Save. Spend. Splurge.

Learning to Restrict Yourself to Appreciate Everything

I haven’t really been restricting myself on anything for a long time.

Is anyone surprised? You shouldn’t be.

Ever since I cleared my debt, I found saving money to be so much more difficult because there was no end goal in sight except some arbitrary number I created. $100K! $500K! A million!

But in the past few months, I started setting a random fun budget of $200 for anything not necessary or essential to my life.

Things like relaxing massages, clothing, eating out — this is all stuff I don’t need to do or buy, including new colours in makeup (I have so many and wear so little!), new skincare products that are for fun (I really don’t shop in this category), and anything I don’t need but want.

Things I do need and aren’t included aside from the usual suspects would include Physiotherapy, medication like cold pills, Little Bun books or things, dry cleaning and repairs, toiletries for my basic skincare (but not a new lipstick or shampoo), a new lid for my reusable cup, etc.

So the categories are pretty loose in my mind, but I know deep down inside if it is a Fun item or a Needed item, even if it happens to come from the same store like a drugstore.

There isn’t much I really need any more, if I am to be honest.

AND THE VERDICT ON RESTRICTIONS?

I am shocked, really.. that I ENJOY this $200 restriction.

I’m thinking of making it $250 to give myself a bit more room but even then, I’m hesitating because I made it work at $200 and started truly evaluating my purchases.

I only want $50 more because I’m really deriving pleasure from treating myself to a bagel sandwich here and there.

And I ENJOYED IT.

I started to make decisions on whether or not I “needed” an item. I’d study it, put it back. Think, study it again, and generally leave empty-handed.

I figured if I really needed it, I’d come back for it next time. 90% of the time? I’ve left it.

I FINALLY HAVE A CHALLENGING GOAL

For me, $200 is easily spent, and the challenging goal of not going over is strong for me because I really like to win, and winning at a game I set for myself is enticing.

$500 was too easy for me to stay under. It is very generous as a fun budget.

$200 is a challenge but I’ll ease it up to $225 for next month.

It will still be a challenge but not quite as tight as I’m including my massages for my back and knee as part of the Fun Budget and that eats up 50% immediately.

I could truly super cheat and call those massages Physiotherapy but I know I don’t NEED them like I am in pain and limping around. So I’d rather not cheat so outrageously.

What would be the point?

DELAYING THE INSTANT GRATIFICATION MAKES IT BETTER

This works because I’m not deciding now and in the moment to instantly buy and have it.

I’m delaying that addictive dopamine-fuelled rush to my brain because the anticipation of such a purchase if it is a good one is far more alluring than the actual purchase.

Think of when you save up and save up and dream of that item you’ve wanted.

Every dollar towards it builds up anticipation and when you finally get it, the satisfaction of getting it and owning it ends that build-up, but results in a much more pleasurable feeling than if you just got it the day you saw it.

I definitely felt that way with my car and to this day, I’m deriving great pleasure in driving it.

THE LUXURY TIME TO DECIDE IS KEY

I think not having time to make such thoughtful, deliberate decisions is why I used to just throw money at buying something and think about it later if I truly wanted it which .. never happened because I was so busy.

The stress of life also made me want to relieve it by shopping, and that’s something I’m still working on, but I’ve gotten so much better.

I’ve also been truly evaluating every piece that enters my home, and my closet, and thinking: Will I keep this or just resell it later?

Usually, it is the latter.

I have very rarely come across something where my heart stops and I think – I WANT.

I HAVE BEEN AVOIDING SHOPPING ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY

I don’t need more stuff.

Any shopping I’ve been doing is on store credits or non-cash credits with referrals that I can’t cash out anyway.

If those credits could be cashed, I’d take the cash and not buy anything, but as it stands, if I have $70 in referrals, I’ll buy something if I see something I want.

Going thrifting and so on is still fun but I always find something I want and at $10 it is hard to say no to anything, so I’ve just been avoiding that altogether for the most part.

I almost want to be able to work a little bit more if I get a contract so that I stay busier because busy workaholics don’t shop.

Idle minds and hands want to shop… often.

I HAVE CHEATED A LITTLE..HERE AND THERE

It is tough. I know you all know that.

I take pleasure in choosing which books I get for Little Bun which is a bit of a cheat because I love that I am buying something, taking the time to think about it, but it isn’t part of my Fun Budget.

I’ve also been cheating in getting / winning gift cards!

Okay so I only won 1 for $100 but still, that doesn’t count towards my fun budget, so I’m using that $100 judiciously and enjoying it.

And yes, I have just plain busted my damn budget because I stress eat. I went over by $10 in one month just a week before the month was over, and because my finances are not strained tight, I could, and I let myself.

In fact, I’ll likely increase my budget by $25 extra per month to give myself wiggle room, but I am so surprised at the results of restricting myself and more than likely, it comes from my mindset completely doing a 180 as well.

1 Comment

  • Gail

    I have evolved in the same direction probably around your age, too. Now, as a retired person, it is ideal: I have most of what I want, and I am busy being happy without shopping for the most part. I still like browsing and will always enjoy grocery stores even though I am not a big eater. A long time ago my husband asked what material things I would need to feel satisfied, and I recall saying I would want to be able to by any gifts I wanted to for kids, grandkids, others, without worrying about the cost. I want to be able to buy “good” food and cooking gear–love to cook as love language–and to live in a comfortable and convenient place (not fancy or to anyone else’s trendy standards). We have been there, and it works, along with what you describe about thinking before buying and delaying gratification. I was not this way as a teen or young adult.

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