So I had this brilliant idea that October would be a “no spend” month, or at least a “spend less/stop impulse spending month”. So in September I sat down and wrote this:
Saturday 29th September
I mentioned before, that financially things aren’t going well right now. I am stuck in a horrible rut with my depression and anxiety right now (yep, my depression is back. Yay- lucky me!) I have been emotionally spending.
To be honest, I’ve never been the best with money. I went from living at home with no income to living by myself at university where money appeared in my account three times a year. (That’s how student loans work in the UK.) Those times would be like “Yay money again! Spend!” There wasn’t enough money to even consider saving – it was a struggle to get the money to stretch across the months. You’d stock up on everything you needed when there was money and scrimp and dig into your overdraft when there was none. I learned to be very scared of checking my bank account, of ignoring overdraft fees, and generally, nothing particularly healthy. At the same time I was anxious and binge eating and wasting money in small but frequent amounts on food to meet my endless appetite. And I compared myself to others, began to want things I couldn’t afford. Without money there wasn’t much I could do. Then came work, and an income. My bad habits had the source they needed. More food, now takeaways of junk food and more expensive binging foods, and I compared and I wanted and I bought. The other week after a particularly rough week and a rough doctors appointment I went to town and spent and I went online and I spent and I went and bought a takeaway and I spent. I wanted to make myself feel better, but in the end I returned half the stuff (that I could) and feel vaguely guilty about the rest. It’s too easy to convince yourself that you need something, rather than just wanting it. To compare yourself to the images you see on social media of women your age with their West Elm furniture and designer clothes/makeup and to want, to compare yourself to your family, your sister and cousin who have bought houses and filled them with nice things and want. (So many people my age seem so settled and so together and it leaves me feeling anxious and like I need to prove myself like them somehow.) Look, I’m not so bad. I resist massive purchases, but the relatively small bits again and again all add up. I realise belatedly that I could have some of the more expensive things I want if I could stop wasting so much money on smaller and more frequent purchases. I hate how meagre my savings are. I know that saving interest rates are a joke in this country and that’s demotivating, but it’s no excuse. I feel scared that I have no fuck off fund – if things go wrong I have nothing to fall back on. Every unexpected expense – like an upcoming car service – is enough to make me feel scared. How am I going to afford it? I have some debt. Nothing awful, but small and persistent. I just can’t seem to pay my credit card off, despite capping it at a low and reasonable value (I am at least not so stupid as to arm myself with some massive credit card when I have not yet learned how to manage the little one.) So this month I want to do two weeks without spending. During this time I will be allowed-
– £40 food allowance.
– to pay for my doctor’s appointment next Tuesday and buy my meds
– to buy petrol
– bills obviously won’t count
– if the fish need anything, that won’t count*
* As in food runs out, filter breaks and needs replacing, that kind of thing.
I am going to try and leave the credit card at home and rely on my debit card.
I want, actually want –
– A fuck off fund
– To buy new drawers for my room, a new bed and new mattress
– To be able to pay for my car repairs without any problems
I can do this – maybe?
So two weeks morphed into the whole month in my head; I started with the best intentions to ace the two weeks and then onwards! To the whole month, easy as. But then…
Monday 8th October
I was involved in a minor car crash.
And everything went to hell.
Thursday 1st November
I have reviewed my bank account and October’s spendings are looking something like this:
– My car: aforementioned service, plus bonus! accident repairs (Also bought steering wheel lock to secure car when it was sitting on road side parking without a window….) Also petrol.
– Food: supermarket, takeaways, fast, food stalls, Starbucks, food delivery service, the works…
– Started Christmas shopping!
– Bought some makeup and cute accessories
– Bought a book. Ok, two books…Fine, three books.
– Also my Audible membership
– Bought a DVD.
– Typically, my moisturiser and cleanser chose this month to run out. So I replenished those.
– Bought a pajama tshirt with little fishes on it (it was on sale so I convinced myself it was meant to be. And I resisted buying the matching pants! )
– Therapy and doctors appointments and medication (I’m using private healthcare.)
– Rent and bills
– A couple of bus tickets.
After the accident my anxiety spiralled and I got into a weird headspace. I just kinda lost track of this thing, and there was also an element of it just seeming so pointless to scrimp and save over minor things like food when I was facing paying my insurance excess to repair my car, on top of its service, plus all my bills, my rent and medical costs. I felt and still feel rather overwhelmed by it all. Life is expensive and it’s very hard to begin forming good habits and saving when you are scrambling to cover necessary payments and unexpected little surprises like car crashes…
On the plus side, I have been restraining myself in some ways this month. I have done much less online shopping than normal – I only spent a little on clothes and makeup, compared to previous months, so I feel pleased with that. I forced myself to think through my purchases more, and I said no to myself more. The food situation is pretty bad – I need to stop being lazy and start cooking more and relying less on takeaways and fast food. (I refuse to give up my weekly Starbucks though; we all need something to look forward to.) (Let’s not discuss the binge eating.) I am also pleased that my Amazon usage was quite low this month, apart from the books. I failed to set aside my credit card which is annoying.
So some wins, some losses. I’d like to try again this month. I want to be less ambitious this month though. I think I should focus on continuing to say no to my impulsive online shopping, attempt to limit the amount I spend on food (perhaps this should be a no takeaway month?) and also be careful when Christmas shopping that I don’t start slipping too many things for myself into my basket! I want to keep my clothes/makeup and Amazon purchases low again. I am still reasonably determined to figure this out.