Updated: Aug 2, 2018
Most people who know me are aware I have a fairly serious chocolate addiction. I’m very thankful it’s not a drug (although some would argue that it is a legal one) because I eat it every day. I’m not talking a whole block at a time (OK sometimes I am) but a line or two – particularly in the afternoon – is my own version of happy. I know that the concept of a week without chocolate would give my willpower a serious workout.
Of course, from time to time I decide to give my body a break from my daily chocolate hit and eliminate all sugar for a month. Initially my body hates me. By the time I get to day five I am a walking, cranky headache and I’m sure my husband is working longer hours to avoid me. However by the end of the month, if I’m honest, I would have to say that I really don’t miss my daily fix. Of course, what happens is that at the end of the month I reward myself with a piece of chocolate and the spiral takes around another six months before I feel the need to cleanse again.
It can be the same with my finances. While I budget for the big purchases, I find it’s the whole stack of smaller purchases made over time that hurts my bank account or credit card. So my solution to break the habit of almost unconscious spending is the same as it is for chocolate. About twice a year, I simply decide to go for a month without buying anything new.
Now this might seem revolutionary but it is enlightening how much we base our social and leisure time around buying stuff we really don’t need. It might be a coffee with girlfriends and a window shop, a Wednesday night bored on the couch with a bottle of wine and the laptop doing a bit of online shopping, it might be clicking to buy from a gorgeous instagram post or grabbing items you really don’t need at the supermarket. It all just adds to the amount of stuff we accumulate and can over time put a sizeable dent in our bank account. As well as adding a delay to any long term financial goals we might have.
So my solution to break this habit of spending is the same as my chocolate addiction. I cleanse my spending by choosing for one month not to purchase anything new. Of course, groceries and other essential items aren’t included in the financial cleanse but everything else is off the table. So no new clothes, shoes (the toughest one), make-up, books, stationery (another tough one) or any other ‘stuff’. What it does is forces me to become a conscious consumer for a month and breaks me of the habit of spending simply because I can.
If you suspect there is a whole lot of money being spent on a whole lot you don’t need or if, like me, you just need to give yourself a break from spending then why not try it? Decide not to consume anything new for 30 days. How do you start? By picking a date and starting!
If you decide to commit to a financial detox, I strongly encourage you to include your partner, your friends, your family or your kids and educate them on why you’re doing it. This means you’re not only setting up great habits for you but also for your family and friends and helping to make them conscious consumers too. Besides, if your friendship group are all doing this – it’s going to make it a whole lot easier for you too. Perhaps you could have time each week that you talk about what you’ve learned about your spending habits and how you might change things when the detox is over.
If you decide to give this ago then let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org or via twitter at melbrowne_ and I’m happy to wave the pom poms and encourage you or answer any questions you might have.
So what do you have to lose? 30 days with no spending. It might just be the financial cleanse that you need in order to meet your financial goals and reset for a great second half of the year. Financially at least.