{ spending hiatus }

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I posted last week about joining in on Aimee at Mostly Mod's remainder of 2009 spending hiatus and got lots of great comments and emails with more questions about it...so I will attempt to explain my personal motivation and answer some of your questions about it. I can say that my motivation in doing this is really getting a grip on the non-essential spending that happens in our household (and by that I mean by ME). As you ALL know, it is really easy to drop $100 in Target and later try to recall what exactly you bought... We are very fortunate that we own our own businesses and aren't at risk of being laid off during this recession, but we seriously need to be better about not buying STUFF we don't NEED.

So for ME, this spending hiatus is about spending SMART. This isn't about deprivation. This is about plugging my leaks of wasteful spending and using our money for specific purposes, rather than by habit or accident. We are attempting to save money by spending only on things that we really care about and plan to buy for a specific purpose. The bottom line with this spending hiatus for me is to spend less money on things I don't care much about so I can spend on things I do care about (eg. traveling). We want to spend our discretionary money on doing rather than owning. Because in the end, positive life experiences contribute to happiness more than things do.

Ahimsa is a Sanskrit word that means "nonviolence." In ancient yoga texts, it means not violently compelling ourselves or others to change emotionally, physically, or spiritually. Yoga teachers often encourage their students not to strive to achieve a perfect pose but rather to be present and accepting of the current posed, before making any change. With that in mind, I'm trying to pay attention to the moments where I struggle with money and learn and grow from those situations instead of judge harshly from them. So if you want to join in on this spending hiatus, do so, gently and lovingly and gradually.

Specifically some of our financial goals are...

1. Financial Independence. We have some pretty lofty goals of paying off all of our non-mortgage related debt (car loans & school loans) by the end of the year...This can only happen if we continue to increase revenue and decrease spending. I have the debt figures posted by my desk to remind me daily of our goals.
2. Life experiences. We've got some fun travel plans lined up for the next year or so and I want the money for those trips set aside before the trip.
3. Simplicity. I am really trying hard to simplify our lives and get rid of stuff that we no longer use, love or appreciate. Bringing MORE stuff into the house thwarts our decluttering efforts as it just turns into a continuous bad cycle of stuff coming in, stuff going out.
4. Environmental. Likewise, I am trying to only bring stuff into the house that is made in the USA, made with eco-friendly materials, preferably made by local artisans...and of course, not to forget to bring in less overall to stop the endless cycle of over-consumption.
5. Education. Teaching our children that money does not grow on trees and continue to educate myself about the financial realm and how to better manage my families resources. I am hoping to set a better example about saving for my children vs. impulsive consumption.
6. Planning ahead for purchases. For example, my best friend from NY came out to Colorado this weekend for a fun girls weekend...I set aside $ over the past few months {girls weekend $$} -from birthday money and some stuff I sold on ebay - guilt-free cash - to have some guilt-free girl time with Lisa... massages, dinner, etc. I have been planning for the past few months out some garden expenses (soil, compost, seeds, plants, etc.) and bought all of this during Home Depot and a local garden stores Earth Week sales. These purchases did not go on the credit card and I had a budget to stick with.
7. Repurpose. I want to better about repurposing what we have instead of buying a replacement. Waste not, want not.
8. We have enough. More than enough. More than most people around the world. Instead of buying more stuff, I want to be able to travel and help those less fortunate more.

Now, what are my exceptions...besides normal household expenses (mortgage, utilites, car payments, gas, school loans, healthy organic food, baby diapers, formula, Sam's montessori school tuition)... The spending hiatus will apply to the other things (like Target ventures and Anthropologie.com orders). {note: I am going to aim to keep our grocery bills to $125/week as well}.

Exceptions to my spending hiatus may include:

1. Birthday, Baby, Wedding & Christmas Gifts - I will purchase birthday presents for family & friends that I do not or cannot make (but will aim to give the gift of my time with these people vs. a gift; make a gift or purchase a handmade gift from etsy). But these gifts will come out of my small pot of misc. cash each month and not be charged to a credit card.
2. ME funds - I will have a designated SMALL amount of money each month (in cash) that I can use for yoga classes, drinks at girls night out, date night, etc. It's essentially my blow money and when it's up, I guess I will be doing my yoga DVD's at home ;-). But I am aiming to use this money solely on experiences and not more STUFF.
3. Kid's misc. funds - Cash for Sam's dance lessons and misc. things that come up (new sneakers because she outgrew hers, new art supplies for a project, etc).
4. Minimal, mindful household purchases of things we are budgeting and planning for (eg. a pond liner for our pond and 3 aspen trees for our yard).

I am going to keep my monthly spending plan on google docs and track all receipts and checks written into that for our normal expenditures and my cash outlay out of my {envelopes}. I am going to use this dave ramsey envelope wallet thing {I recognize that might make ME look like a dork} but everyone I know who does this says it helps and ME and a credit card at Anthropologie don't mix. Once the money is gone, its gone. What a concept. ;-) I'm also going to try to get rid of 10 things a week from our house (either donating them or listing them on ebay or craigslist).

Oh, and this post by Joslyn's experience with her 3 month spending hiatus sums it up for ME.

So, anyone IN with ME?


kirwin said...

No Anthro?! gasp! I love that store...but totally agree with your entire post.

I have to be honest and say that I'm not "there" yet. I want to be there, I'm working on getting there, but I'm not there yet. And I don't want to say "Count me in!" until I know that I can totally do it with you.

I love that you still have blow money, but that it is being used for experiences rather than things.

LobotoME said...

Hi Kirwin - Thanks for your note - You are exactly right on with what I was talking about - easing into it with time and being gentle with yourself about the process. Last summer I did a month long spending hiatus in July - no spend month - that's a good place to start - 30 days of non-essentials.

J :)

Anonymous said...

I'm in with using the exception list. I'm going to blog about it tomorrow actually. We are taking Dave Ramsey's class - one more week left actually. It has really opened my eyes and actually has depressed me a bit too. ( I will write about that ) I do the budget and give my husband "blow money" but never keep some for me. Or, I spend mine on groceries actually because like you eating organically is so important to me.

We have very similar goals. Thanks for writing this.

Anonymous said...

I wrote actually three times in that comment.

that is three times too many. that is what i get for typing faster than I am thinking

LobotoME said...

Hi Denise - Looking forward to your post! you need to have fun {me} money....I mean life is short afterall - we need to have FUN! ;-)

Wilcox Family said...

I'm in, I'm in. I've just gone through the process of CLEANING out decluttering my entire home/office/life...giving to good will, ebay, freecycle etc.. It feels great and it also showed me how much stuff I had and bought and don't really need. I also layed out the finances black and white. Wow! The combination of the two showed me clearly that it's time for a change...and my financial goals are very similar to yours. I'm excited! :) I have this posted at my desk:

Discipline equates with punishment only when it is imposed on you by someone or something else. When you make the effort to discipline yourself, it is not punishment.

It is POWER!

Self discipline opens up a world of choices and opportunities which would not otherwise be available to you. At its most basic, self discipline is the practice of taking actions, which are in your own best interest, of following the course you have set for yourself. That is certainly not punishment. In fact, it is extremely rewarding.

Indeed it is an effort to stay disciplined. The world is overflowing with distractions which continue to grow in number and persuasiveness. In the space of each moment, you refresh and renew your commitment to staying on track. That’s why it is so important that your goals closely match your most treasured desires.

Discipline will produce luscious fruit. Point yourself in a direction from which you cannot be deterred, and the fruit of discipline will be yours.


LobotoME said...

Hi Jana - Thanks for your great comment! Yes, its amazing how much STUFF we accumulate (especially with kids in the picture)! And I imagine that your garage looks similar to ours (more bikes than people, a second hand version of an REI store, etc.) Keep me posted each week on how its going for you & your family ~

xo, jenny :)

Miss Aimee said...

yeah for you!

Anonymous said...

I'm doing a [new clothes] spending hiatus this year and so far so good.
I felt like I had far too many clothes and wanted to start wearing them all; most of them just sat in the wardrobe!

It feels great to not have the pressure of looking for anything new and its saving me money :)
Good luck

Cassandra said...

I find it funny that there's a BUNCH of us from the hiatus group that have the same weaknesses: Anthro and Target. They are my trouble stores. I have been in to Target twice now since the hiatus is over, and have found myself leaving with ONLY what I went there to get (essential household items.) I'm amazed at how 3 months has changed me. Good luck in continuing. My goals are similar to yours...

Dolly said...

Thanks for the inspiration. Especially about taking it easy....

While I know how important this is and would love to move full speed ahead, the wisdom of taking it as easy is helpful to not feel overwhelmed.... I have to sort out a few other "simplification" goals in my life first before I can commit to being so financially organized.

This is great to have floating around in the back of my mind for now.