When I started up the Spending Diet in January of 2011 to try to eliminate the remaining debt that I had I was shocked at how hard the Spending Diet proved to be. I thought that it would be easier than the Spending Fast. Since I had just completed a year of spending no money at all, the Spending Diet seemed like a piece of cake! Especially since I got a $100 “non-need” allowance. (When I first decided to do a Spending Diet I was going to give myself a $200 a month “non-need” limit, and changed it to $100 a month because $200 a month seemed waaayyyy too easy! *shakes head in disbelief*)
Turns out $100 is not really much money at all, and most months it only proved to be a gateway drug to spend more than I was supposed to, and often I felt frustrated that I wasn’t able to stick to my $100 limit.
Sticking to the Spending Diet was very difficult and that sucked. The guilt and remorse that was so often associated with my spending prior to the Spending Fast was back, this time though, I just didn’t have the debt cloud hanging over my head.
That discretionary spending was, once again, my problem, and my main issue. I found myself losing track of how much “non-need” spending I did, and more times then not, I didn’t want to keep track. I found that it was a lot more tedious to be on the Spending Diet because I had grown so accustomed to my “Wants and Needs” list of the Spending Fast. If an item was on my “Needs” list, it was okay to spend money on the item. If it was on my “Wants” list, “Nope, no spending on that!” The Spending Fast was cut and dry and that part made it very easy.
While the Spending Diet was extremely difficult, it eased me into thinking more “normally” about money.
This whole process has been so much about changing my thinking, and about changing my habits even when I don’t really want to.
And even though I was far from perfect on the Spending Diet it helped me go from the extreme of spending no-money-at-all to spending a-little-money-sometimes, it’s been more than anything, a transition. A transition that’s taught me how to be cautious with my money, and to not go all ape-sh*t wild like I really want to most of the time.
Like for example, I want to buy these shoes (why is it always shoes or boots!?) and it’s driving me nuts how much I’ve been thinking about them. I’ve looked at the website probably 20 times (at least) this weekend (um, crazy time-consuming! I’ve got stuff that really needs to get done, and I still can’t seem to control myself!), and I keep comparing them with other shoes, and trying to justify a reason why I need these shoes. The reality is, I have plenty of shoes. They’re just not those shoes, and I want those shoes on my feet! Like, yesterday!
Being on the Spending Fast, and Spending Diet has taught me that I can switch camps from being a “Spender” to a “Saver”, that getting out of debt it more hard than it is easy, that it takes a lot of time and repetition for habits to die and for habits to evolve. I’ve also learned time and time again that mistakes will happen, and that it’s really, seriously, okay that they do.
I’ve also realized that I seem to learn the most when I mess up. When I have to find a way to fix something that cements it in my brain.
It’s in the fixing that the true changes happen.
So, with that, this is how the Spending Diet shook out for 2011-2012…
Total Spending Diet Savings: $5,973.94
While that number is considerably lower than the savings from the previous year’s Spending Fast of $17,911.89 it is still pretty good.
(See my Total Savings from the whole deal here)
My habits are continuing to evolve and I’m making peace with the fact that even if I don’t do something perfectly progress is progress. Today, I can live with that; even if it’s hard to see the changes as they’re happening I’m completely amazed when I look back on the past two years and what I’ve been able to accomplish.
What have you been able to accomplish that amazed you? What habits are the hardest for you to change? What do you do to stay motivated on the days that you want to quit?