Since I left my job in 2018 and became a stay-at-home mom, it’s been a long process of developing mindfulness in regard to my spending. When I was employed outside the home, I made a good salary and I often bought things without really thinking about whether or not I needed them.
In fact, I often bought things knowing full well that they were wants instead of needs. I was still putting money away in savings, I was still covering all my bills, so the rest of it was just mine to spend. And truth be told, something was missing in my life during that time, and I bought what caught my fancy because I wanted to feel better. That was my thinking, if you can even call it that.
But the problem with having absolutely no concept of restraint is that when you finally DO have reason to restrain yourself, it is so much harder to avoid making spending mistakes, and the guilt you feel when you’ve bought something you don’t need feels that much worse.
Developing a mindset of mindfulness for spending
Changing my mindset towards spending has been a work in progress since then, and I’ve often made mistakes. I’ve turned to Amazon or Etsy when I’ve felt down in the dumps, but somehow justifying it in my mind that we somehow *need* this gadget or that zero-waste swap.
(Just a sidenote: I’ll devote a whole post or more to “swaps” – how the zero-waste movement has been quickly taken over by consumerism and marketing aimed at making you buy more things and how that just contributes more waste)
An unintended side-effect of taking a more mindful approach to spending is that I often feel guilty about spending *my husband’s* money. I groan even thinking about it, it’s such an anti-feminist way to think, but I can’t help it. The money we have to play with was earned by him and even though I am the one who makes purchasing decisions in the home, effectively managing the money that he earns, I have a hard time now feeling like it’s MY money too.
I want you all to know that that’s not the best mindset either. You and your partner are just that – partners. That means you share what you have be it money, skills, time, whatever. As far as Chris and I are concerned, our money is OUR money, and it needs to be managed as such.
I believe this is a healthier mindset, and I’m trying to cultivate that. It means that I can let go of some of the guilt I feel when I buy something or do something nice for myself. I don’t have to suffer for the sake of the family. At the same time, this mindset encourages me to really evaluate my priorities and make purchasing decisions that align with my values, not just buying *things* to fill whatever void has opened up on a particular day.
Since starting my no-spending challenge at the beginning of the month, I am proud to say the only purchase I’ve made outside of groceries, gas or bills has been a birthday present for one of my son’s friends. And I took care to make sure the present was of high quality and something he can enjoy in imaginative play for years to come.
That goes for Chris as well – his only “extra” purchases were for a work-related lunch and a birthday present for a colleague.
Even on the days when I’m most exhausted, I haven’t given in to running through the drive-thru for lunch, or ordering something off Skip The Dishes for dinner. If I find myself short on time or energy, I’ve been finding things in my pantry to whip up quick meals in less time than it would take for a pizza to be delivered. I’ll do a post on how I achieved that too, since it’s not something I was particularly in the habit of doing before.
There has been temptation, though, that’s for sure.
In the 2 weeks since I stopped making purchases outside of necessities, I have noticed a sharp uptick in the number of advertisements I’m being shown on social media platforms. Facebook, unsurprisingly, is the worst offender. Maybe I should do a No-Facebook Challenge next, what do you think?
As I was scrolling my feed the other day, I noticed that every third post was sponsored. If you ever wondered about whether or not companies were surveilling you through algorithms, that’s your proof right there. But the further along I get in the month, the stronger my resolve is to not give those ads a second glance.
Not that this surprised me, but avoiding takeout and treats as part of the no-spending challenge has resulted in a bit of weight loss. I figured I was just one of those moms who DIDN’T lose weight from breastfeeding but turns out it was just all the junk food I was consuming, cancelling out any weight loss I would have had. So that’s a sobering thought, but a necessary one.
I’ve also stopped craving sweet snacks at night, which is awesome. I still enjoy snacks, but I’ve been reaching for healthier options like apples or popcorn.
All in all, I believe my no-spending challenge has been a great success. They say it takes a few weeks to establish a habit, and I can definitely see the truth in that. As I enter the third week of the challenge, I’m finding it much easier to say no to those impulse buys and FOMO moments.
I’ll post another update towards the end of the month!