Shopping: Why I quit cold turkey.

April 26, 2013

2013-04-26 10.20.21

At the end of the month, quarter or year do you wonder where all your money went?

I thought I knew exactly where every dollar was spent. I’m a budgeting machine. As a natural spender I’ve had my eye and mind on money for years as to not let said spending get out of hand. So I was shocked (SHOCKED) when I looked at the handy-dandy yearly review that we get for each credit card. It broke down our spending into categories then listed each purchase within that category for all of 2012. All I can say is yikes!

I was super disappointed by what I saw. Especially as a budget conscious person. I didn’t buy my first song on iTunes until September of last year, because I knew those $.99 purchases are what get ya. That means for 4 years of college and 3 years of owning an iPhone I had never bought a song. Now not only was I buying a plethora of songs on iTunes I was making too many trips to that delicious Caribou Coffee.

Here’s the real kicker. Seeing that report wasn’t enough for me to change my ways. It took the report (seen in January) + sorting through the basement + sorting out my closet and jewelry + some major life events for me to finally (in APRIL!) realize the full extent of the issue and take action.

This is what I’ve concluded.

I have more than enough….of EVERYTHING!

Also, budgets are great in theory, but tough to implement in day-to-day life. Therefore it’s important to analyze your spending trends and address the real issue. I spend the most on iTunes music, eBooks, coffee and clothes. So instead of trying to make cuts across the board I need to target my core areas. I don’t need to limit movies, eating out and groceries because they are not the problem.

Thus came my declaration.

For the month of April I will quit spending any money on the four core areas.
-Nothing, nada, zilch.
I was convicted and confident. The very next day after my declaration I went to spin class and fell in love with four songs. I took down the names and artists with the full intention of going home and downloading them. In the car on the way home I had this conversation with myself.

I’ll just download these four songs. What’s $4? I’m still going to stop spending.”

“NO Katie! NO! This is where you need to prove you’re serious. $4 is $4 too many. Absolutely not.”

“Ok fine Katie. You’re right.”

It was at that moment that I knew I had finally changed. And it hasn’t actually been that hard since. The funny thing is once I gave myself permission to stop spending I didn’t even want those things anymore. I must say I’m pretty proud of myself. This is a big deal to me. Half way through the month I thought,

This is easy. I’ll extend this challenge through May. Heck why not June too? Why not the whole summer? FOREVER!
But truthfully I’m going to take it one day at a time. I’ve seen the light. I don’t want to spend on silly things that I already have an abundance of. I want to save for those experiences that are rare and worth saving for.

Honestly, for the first time in my life I feel free. Free of the burden of being a spender, always wanting more, never having enough. I look around and I see the abundance.

I think this is going to be good. Really good.

Can you relate? Do you have a guilty pleasure that you maybe spend a little too much on? Today think ofย one way you can tangibly stay on top of your spending.



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Steffani April 27, 2013 at 8:05 pm

This is wonderful! I’m having a purging moment that has been on my mind for so long and am so happy to just have less stuff. Now I really need to stop buying stuff as well to now fill in all the space I have! I love love love Target and always find a reason to go there, but recently I’ve been limiting myself to going once a month because I really only need stuff like dog food, TP, etc. And by etc I mean clothes, sheets, bedding, new workout clothes, and everything I don’t need. I’m pretty sure the only things I ever need are dog food and TP! So next month I’ll try and remember this post and remind myself I don’t need anything! That or send my husband instead haha Anyways, great post!

Katie April 29, 2013 at 8:42 am

Target is tough one, because the store is designed to entice you to grab a few extra things. It’s so amazing how little we actually need when it comes down to pure necessity. What a great challenge for you to only buy dog food and TP. Keep me posted on how that goes. I’d love to hear if you have any new discoveries after a months time.

Mathilda April 28, 2013 at 1:58 am

Oh yes, I can relate! 10 days ago I started my own shopping sabbatical but unfortunately I’m desperately feeling like shopping. It is so embarassing to see how much addicted I am to shopping clothes. So I’m browsing the web to find every single page that’s related to the idea to stop shopping and start living. I guess I will try this little conversation you had with yourself. Maybe (hopefully) it’ll help me too. Thanks for this post!

Katie April 29, 2013 at 8:43 am

It is a hard thing to stop after so many years. I think it’s important for you to ask yourself what shopping fulfills in you. Maybe there is something missing in your life that you are using shopping to fill. Keep with it. Keep searching and growing. I know it will work out for you. And talking to yourself always helps. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Good luck Mathilda!

Kristen April 28, 2013 at 12:49 pm

I did this in March! No discretionary spending on pretty much ANYTHING! I did got out for drink and dinner with friends a few time but no online shopping and no throwing extra stuff into my cart at Target. I told Andrew he had to do it too and the funny this is – it was harder for him to not spend for a whole month than it was for me!!! I’m totally with you on the clothes struggle…I’m trying to find a balance since I work in a professional setting and need nice’ish things. It did feel great to get rid of two garbage bags full of clothes recently though ๐Ÿ˜‰

Katie April 29, 2013 at 8:45 am

Haha! That’s so awesome that Andrew is getting in on it too. I didn’t limit my restaurant spending. I only took things out that didn’t add significant value to my life. Going out to eat is a huge part of my life and I really enjoy it. So it stays. Clothes and iTunes? Out they go. As for the clothes struggle. What really helped me was to reorganize my closets and try to put new outfits together. All of a sudden I felt like I had new clothes and new things to wear.

Gaz April 28, 2013 at 9:58 pm

This is brilliant Katie. I actually have a 3×5 card in my wallet that has written on it “do I really NEED this”. Of course it helps to read it when holding an imminent purchase but have to say the words to come to mind when presented with the temptation. Thank you.

Katie April 29, 2013 at 8:49 am

That is such a great idea! Maybe you should wrap the card or a sticky note around your credit card. Saying the words out loud always helps. For me it was a matter of actually following through on putting down just one purchase. Once it did that I knew I was strong enough to resist others. Secondly, I had to just not go to the store. Keeping myself away from temptation is key. I went shopping with my husband for work clothes this weekend and I kept my back to the women’s section the entire time. Stay strong!

Christine April 29, 2013 at 8:20 am

I’ve been working up to this also. It’s harder to do when I have two kids and their wonky, growth-spurty needs, but I can definitely control what I buy for me โ€” and those random things I keep tossing into my Target cart as we roll around in fits of whimsy.

Last year, I didn’t buy clothes for me. Half the time I was pregnant and not in the mood to shop. But as soon as I stopped shopping, something I always did for fun as much as for the result, I didn’t miss it either. Saved soooo much.

Katie April 29, 2013 at 8:50 am

Kids and Target make it tough to cut the spending. You’ll just have to evaluate your own life and needs to see where you can limit the shopping. I am always amazed at the power I give things. Almost every time I give something up I don’t miss it afterwards. Now it feels like a game to see how much I can do without. The savings is an added bonus for sure.

Alicia July 20, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Stopping by from Yes and Yes. So glad to have found your blog!

You make such an excellent point about not bothering to cut “non-problem” areas. It sounds so simple, but it’s something that’s never come to light when I make my own budgets! I’m always trying to figure out ways to cut every category at least a little bit. Scrimping and saving in every category probably takes attention and willpower away from those important categories where greater effort could actually benefit.

Katie July 22, 2013 at 11:25 am

Welcome Alicia! I’m so glad you stopped by. I used to do the same thing when it came to budgeting. Only to find it was never sustainable and I always felt bad about every purchase. Now that I’m only focusing on my problem areas things have gotten a lot easier. Give it a try!

Andi of My Beautiful Adventures July 21, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Starbucks! Gets me EVERY day!!!

Katie July 22, 2013 at 11:26 am

I can totally relate. Maybe try cutting back to 3 days a week.

break up and September 17, 2013 at 4:19 am

Can I simply just say what a comfort to discover a person that truly understands what they’re discussing on the
net. You actually understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important.
More and more people really need to check this out
and understand this side of your story. I can’t believe
you’re not more popular because you certainly possess the gift.

Annie Kip April 16, 2015 at 2:36 pm

Hi Katie,
I can TOTALLY relate – and I really admire your dedication and conviction. It is so hard not to mindlessly spend. I do it because I am busy and it is easier to get take-out than to shop and cook. This gives me lots of inspiration to make changes!!!

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