I have officially made it through a month of no spending, and it feels so good! This month helped me become aware of my own patterns of thinking about spending and has brought some interesting habits to the surface for me to address. So let’s get into it.
Shopping is a compulsion for me. I do it out of habit, and boredom. This month when I took a step back and looked at my urges to shop and buy, I realized that those thoughts were breed out of boredom or outside influences, not need or my own true desires. On top of that I learned that once I begin shopping and buying I find it difficult to stop. This leads to big splurge days, and an accumulation of things that I don’t need. It is like I believe that by buying things quickly in one spree that I won’t notice how much money I am spending and I won’t regret the purchases I make. But that is not true. This happened once this month. A week ago, I needed to buy food. This alone was an okay purchase. I needed to eat and I didn’t plan for that need so I didn’t have snacks with me. After this purchase, however, I started slipping into that negative thought pattern of “needing” to purchase more. It was an interesting phenomena. Now that I know this is a pattern of mine, I will be able to recognize it in the future and continue to work on it.
I came to the realization this month that I often spend money with the belief that I need to in order to fit in with the people I am around. I also realized this month that this is not true. I can go to the store with someone and not buy anything. As long as I am being an active participant in the day, the conversation, and having a good time, it doesn’t matter if I buy anything or not.
I am a sucker for packaging and well-designed advertisements… They pull me in and it is difficult to get away from the feeling of needing the product. This month I have learned to combat this by doing research. When I found myself getting sucked into a brand or product, I researched their motives for selling this product, the authenticity of their claims, and mostly, the ingredients or process of creation of the product. For most things, the information that I found was enough to turn me away. For other things, I found out some really positive things about companies and products that they offer. The time I spent researching, though, gave me enough separation from the urge to buy that I was able to say to myself, “okay, this is a really great product made by a really great company. I will keep this in mind for when I actually need it.” So now I have a list in my phone of companies that I should buy from and products I should replace things I already have with when they are finished.
Difference Between Need and Want
This is a lesson that everyone’s parents try to teach them, but it is a difficult one to grasp. I have developed and maintained a possibly unpopular opinion on this lesson. I think that sometimes you need to buy things that you don’t need simply because you want them. Even after this challenge I hold this stance. No one needs fancy hair products, but they are a great investment in self-care. No one needs a Himalayan salt lamp, but they add a little something to your life. No one needs a yoga mat, but it makes your practice more comfortable. Get what I mean? There is no fun in always denying yourself the things you want.
While I learned a lot from this challenge, and I have found aspects of my spending patterns that I will work on, I don’t believe that it is always a good idea to stay away from non-essential spending. I work hard for the money that I make. If I use it wisely, and cut back on my compulsive purchases there is no reason I can’t spend responsibly while also spending on the occasional thing I don’t need.
I would still recommend this challenge to anyone who wants to learn more about the way that they think about money and to get a really clear perspective of how much unnecessary things they actually buy or want to buy in a month. If you do try this challenge, let me know how it goes for you. As for me, I am going to order some new eco-friendly, natural makeup from a brand that I researched this month to treat myself and replace what I used up this month!