I have been inspired lately by Tracy’sblog. Tracy is going through tough times financially but bravely putting it out there to get herself going and I must say it’s very inspiring for me too.
I know my husband and I have it much better than a lot of people, but we are still chipping away at our home loan. We have plans to pay it off early and that is going well, but I feel like I’ve been a little complacent in other areas. I’m not a huge spender but still buy things here and there that aren’t really necessary and do contribute to our clutter.
I have no trouble keeping out of shops, and when I’m there for a specific reason (I rarely go to ‘just browse’ anymore because it’s too boring for words) I buy that item (having first waited until a time that it will be on special) and then leave.
Online shopping however is another story. I enjoy buying books, dvds and cosmetics from the comfort of my home and, well, it’s just too easy and I do it too often. Because all the purchases are on my credit card I can easily add them up with the click of an Excel formula. I was shocked at how much all those small amounts totalled over the past twelve months.
At the beginning of February Tracy started a No Spend Month, and I also read about a similar idea at Simple Savings. I was encouraged to start my own no spend month and there are already at least three occasions that I went to purchase something online and then remembered my promise to myself.
I left those items in the shopping cart and instead wrote them down in the first week of March of my diary. I wrote the item name, where it was from and the price.
I have occasionally been back to visit those items and one even had 10% off just for that weekend. The month of February crawled for me, realizing there was still more than two weeks to go before I could buy this item! As the month progressed though, I’ve found my wanting for these things has waned.
In New Zealand, if I cannot obtain something from a New Zealand etailer, I order from a US or UK store. A New Zealand order comes within a day or two, but when I wait 1-4 weeks for an order from afar, sometimes I have forgotten the appeal and when it turns up I don’t even want it that badly. Isn’t that terrible?
So even though it’s been a bit annoying at the time that I cannot just ‘click and buy’ but rather ‘click and then realise and then write it in my diary and then not buy’, I’m really pleased I did it.
My no-spend month has been so successful that I am considering making it an ongoing feature of my financial life, where I have to wait until one month’s time to buy something. So if I see a book I want on the 17th of February, I will write it in the week of 17th of March to see if I still want it. Some books I have purchased online I haven’t even opened yet, and we are talking several months! Gee, I really had to have that book didn’t I? It’s changed my life hasn’t it?
Fiction I have no problem getting out of the library and happily returning when read. Non-fiction on the other hand I seem to have given myself a ‘get out of jail free’ card. Because it’s non-fiction it’s serious and important stuff and I NEED it for my home library.
But what about that other, free, non-cluttering library, the one I pay for with my property rates? I can borrow a particular non-fiction book more than once, whenever I want to read it. And it’s only the newest books that have big queues, the ones I’m considering for my home library I can easily borrow pretty much straight away.
Now we are in the first week of March, I happily left two items unpurchased that I had written down. I did order one second-hand book from Abe Books (US10 including postage), so I think I did pretty well. None of the three items were big, but as I said before, all those rats and mice add up. Having participated in ‘No Spend February’ I reduced my expenditure – and clutter – by 2/3 and I'm happy with that.
I am definitely using the ‘one month out’ diary method for any future online purchases now. Do you use any tricks on yourself?