I know, I know. I'm a planner sticker shop owner telling you that no spends don't work. Why would you listen to me? Obviously I don't want you on a no spend because then you won't buy stuff.
But seriously, in the many years of overspending (seriously, I can shop until I flat out drop or my credit card breaks--whichever comes first), I have come to accept that no spends just do not work.
THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL OF A NO SPEND
Think about it. You realize you've been hitting that "buy now" button way too often so you tell yourself "I'm going to go on a no spend for all of August"
So then on July 31st, you have to rush and grab those things you might need in August, because after all, you're on a no spend.
Then the first week you feel great. You got this, baby. You won't spend any money this month and you will be flat out rolling in it by the time August 31st rolls around.
Then the second week hits and you're like "eh, it's just ONE small kit. I need it because it's limited edition and that show is premiering and I really want THIS kit to use that week." So you buy it.
Then you go down a shame spiral and August 15th rolls around and you're like "Okay, I got this. It's the 2nd half of the month! It's all downhill from here!"
WHEN THE NO SPEND IS OVER
Then Sept 1st rolls around and oh my god, you are off that no spend! You can finally buy all those cute things! Maybe in the last month, you've decided to switch planners so you go buy that planner but then you need new stickers and new inserts and new charms and paperclips and....
Yeah, whoops. No spend for the rest of September. And October too because you really did some damage and need to punish yourself.
Does this sound like you? Yeah, I've been there too.
Here's why this doesn't work--think of it like a fad diet. Those crash diets that you go on to lose those extra pounds and then you binge on all the junk food the second you can because oh my god you just need to.
HOW TO SPEND THE RIGHT WAY
You do the same thing with spending. Here's what to do instead.
Understand that there is no point in depriving yourself of all joy in life and there is nothing wrong with spending money on your hobbies.
Do you need to go overboard? No, definitely not. Do you need to impulse buy? No, not at all.
Instead of saying the past is the past and you'll just no spend tomorrow to fix the mistakes/regret buys of today, take a second and go look at all the purchases you've made on your hobbies in the past month.
Go on. It's okay. I'm here to hold your hand.
Now total it all up. If you're totally a budget goddess, that number might not be so bad. If you're an overspender like me, your stomach may have just dropped and you might be breaking out in cold sweats.
HOW TO BUDGET FOR YOUR HOBBIES
Now here's what you're going to do. You're going to take a deep breath and LEARN from those mistakes. Decide a set amount of money you want to spend on your hobbies each month. Got it?
Now, every time you spend on those hobbies, write it down. I recommend using a checkbook register, spreadsheet, or hey, what about a spending tracker, (come on, I had to plug myself just once).
Here's what I spend money on each month:
- P=Planner Stuff
- C=Clothes (the nonessential clothes that I'm just buying because--not actual necessities)
- H=Unnecessary Home stuff (you know, like my crystals that I have to pick up if I walk into a TJ Maxx or homegoods)
- M=Miscellaneous (for me, this is usually dinner with friends or starbucks or whatever)
Everytime I spend in these categories, I write it down and keep a running total. Once I hit my threshold for the month, it's time to stop.
This works because I know my budgeted number. Every single time I go to hit that "buy now" button, I ask myself "is it REALLY worth it this month?" Sometimes the answer is yes and sometimes it's not.
Not gonna lie, this was hard at first but I've been doing this consistently for about a year now and I can definitely tell you that my personal spending has done a complete 180 in that time. I used to spend all the time and honestly, feel kind of like shit afterwards. Now, when I spend money, I know that it's okay. It's part of the budget and I can truly appreciate whatever it was I bought because I chose that item over the other stuff I could have bought.
I'll also admit that I do slip off sometimes. Usually on those super-spendy weekends, I'll ignore my spending tracker and not write stuff down. It's almost like if I hide the sheet from myself, it didn't happen. Eventually though, I always face the music and feel it out.
The best part? Since my budget resets every month, I can really get a clean slate each time and just keep trying to be better. Now, when I do feel super spendy I can even sometimes ask myself what is REALLY going on and kind of do a mental check in. Am I wanting to buy a bunch of stuff because it's my hobby that I love or am I buying a bunch of stuff because my anxiety is really through the roof and the rush of retail therapy will make me feel better for a bit?