January 31, 2014


Hi there! Can you believe it's the last day of January already?
What is this weird time capsule I am in all the time, that turns days into hours and hours into

I did this awesome thing in January. Believe it or not, I needed a break from the retail industry. I couldn't quit my job though (you don't say haha), so I eased the pain by putting a spending ban on myself. And by spending ban I mean a REAL spending ban. While I didn't allow myself to buy any luxury items such as clothing or shoes, accessories, home ware and the whole she-bang, I also wasn't allowed to buy take away food, coffees, smoothies or juices, bottled water or lunch and so on.
Pretty strict you say? Well let me explain.

I used to love the weeks leading up to Christmas, but working in retail just makes it this stressful and pressure fueled time, in which I work myself to the ground, while feeling incredibly guilty about not being able to be with my family overseas or the family I have here. In a nutshell, the month of December for me is: artificial light, recycled air, millions of phone calls that make my ears go red, too much of this bullshit phenomenon that is multitasking, sales, Sales, SALES. It definitely doesn't stand for calm, introversion, reflection, gratitude or simply time.

When I'm under pressure, I display the strangest behavioral patterns. I either crave sugar, want to destroy shit, or I want to give other people my money in exchange for things I don't need. So imagine these three behavioral patterns spread over the length of at least one month and the damage these do to my figure, wallet and mental health.

This kind of unflattering leopard skirt is the most recent clothes purchase I made, on 26th December. I didn't try it on. Mistake.
I knew I needed to go cold turkey in order to shut down these stress-management processes I subconsciously put into place.
I wanted to regain control over my finances most of all, so a shopping ban was the obvious thing to do. Don't get me wrong, I never had any debt in my life, but I feel extremely uneasy about digging into my savings at the end of my pay period, just to get the groceries. Wanting to kick my sugar habit perfectly aligned with the spending restrictions I put into place, which resulted in me packing my lunches myself, doing the necessary food prep in advance and therefore saving extra dollars by not wasting groceries. Needless to say I save a HUGE amount of unnecessary calories. That's a bonus on the side if you're a lazy ass like me who doesn't work out for health reasons, but drags herself to the gym with one simple goal only: To look good naked.

There were a few hurdles I faced, especially in the first and last week of January, so I did up a little weekly recap for all you fellow over-spenders and over-eaters out there.

My 11 am and 3 pm coffee habits are the hardest to kill off. I keep myself in line by thinking of the $ 10 and whatever amount of calories I save per day by not making that trip to the next cafe. I start bringing a travel mug and tea bags to work, but never actually feel a craving for a hot drink in the first place. Major body and mind trickery is in place here.
Packing my lunch means getting up 10 minutes earlier than usual. The first few days are a pain, but I get into the swing of things pretty quickly. I actually look forward to lunch and my delicious salads, pasta dishes and homemade protein muffins. I start using my filter bottle for water, which increases my water intake by about one liter per day. I avoid any and all clothes shops altogether, not even catching glimpses of shop windows.
Total savings for the week: $ 170 (holy shit, I know. All this money spent on commodities in the past. I hate myself a little looking at that sum.)

Not shying away from spending the $$$ on this idiot.
The lunch packing process has become natural to me by Week 2. I plan my grocery lists better and cook up big batches of food, then freeze them. Because I am a crazy dog parent, I pay $ 160 for a dog chiropractor consult and have the puppy's back aligned. I also throw $ 80 at a health food sales assistant for Spirulina and fish oil, because the chiropractor says the puppy would benefit from them. (She didn't mention Spirulina tastes like butt.) Let me tell you this: My puppy IS a lot happier, but I also didn't get to save any money this week. MAJOR bonus though: I didn't have to dig into my savings to pay for these unplanned expenses, as I would have any other week. I also start having quick looks into competitor's shops and dare a few glimpses at shop windows of my favorite clothes shops, to discover that I am, indeed, "FINE just looking".
Total savings for the week: $ 0

totally worth it tough!
Again puppy expenses left right and centre: A new dog bed weighs in at $ 35, real meat treats at $ 40. Fortunately the fridge is stocked and I have become even better at lunch and dinner prep. The husband and I treat ourselves to a Sushi platter just because, so there it is, my first offense, followed by another two take away instances (because hungover and stuff). Not a good week all in all, but I still manage to save money and stick to my spending ban in all other areas but the sneaky take away department.
Total savings for the week: $ 50

I find myself in a frenzied state inside a "Lovisa" store, trying on decadent necklaces and realizing I could easily drop hundreds of dollars right then and there on necklaces that are way too impractical to wear (getting punched in the face by chunky jewellery much?). A nice chat to the sales assistant calms me down and I reassure myself that once I choose ONE out of these six or so potential new closet tenants online, I can come back in February to buy it. I also have an epiphany that my work wardrobe needs a massive overhaul, but decide on one particular outfit I want to invest in in February (which I will feature in a future post!). I'm still lunch packing, and to my surprise my coffee cravings have disappeared. I hardly notice if I forget my morning cup of the death broth, whereas a month ago it would have taken lightning out of Satan's arse to wake me up without my standard morning coffee. My usual 3 pm sugar cravings are diminishing. Instead of crappy stuff I eat fruit and maintain semi-abs I last worked on about a fortnight ago. Again I spend money on the puppy. This time it's toys worth $ 45 that last around 2 hrs and 15 minutes before I collect them all in bits off the floor and place them in the rubbish. I am sick and cancel personal training, which saves me $ 50 (that I will use for my extra session next week, of course!).
Total savings for the week: $ 175

SO, do you see a pattern here? I completely avoided walking into shops, because I knew I couldn't trust myself (which was perfectly put on display during my almost relapse at a fashion jewellery store out of all stores!!!). I packed my lunch and even if I craved a fucking burrito, I still ate that salad knowing I couldn't let it go to waste because MONEYS. I still went out to social events, had a few drinks and ate greasy fast food a hand full of times because, hey, a gal's gotta live! But I tuned down this urge for consuming and spending from a massive loud voice in my head to a tiny little whisper whose trigger I can now identify and manage. I won't be that person who NEVER buys new clothes again, but I won't buy anything unless I have tried it on properly, have gone home and can't stop thinking about it for at least 48 hrs. I won't starve myself if I forget my lunch, but I won't get back into that old habit of not bothering to pack my lunch or buying coffees because I am bored or thirsty or both. And I won't get back into buying sugary snacks full stop. Pretty sure they eat your brain.

So you're thinking about doing this or a similar challenge, but are riddled with self-doubt like every other twenty-something with internet and social media access on this planet? Let me tell you this:
I work in at least two different shopping centers every day, walk past duty free airport shops twice a week, I have the biggest sweet tooth and a massive 3 pm blood sugar drop, haven't been known for my will power (hello muffin top), have massive FOMO attacks and I still kicked this challenge's ass. Give it a shot, if nothing else your savings account will thank you and you can blow it all on a concert ticket or domestic flight or micro vacation at the end of the month!
Living smart doesn't exclude living HAAARRRDDD y'all. *drops motivational speaker mic*