The One Where I Continue to Fail at Not Spending

I’ve been hibernating inside all day because the weather is just vile right now – icy cold and spitting with rain. I have spent most of the day in bed under a huge pile of blankets with the heating on, trying to stay warm. And I have been reading. Pretty much finished an entire book today. It’s been a long time since that happened, I just don’t read like I used to, and I often find myself picking things up and putting things down again. But I started the Jackson Brodie series by Kate Atkinson the other week and I am completely immersed in it. They are slightly odd books and a little improbable, but clever and interesting and with a dark sense of humour.

(I will add though that I did do some good deep cleaning today, in preparation for the new year. I started in on my living room, and in particular I took all the books from my bookshelves and dusted said bookshelves and rearranged all my books as well as the pictures, art and knick knacks I have. (I’m not one for minimalism. Bring on the knick knacks.) But anyway – I remembered working in the bookshop, hours spent rearranging books, how peaceful and enjoyable it was. There was nothing better than those days when the shelves were half empty and we had a huge chunk of books to go out and it was down to me to bring them down and set them out. I can happily spend hours sorting books – making sure they are in the right order, alphabetically, making sure all the spines align, that the shelves are balanced out, spreading the books evenly across the entire set of shelves instead of cramming them in on one shelf and leaving others with hollow spaces. I almost felt a little annoyed seeing customers come and mess up my alignment, my spacing, put books back wherever instead of in the exactly right alphabetic position (ma before mc there is a difference) anyway. I had some chill music playing and my Christmas lights on and afterwards I felt so very relaxed. If only I had a constant input of new stock to be sorting and shelving. I sometimes miss volunteering at the bookshop. )

I realised I never posted my November spending recap , even though I did write it. So I thought I’d post it now. I’m not sure anyone wants to read these or why I am still writing them, I guess I’m trying to hold myself accountable.

It’s proving very difficult to reign my bad spending habits in.

So.

Things I spent money on in November:

– Food – supermarkets, fast food and takeout. Starbucks. Only had takeout once though – trying to resist! Also didn’t have my food box this month – thinking of cancelling it to streamline this category more. Let’s still avoid talking about my love of chicken mcnuggets and chocolate when stressed and/or hormonal.
– Plastic plant pots and trays. Wanted to propagate my schefflera plant. These weren’t expensive.
– Christmas Presents. These really added up, but I’ve done most of my Xmas shopping now so finances can breathe a bit in December.
– Two new work skirts. My current work skirt, that I wear everyday, has a giant irreparable hole so I needed a new one. I had a voucher for a particular shop so went there, saw two skirts I liked, couldn’t decide between them, and so got both in the end. These will get a lot of wear though. And because of my voucher I got some money off.
– A cushion. As in a couch cushion. It was very on sale so I got it. It is awesome and I’m so glad I could get it on sale, as I really wanted it, but the full price was too much for what it is.
– Audible Membership. But no books! ‘Shopped’ my bookshelf instead.
– DIY thing. I needed some plastic spacers.
– Floor cleaner.
– Rent and Bills.
– Car – Petrol.
– Two DVDs and a CD. Desperately wanted the new VIX live DVD and to watch The Sinner. Pretty expensive though :(
– Makeup I don’t need (oops). I put in a big Revolution order on a whim. This is my one “I was feeling emotional….” purchase and although I’m pleased it’s just one, I’m still annoyed with myself about it. Not necessary!
– Skincare and makeup actually need / had been thinking about for some time. Needed a replacement for my cleanser which had run out, wanted to try out the Missha glow me range and the Etude House double lasting serum foundation. These makeup items had been on my mind for a while, and I do use base items a lot so I give myself a pass on these.
– A new skirt and trainers. This wasn’t impulsive but it wasn’t really necessary either :/
– Doctor and Therapy appointments and medication

I tried super hard last month to a) avoid impulsive shopping, b) think through my purchases “do I need this, or do I want it?” And c) say no to myself. Sometimes I was more successful than others. I think I’m allowed some things I just “want” rather than need, but not everything. I am further trying to identify why I want things, and if I will genuinely use it and love it. Versus: I want this because I’m feeling sad…. I get emotional, I get bored, I’ve been Christmas shopping so I’ve been on websites which are advertising amazing sales and limited edition Christmas sets and it’s been hard. Especially the bit about the sales. This is a terrible time of year to try and restrict spending. Still, I only had one really impulsive purchase and another which was a bit questionable. I’m still spending too much on food, which sucks, because to address that would mean addressing my complicated disordered eating habits. :/

Some other things I have noticed last month: this one was very weird, but I realized I tend to be very weak when it comes to cotton clothing. As I’ve mentioned before I can’t wear most synthetic materials and my wardrobe is primarily cotton. I realized last month that sometimes I want to buy things just because they are cotton and I’m worried I’ll never have the chance to buy that item again in cotton. Which is crazy as there are only a few items where this worry would have a genuine basis (see: my work skirts. Another reason I got them both was because they were both cotton and finding nice thick cotton work appropriate skirts can be hard) Still, I have a whole wardrobe full of cotton so clearly, the situation is not so dire. Recognising this behaviour was embarrassing but also really great – I sent back one top I’d bought because I realized I was hoarding it for this reason (“it’s such a soft cotton I best hang on to it!”) and stopped myself from buying some others. It felt good to recognise this and stop myself from giving into it. I’m going to keep this in mind now when I’m shopping “am I buying this because I genuinely need it, genuinely want and love it and will use it, or just because I feel “I might as well because it’s cotton”?”

Another thing I do sometimes, especially with Amazon purchases, is pay more for fast delivery. Not only is this worse for the environment but it’s not necessary! I need to learn to wait for my items.

Finally I am a sucker for limited edition and sales. I need to remember that something being limited edition or on sale is not a reason in itself to buy it! For the cushion, I wanted it originally so it being on sale was just a bonus. For my Revolution order, I found myself impulsively buying things in the sale, cos I was emotional and sifting through the site out of boredom. There is a difference right?

I have been trying to do better in December but my progress both right now and last month are proving…. extremely slow. This is quite hard.

The One Without Any Spending

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.

Although….

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.

Now to-

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.