Well…I did it…I went an entire month without making a non-essential purchase. It wasn’t easy…there were actually quite a few things that I wanted to buy. But I stuck to my goal and I made it through the month.
I ended up spending more money than I thought I would. At the beginning of the month, I’d kind of assumed I would only spend money on gas and groceries. Anything else, I’d decided, was not essential. Turns out I was wrong.
One of the things I’d originally decided was an absolute indulgence and was off-limits this month was taking a taxi from the train station to the office. There was no reason that I couldn’t walk or take the subway. That is…until I got sick and had to drag myself to work anyway. On those days when I probably should have been in bed, I gave myself the present of a ride the 15 blocks to the office. Totally worth it.
I also ended up driving to work a few times…twice because I had to go out after work and it didn’t make sense to go home first. Another day I was just too sick to get onto the train.
There were also a few other things…like the crazy expensive fruit from the deli. I don’t know what kind of voodoo magic they are working at the deli, but the fruit is super sweet and delicious and far superior to what I was getting at the grocery store. So I spent the extra money on it. Then there were the scones…the amazingly fresh and delicious scones from Alice’s Tea Cup that had been calling to me for weeks. I treated my coworkers to breakfast last Friday and those scones were possibly the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. I bought a few books…but with two hours of commuting each day, books are a necessity.
And, of course, there were the lottery tickets. It was a record-breaking jackpot…I couldn’t not take a shot. I won $2…which is not the same as winning $640 million…but at least it wasn’t a total loss.
The thing is…there were a bunch of things I didn’t buy. The dress I saw that was cute, but totally not practical. The somewhat expensive desk I liked to replace the perfectly functional desk in my craft room. The gorgeous Marc Jacobs bag that I spent a week staring at online. I also didn’t set foot inside a Target, Michael’s or Christmas Tree Shop…my top three favorite places to buy all the things I never even knew I needed. I swear…I walk into those places and it’s like the money just gets sucked right out of my wallet.
It was a really good lesson for me. By forcing myself not to shop, I took a second look at the things I had around the house. I got to cross a lot of things off my to-do list with all the extra time I had. If I wanted to do a project, I used what I had on hand…which forced me to be more creative. Making dinner was also interesting because instead of running out for fast food or takeout, I used what I had in the fridge…and I definitely threw out less spoiled food because of it. And stopping to think before making a purchase made me realize that the dress was something I’d never wear and with a few slight modifications my desk will be perfect for what I need.
It also made me realize that not all purchases are bad and it’s ok to splurge on myself. So I’m still contemplating that new bag. I don’t really need a new bag…but it’s just so pretty.
This was a great experiment for me and I think it has really changed the way I look at spending money and buying new things. I’m not sure I will go back to mindless spending. I see a future filled with less impulse buys and less buyer’s remorse.