As you probably read, last month I did no spend January. Of course this excluded things like groceries and household essentials, but I really wanted to focus on my spending habits around coffee, lunches, and shopping online. They say it takes 21 days to build a habit, so I felt like a one month goal would be good for starting and reinforcing the habit.
It was interesting that some things were really easy to give up, like my morning coffee, but some were a struggle, like not buying any new clothes online. I really started to see how so much of the spending was habit driven– when I wanted to get away from my desk at work, I would go buy coffee or lunch. When I was stressed, or bored, or having a bad day, I would buy something online to feel better. The hardest times to stick to the no spend rules was when I had those feelings that triggered me wanting to buy something.
Now that I have a better understanding of why I spend, I feel like I have better tools to not overspend moving forward! I want to be more intentional with what I’m buying so that when I buy something, it’s because I actually want and enjoy it.
I was worried about the upcoming month, because I wasn’t sure what my new “rules” should be. I feel like I’m an all or nothing person– it’s really easy for me to stick to any kind of diet, exercise, or spending plan as long as the rules are black and white. When it comes to giving myself permission for “just a little” is where I end up telling myself “treat yourself” 7 times a day.
I decided to frame new rules based on the no spend challenge. The first part of no spend was no Starbucks. This was a daily habit for me, but was actually really easy to give up. I started bringing a thermos with coffee from home and it was fine. I actually even cut back how much coffee I was drinking, and don’t even need to bring that second cup with my anymore. So the no daily coffee rule will stand! I will allow myself a Starbucks afternoon treat here and there as long as I’m using the free rewards that I have saved up.
For my work lunches, I want to goal myself to continue to pack lunch 4 days a week and allow one bought lunch a week. I was going to allow myself more bought lunches, but this one is a slippery slope for me, and I know I’ll end up bringing lunch and just buying it if I don’t stick to hard and fast rules.
For the online shopping, I wanted to give myself a little grace here. I work hard for my money and have no debt. I feel like I deserve to buy nice things here and there, just not everywhere. I decided to give myself $150 monthly as shopping money– this means home decor, makeup, or clothing. This budget allows me to still live, but not go overboard. The hardest part will be keeping track and not making excuses to buy more!
The biggest rules to keep in mind when transitioning from no spend to a budget are:
- Still have clear spending rules that keep things black and white.
- Know your weaknesses and ensure your rules set you up for success.
- Give yourself a little freedom so that you can stick to your budget long term.
I can’t wait to report back to let you know how the next month with my new budget rules has gone!