A Month of No Shopping

The first step is always admitting it, right? So here goes: I have a spending problem. Don’t get me wrong – I still save quite a bit of my earnings. Before I moved down to LA this year, I was maxing out my 401(k), contributing the full amount to my company’s stock program, maxing out a Roth IRA, and still putting a little extra into savings. A lot of this was helped majorly by bonuses and unloading vested RSU’s, but nonethless, I made it work. I’m also very grateful to my parents (thanks mum) who put money in my account to pay for family travel expenses, etc.

Since I’ve moved, I’ve dialed back my retirement contributions in the interest of saving for a more immediate goal – paying for b-school (which I’ve still got to get into). Currently, there is a mandatory 7% pre-tax deduction, and I also put in an extra ~8% post-tax. I no longer receive all the nice bonuses and RSU awards I used to, since I work for the state now. I also took a pretty substantial pay cut, but I’ll talk about that some other time. Same goes for my personal finance strategy. Every person is different, but it’s something I want to examine over time.

Anyway, my point is that I have this bad habit of justifying spending sprees whenever there is a major life change or event that occurs. Some of it is definitely necessary, but a lot of is isn’t. I just get it into my head that a new phase in my life (or new travel adventure) necessitates a new wardrobe or new shoes or new toys. Yes, I did need to buy more “business-casual” clothes for my new job because I used to wear jeans everyday (that’s tech for you). Yes, I did need to re-furnish an entire apartment and am still in the process of doing so. And yes, I did need to buy that new $150 vacuum cleaner because for some reason, this apartment is dustier than any place I’ve ever lived and I don’t even open the windows? It was also my birthday month, which I subconsciously used to extra-justify all my spending (sigh).

What I didn’t need was to buy 8 pairs of pants in my quest for the perfect work pant, nor did I need to splurge on a gazillion new pairs of (nice) flats. And I most definitely did not need an X-Box. At least I had the good sense to return that one. I know this because I still reach for the same pairs of pants and shoes at least 2/3 of the week. And they’re not even the new ones. Sigh. So suffice it to say, I’ve been throwing my credit card around like nobody’s business and I’m pretty sure the UPS/FedEx drivers are very familiar with my front door by now.

So I’m going to press pause on any unnecessary shopping through the month of February. “Unnecessary” is categorized as just that – no clothes, no shoes. No toys. No sous vide gadgets. No junk food that I can make myself.

Exceptions:

  • Furniture for my apartment. This most likely will consist of a TV stand and maybe a second floor lamp for my living room.Β A TV. (Bought it this weekend, actually.)
  • Groceries. But try to restrict buying things like pre-baked goods, candy, processed food stuffs. If I want to bake something from scratch, that’s acceptable.
  • Some house items. Stuff related to upkeep and cleaning are ok. Replacing things I’ve used up, but don’t have any extras stashed away for are ok (eg. I have a bajillion types of toner in my stash so I don’t need to buy new toner, but I’m almost out of face wash and I don’t have any of that).
  • Miscellaneous to-dos. Like repairing my major curb rash, or buying return flights and such.
  • Trip expenses. I’m going up to SF for President’s Day weekend, so I can spend on food and such then.
  • Kindle. After being lost to the void in China, I’ve been debating whether to replace this immediately or later on. What I’m worried about is having to take one last emergency trip back home, and not being able to read. TBD.
  • 1 movie. I might catch Black Panther in theaters this month.
  • Existing subscriptions. Currently just Crunchyroll and Shades Club. Spotify’s been paid for the year, and Elizabeth and Clarke is once a quarter.

There you have it. I’m going to make do with what I have, try to eat clean and enjoy watching the Winter Olympics this month. My credit card spending reserves have pretty much dwindled at this point, so I’m starting without any cheat funds available to put on my cards. To myself – good luck! You’ll need it. ;D

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