I decided to do a small trip to Lake Erie for a weekend as a summer vacation. This didn’t fit into the Spending Fast, but I didn’t want my kids to miss out on a beach vacation. Maybe they won’t remember it, but I want those pictures in a scrapbook and I want to be able to share stories about playing in the sand and jumping in the water and all of that. So I planned for us to camp right next to the Lake for cheap, like $35 for two nights cheap! We already had a tent, sleeping bags, cooler, the beach stuff. All we needed to do was buy food to cook on the fire and I could count that as groceries that we would buy normally. I was feeling pretty good about my thrifty self until a huge lightning storm hit. We sat in our car while the rain poured on our little tent and watched the sky light up every few seconds. Needless to say, our first night was spent in a hotel…for $185, plus dinner at the hotel restaurant. Luckily, the next day the weather was perfect and we could camp, plus cook the food we had brought. Overall, we spent more than I had planned, definitely outside of our want/need list, but the memories are worth it. It was way more scaled back than our normal vacations, even with the slight change in plans. While crying in the hotel after everyone was asleep, I posted about this on the Spending Fasters Facebook group. It was so comforting to have people remind me I needed just to enjoy the time with my family, instead of being so upset about breaking the Spending Fast. I’m so thankful for that group! The support is amazing!
Now onto my other habit with money that caught up with me this month. I was feeling depressed about my weight. I haven’t lost the baby weight, after giving birth in April, and my clothes aren’t fitting the way I’m used to. So I looked in the mirror and said, “Screw it, I’m going shopping”. I spent about $100 at Old Navy on some loose-fitting tops and a couple of shorts that zipped easily. The worst part of this…I charged it. I knew I just could make my old clothes work. I knew I didn’t need to break the Spending Fast. But I wanted it because I was feeling so bad about myself. I also felt guilty and didn’t want to reconcile this in my checking account. I wanted it “hidden” and that’s why I charged it. There was no reason for any of it, but my emotions took over. I know I have to work on this.
I’m glad I’m recognizing these things about myself. Just more of the benefits of the Spending Fast that I didn’t expect! These were the two big moments this month that took me off track, but I can’t deny some other little things. Paying for a parking garage when I could have just taken more time looking for a spot on the street for much cheaper, eating out because I forgot to pack something, renting a movie on TV instead of finding something for free. But overall, I’m really keeping these things to a minimum, compared to my past behavior. These habits are hard to break but I’m glad I’m recognizing the ones that do the most damage and lead to “binge shopping/spending” for me.
Oh, one last thing, I paid off a credit card this month! So that’s two paid off in the past five months!
Starting Debt: $159,253
Start SF Date: March 2016
Debt Paid Off Total: $13,175.99
Estimated SF End Date: March 2017
To see all of Annie’s Spending Fast journey posts click on her name at the top of the post, and to follow all of the Spending Fasters click here.