At the start of 2018 I was full of positivity. I was healthy, hydrated, organised, happy in my job, and ready to take on anything the year threw at me. Fast forward to now, and it is a different story. I have lost my way.
I have gone from eating a plant-based diet to comfort eating anything that is in my vicinity; my positivity is at rock bottom following some unexpected life events; I have had to freeze my gym membership due to an injured knee; and my job is not providing me with the happiness and satisfaction that it once was.
My main goal in life is to travel with my family, which means working extra shifts to save money, which in turn makes me frustrated, as does not being able to travel because of lack of funds. It is a vicious circle. And I am determined to get out of it.
Just last week one of my closest friends pointed me in the direction of a book, and as I began to listen to it there were certain points that really hit home. The author talked about being a compulsive spender, and the more she spoke about it, the more I realised, that was me.
My husband always says I am most happy when spending money, and he is right. The phrase ‘retail therapy’? That is so true for me. I use buying things as my therapy, as a way to make me happy. As soon as pay day arrives, I go a bit crazy buying everything that I have had my eye on (and compiled a list of over the month), because I want them. Because I’ve seen an advert, watched a youtube video, or someone has dropped into conversation that that product, or item of clothing, is ‘essential’. If I’m in town I will nip into New Look and pick up a top, buy a new moisturiser to try, or buy myself a coffee, and a snack to go with my coffee, because…because…I don’t know why?
Now don’t get me wrong, I am also conscious of what I spend, and I do worry about money and attempt to save whatever is left at the end of the month (if anything), but this has got me thinking about saving, and spending, in a whole different light. Save FIRST, then spend.
That brings me to today. As I join my friend and embark on a ‘Year of Less’. I will go into much more detail at the end of my first month, after I have settled into things a bit more, but in short, I have drawn up 2 lists:
- A short list of approved items that I know I will NEED over the coming year
- Things I am allowed to buy day-to-day
And that is it. Apart from the things on these lists, I am not allowed to spend…
Now, I am an impulsive person. It doesn’t take a lot for me to want to do something, or to think that something is a good idea. This, however, is something that I have thought very hard about, in fact it is probably the only thing I have thought about. I need to do this in order to save money, but I also need to do it in order to save me. And it starts now.
Any email that comes through from a shop, I unsubscribe. I went through my instagram account and deleted 150+ shops that I was following because I do not want that temptation there. I also will not be watching any YouTube videos of ‘monthly favourites’ or ‘skincare routines’ because, like I said, if someone says I need it, I tend to believe them. I need to change my mindset, which I know may take a few months, and therefore anything I can do to eliminate the temptation, I will do.
I also need to be accountable for the decisions I make, and that is why you are now reading this. Even if there is no-one out there (hello?), I am putting this decision on the internet, and I will tell people that it is here, therefore I need to actually follow through and do it. I will attempt to keep track of the percentages of my monthly earnings that I manage to save, and will publish this with each update. I have decided to take into account mainly MY earnings. My husband and I share 100% of our money, however our bills amount to quite a lot of money, and his wages tend to be put straight to one side to cover those outgoings, purely because he gets paid first! Any ‘extra’ he earns on top of those outgoings, I will include in the percentage saved. My wages then cover food, fuel, spends and the all important savings. I also tend to work some overtime shifts so the amount saved will fluctuate dependent on how much extra I have worked.
As I am being completely transparent about what I spend, we had already decided to redecorate Lyla’s bedroom and buy her a big single bed, the money we spend on this, along with paying off a holiday we have booked, will come from a small amount we already have saved. Otherwise, it is a completely fresh slate.
As well as saving money, the premise of the book also encompassed living a more simple life, and that starts with sorting out, and clearing out, the possessions we already have. We live a fairly minimal life anyway, and I am pretty ruthless whenever I do have a clear out, but I know there is so much more I can do. Some items I will gift to charity, some I will sell. This is something I cannot wait to get started on (I have a child-free day tomorrow in which I plan to put my music on LOUD and sort, sort, sort).
Without meaning to ‘copy’ what Cait, the book’s author, ended each month with, I feel that these two lines will sum up my progress:
Amount saved: 0%
Belief in myself to complete this project: 90%
And that’s that. My no-spend year begins. Wish me luck!!
The book that has inspired this can be bought here.