My money habits are atrocious. In high school, I was a diligent saver, taking half of every paycheck and tucking it away into a savings account that I never touched. Fast forward two years into college and, on the precipice of turning 20, I spend my money faster than my wallet can keep up with. This year, I’ve barely gone a day without at least buying a coffee and, while my closet is bursting with fabulous new clothes, the number in my savings account dwindles daily (despite working 20+ hours a week slinging coffee).
December seemed like the perfect time to put the brakes on my wild shopping habits. For this whole month, I’ve decided not to spend any money except on 1. Christmas gifts for friends/family, 2. an almond milk latte on Wednesdays (when they’re only $2), and 3. absolute essentials (which, for a girl still living in the dorms/on a meal plan, should be very minimal). Taking the money I would have spent frivolously on myself and devoting it to getting amazing treats for my loved ones has already been so rewarding. I live for finding that perfect gift for someone (and have a habit of going overboard with presents) so this month I don’t have to feel quite as guilty about blowing my gift budget.
Most of my mindless spending goes to food. I would much rather be cooking for myself than stuck on my school’s dining plan, so I tend to eat out at least once a day instead of settling for the quasi-edible school food. My taste buds are happy, but it’s taking a serious chunk out of my paycheck each month. It’s really hard to fight bad food options, but I only have to hang around campus for two more weeks until I’m home for the holidays. My appetite can take the hit.
I’m also curious to see what (if any) deeper issues are triggering me to swipe my credit card. I’ve already noticed that I do most of my online shopping when I’m stressed out or feeling unproductive; it’s almost as if my brain tricks me into thinking that acquiring a new thing is the same as getting something productive done. Newsflash: it’s not. I’m also guilty of major “social spending”, as nearly every plan I suggest to friends involves some kind of money being exchanged. This month, I’m going to focus on free social plans, like hopping on a train downtown to visit museums or taking snowy drives around my neighborhood to see everyone’s decorations.
I know this was somewhat of a rambly post, but money has really been on my mind lately as I save for my apartment next year and take care of my kitten. There are infinitely more important things in life than good food and cute dresses, and I have to remember that just because I’m capable of spending money doesn’t mean I need to. I also realize that being able to do a “no spend December” is a privileged position to be in, as I have only a few bills I’m required to pay monthly and no major financial obligations right now. Hopefully, the lesson will carry forward into the future, when I do have to juggle more bills.
If any of you feel like your credit card is currently leaving a smoking hole in your wallet, I invite you to join me in $0 frivolous spending this month! Obviously, adapt the challenge to fit your lifestyle, but I think it’s a great way to reset your perspective on money.