I’m Not Spending Money This Month and Here’s What I’ve Learned

This post was written by contributor Chelsea Becker

Chalk it up to a pandemic-induced year of overbuying, but going into 2022, I found myself with more *stuff* than ever. This is coming from a ‘minimalist’ who preaches she only buys things she loves. Which used to be the case, but with boredom from isolation and things like Amazon Prime at my fingertips, I developed out-of-control shopping habits. Did I really need five versions of a body brush? No. Did I really need three plaid jackets when I barely left my house? Definitely not, but I had them.

So here’s what I did about it: I dedicated the month of January to not spending a dime. Well, I should clarify…not spending a dime on anything but the essentials like groceries. I also went through my bank statements to see any lingering costs I could cut, like my Sirius XM since I hardly drive, my CBD subscription which I’m not consistent with, my dog’s pet insurance which I didn’t even realize we had, and so on.

And then when it came to spending, I haven’t made a single Amazon purchase other than tampons (essential!). I’ve gotta admit, it’s been a hard habit for me to break but it feels soooooo damn good!

Other than it obviously giving me more money in my pocket, here are the other perks I’ve noticed in the past 20 days:

1. I feel more environmentally friendly. As someone who thinks she’s doing her part to help the environment by doing the basics: using reusable everything from straws to produce bags, walking over driving when possible, and those types of things, my shopping addiction was anything but helpful to our planet. I’m not here to shame anyone but when I sat back and thought about my Amazon packages having to make their way to my house almost every day AND the packaging (not including environmental return costs!), it made me mad at myself. I feel better doing a small part in reducing my footprint.

2. It’s helped me break my spending habit. The first two weeks of the month, I found myself ‘adding to cart’ literally anything I liked on Instagram, just as I had been doing since making a decent income as an adult. Did I even love what I was adding to my cart? Not all the time. Did I actually need it? Definitely not. With this practice, I’ve noticed how bad my autopilot spending habit had gotten and it was like a huge (welcomed) slap in the face.

Moving forward, I plan to screenshot items that I want. If I still love or really feel like I need that item two weeks later, I’ll get it. But the chances are my lust for the item will have passed since I’ve already tested this out this month.

3. I have less return stress. Does anyone else get stressed out with the whole return process?! I mean, it’s literally a process. Making a pile of what I don’t actually want to keep, printing or setting up the return codes, getting the packages ready to return, going to UPS…or FedEx…or the post office, or all three, and taking time out of my workday to do so. My return pile made me feel anxious each time I entered our laundry room (where I keep returns) and since that pile has been non-existent since January 1st, I’ve felt major relief.

I’m sure I’ll have to remind myself of the rule I’ve set for myself around screenshotting items before buying as the year goes, but for now, this practice feels amazing. I’m also going back into the BIA archives to read Geri’s article questioning ‘does it spark joy?’ because I once was a girl who followed that rule.

Anyone else finding themselves spending on auto-pilot? What’s helped you cut back?

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