I love the PF blogosphere. The lifestyles documented by my frugal heroes are what have opened my eyes up to an alternate, more genuine, more free way of living. I have always been interested in personal finance (go figure, since I’ve been in debt since my first day of university!) and I’ve always known debt is bad and it must be paid ASAP, but it was the blogs themselves that pushed me forward beyond simply ‘knowing’ that debt is terrible and I must change my ways. They have inspired and shown me that life doesn’t need to be lived as a consumer, and have contributed insurmountably to my new money mindset and philosophy.
Declaration of love aside, I must admit that there is a tiny part of me that doesn’t feel connected with the PF blogosphere. I soak up all I can, and I believe in learning from those who have already been down the path I want to be on. I appreciate and admire those who have created plans and followed through on them.
However, I myself am not a successfully reformed frugalist just yet. I don’t have the utmost confidence in my frugality. I relapse. I get depressed. My lifestyle is not yet in a comfortable frugal groove where my friends and family around me acknowledge and respect my lifestyle choice, and where I have a rich treasure trove of frugal companions. I’m still the Desperado – I’ve exiled myself to the outskirts of the spendthrift consumerist lifestyle and most days I feel like I’m in the wilderness alone. I’m not yet at the lush, glorious oasis where I imagine my PF role models residing, and I’m trying to get as far removed from the consumerist core I’ve been trying to keep my back firmly turned away from. I’m still in limbo, en route a long journey in the barren badlands between consumer town and that rich oasis that’s still so far away in the distance.
I’d like to report that at 24 days in, Low Spend August has been a success thus far! I had alotted myself $100/week for ALL expenses (besides rent) – gas, water, electricity, groceries, household goods, and entertainment (ha!) – and so far, my highest weekly spend has been $76.00, and the lowest has been $34.00. I’ve even managed to buy a baby shower gift, bake a cake for a party I was invited to, and buy and send a couple of congratulations cards for friends who have recently become new parents (all of my friends are having babies these days. It’s like baby season around here) and stay well within my budget, with room to spare.
So how did I manage to achieve this when I’ve been Captain Spendypants for most of my adult life? Although I’ve been working random side gigs for years – promotions (I’ve been a Bud Girl, snack pack hander-outer, one of the people who rides around in the Starbucks van and blitzkriegs summer events with trays of little mochaccinos, etc) random day worker shifts at city festivals, and focus group attendee for ages, but none of those completely random gigs has made me frugal. Until now. Enter: FD, the Bike Messenger.
I came across an ad on a telephone pole (the source for all life-changing careers, of course) for a bike messenger while I was – wait for it – out on my bike. I love cycling almost more than anything else in the world (next to traveling, and cheese – not exactly in that order). I decided to call in, and was told after 15 rides I would make a 100 dollar bonus. Well, if something was going to entice me to sign up, this was it. Fast forward 3 weeks to the day, and I have made 44 deliveries thus far, and I can’t wait for more.
Before anyone starts asking if I would like some cheese with my w(h)ine, I want to chronicle some positively charged thoughts on how I plan to annihilate all this debt.
To the naked eye, I’m actually one of those high-energy people that’s always cheerful and enthusiastic. The debt struggle is something that lays beneath and only gets shared on platforms I’ve learned are the most accepting of my struggling side, my not-so-sunshine-and-rainbows side. So I’m here to pause the grey clouds for a minute and share a baby step that I’m really excited about!
It’s nothing new or earth-shattering, but I’m ready to re-start a plan. I tried my 160 Days of Nothing New when I started the blog and it didn’t pan out. I’ve obviously spiralled out of control and with it got caught in a downward spiral of emotions, but I’m ready to start a new challenge.
It’s August 1st today and a civic holiday here in Ontario, which I think is a great time to stop and reflect about how I am going to embark on a Low Spend August! As I mentioned, nothing earth-shattering about this plan, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been confident enough in my self-control that I can embark on a goal and not fail epically in the first few days, and I’m very excited to get started.
I’ve fell of the wagon.
I’m floundering in a really dark hole of shame, guilt, and debt.
I maintain that the claims of psychologists that shopping addiction (oniomania) is a real behavioural condition/addiction, and the highs and lows cycle of staying “sober” and then any following relapses cause very real emotional anguish. It is a bona fide addiction, through and through.
I know that shopping addiction comes down to deeper unresolved issues we have inside ourselves. However those take time to work through, and while we go through the healing process it takes a huge amount of good old-fashioned self-discipline to say no to spending money. I will not resolve the deeper issues by tomorrow, but until then I need to wake up every day and tell myself my wallet is closed.
No no, not literally on a roller coaster (those photos they take of you right after the biggest loop are always ghastly, aren’t they?) but my financial life and progress lately. “Roller coaster” is actually good, very good – I’ve been in a slump of stagnant valleys this past year so having some intermittent peaks lately means things have been looking up!
I was tempted to start a post yesterday called something along the lines of “recovery stage” or “I’m officially on my way” or something else entirely optimistic. I had worked a few side gigs the past few weekends for cash, sold some clothing and books and resisted spending temptation better than I ever have before. I was able to get at least $500 bucks in cash from my hustling into the bank and have it stay there. I was elated. I was over the moon. I said no to invitations to spendy social events and deleted sale notification emails with finesse. I really thought to myself, hot damn, I’m killing it! I am spendaholic no longer!
In my quest to shake off my addiction to spending money, I’ve been doing my best to analyze my triggers and patterns that result in spending. There’s definitely a correlation between not being as organized as I’d like to be and how much money I spend. No, it’s not the sole reason or even the lion’s share, but I can confidently say money gets frittered due to my struggles with being organized with my time and my space.
I’ve been an epic failure this month. Just epic. To the point of breaking my own heart over how I’ve completely undone my debt advances and plunging myself into further worry and panic. I am $2,282.53 poorer than my last debt update, bringing my grand debt total back up to $63,006.53. At my initial post right around New Year this year I was at $63,270.00. So in 3 months, I’ve only managed to reduce my debt by about a measly $200. This was after about 7 paychecks and a year-end bonus in 2016 so far, which I managed to completely blow besides $200. I come to confess with a lump in my throat and tears down my cheeks.
I decided to name it my bi-weekly report this post seeing that seems to be my frequency in posting these! I’m debating moving to a monthly budget for March – I’ll see as I go. It’s all about what I feel keeps me the most motivated.
I wanted to post an update on my debt situation since starting this blog and putting in an active effort to change my spendy lifestyle. One of my first posts, written on December 30, 2015 included my original debt tally and I’m here to post the progress made since the beginning of the year.
I have debt fatigue.
I don’t know if 34 day burnout is a thing, but I have it. I know it’s ludicrous and it’s only been 34 days but I’m someone that has spent the last 10 years buying something new almost every single day, whether it’s a chocolate bar or a new dress. When people invited me out for drinks, the only time I would say no is if I’m already out having other drink plans I committed to first. I’m not one for saying no. And the last 34 days have been a world of No. And I hate to say it, but I’m tired.