Would you try a spending freeze?

spending freeze

spending freeze

Note: I’m doing a month of mini fresh starts, including trying a spending freeze. Here’s the whole list of mini fresh starts if you want to join in.

After fifteen-ish years of being an adult, I’ve come to a conclusion about myself: I’ll never be a good budgeter. I’ve tried several attempts at it over the years to no avail. Budgeting just doesn’t stick. My saving grace for this deficiency is that I like simple living, which means my spending rarely exceeds my means.

In other words, minimalism is a cheater’s way of getting out of budgeting.

In spite of my aversion to budgeting itself, I love reading stories about people who do crazy things with their budgets–like pay off a bunch of debt and go travel around the world on a barista’s salary. Recently I read this story about a young woman who got rid of 70% of her possessions and lived on 51% of her income. Her trick was a year-long spending freeze.

Oddly, budgeting and me don’t get along but a spending freeze…now that’s something I can do.

I’ve read about spending freezes before and have always been intrigued by the challenge of them. So–inspired by the story of the young woman–I sat down the other day and made a list of possible things to NOT buy in the coming year. I won’t bore you with the whole list, but here are some notable items:

Three things I’m thinking of NOT buying for a year

  1. No clothing or shoes. Could you go a whole year without buying any new clothing or shoes? After starting my capsule wardrobe two years ago, and then whittling down to an all-season minimal wardrobe from there, I think this goal could be a possibility for me. My biggest challenge? Not getting bored…
  2. No beauty products. I spent all of last year gradually acquiring the supplies to make a lot of my own natural beauty products at home, so with the exception of an SPF foundation (which is hard to make on your own), this challenge is less about spending and more about me using what I already have. The great thing about natural ingredients is that they last A LONG time, so a year with nothing new excluding SPF foundation seems feasible to me. I guess we’ll see…
  3. No books or magazines. I’m rather bookish so this one will be challenging. When I’m feeling an inspirational lull, my go-to pick-me-up is usually a new book. I also love new cookbooks, and owning copies of my favorite reads so that I can underline them and mark up the margins. That said, I’m intrigued by the idea of re-reading books I already own, and frequently patronizing my local library.

Other things on my spending freeze list include no new technology, no accessories, and no jewelry. All total, my list has fifteen “freeze” categories on it. My plan is to try to stick to the list for twelve weeks and then evaluate how it’s going, what’s working, and what’s not.

Also, I did make a short list of “Yes” categories that I do want to spend money on. They include food, nature (ex. national park passes), trips and travel, and home updates.

The long-term goal of this challenge is ultimately to pay down our mortgage debt and save for a few upcoming big expenses (ex. much needed new carpet). I’ll check back in next quarter with an update. Until then, what about you? What category would you freeze if you had to?

Related: a month of mini fresh starts

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