Putting my Wallet Back in My Pocket

I’m not proud to admit that in the past few weeks my spending has rocketed to heights not seen since high school, when I worked at McDonald’s and had absolutely no bills – mall shopping became the norm. It seems to have again now. All my sensible spending and thrifting has been wiped out by stupid amounts of spending on things I only vaguely needed or wanted. Part of it is probably due to the fact that I’m bored, but another part is because I got hired in a teacher contract and feel like I have disposable income again.

Me after calculating how much I spent on useless shit.

All summer I was worried that I would be getting nearer and nearer to zero dollars in my account. I had no idea where my money would come from after we moved to Sooke – I knew that my husband’s job was paying for our rent, so I was in a very privileged position of not worrying about accommodation, but basic needs such as groceries were putting a drain on my checking account. Once I got hired (having only missed one pay cycle) I seemed to completely lose all sense of caution and planning for the future.

A couple of items I genuinely needed: I had gained weight during the past few months when the gyms were closed and needed some professional pants and a top that I could wear to work. But that was it. That was literally all I needed – two items. Everything else I have in abundance. But nooooo – I am now the ashamed owner of SIX new pairs of impractical but adorable shoes, three new sweaters, two new tops, and a smorgasbord of empty take out containers because I was too lazy to cook.

Now don’t get me wrong – everyone is needing an outlet these days. I absolutely do not want to shame anyone, including myself, for indulging in a little retail therapy. However, part of my identity has been to be careful with money and less wasteful. I’ve carefully built that up and nurtured that over the past five or six years, and to see myself so carelessly disregard both aspects I hold very dearly to my heart make me feel like shit. I’ve returned one pair of shoes already, but everything else is final sale and I will not be able to return them. I will try to sell one pair of shoes online, but the others I will keep because they are very sweet and will hopefully last a long time. **I also want t caveat this by saying that everything I bought was heavily on sale – I probably spent about $400 on what would normally have been an $800 bill, so there’s that. At least I don’t buy full price anymore, right…?

A metaphor for me burning through cash. So apt.

The inevitable siren song then hit me: my phone is getting up there, maybe I should get a new one. I want new sheets for the bed. Oh, my pjs have the tiniest hole in the pocket, maybe I should get another pair. Ugh. It’s like having a little devil on my shoulder, crooning into my ear about how much I’ll love it once I have all these items. We all know that it won’t make me a damn bit happier, so I need to drop kick that stupid little devil voice back from whence it came.

It’s time to reevaluate what I want my money to do for me, and when. We’ve been given a golden opportunity for the next couple of years where my husband’s company pays for our rent. I do not want to come out of this period without a hefty amount of savings for my future. Every day I’ve been waking up wishing I didn’t have to go to work (we’ve all been there) and it’s got me thinking that I can make that a permanent reality if I wish, but I need to put the effort in. The fact that it is such a long-term view makes it difficult, but it’s writing posts like these, tracking my spending, and reminding myself of what I value that helps me carry on with the plan.

Again, there is no need to shit the bed on this time period. I did something that was very shrewd to help mitigate my unbridled consumerism (okay, maybe I’m a little hard on myself; I feel disgusted at my wastefulness, not going to lie): I re-started my automated deposits to my investment accounts as soon as I was getting paid again. I had to halt the auto deposits for three months because I needed to save up money for a) tuition for a course I’m taking and b) any groceries, bills, etc. that I would have during an unknown period of unemployment. Thankfully it was very short, and I was able to kickstart my savings again. Can I deposit more? Yes. Am I going to? Yes, once I pay off this credit card bill (I always wait until the day it is due, I hate giving them my money before it’s absolutely necessary). How am I going to stop buying shit? I’m going to leave my credit card at home and take a route home from work that doesn’t take me by any stores. I’m going to realize how much I already have and how lucky I am. I’m going to go through my last month’s credit card statement and calculate just how much money I spent on worthless shit. That’s what I’m going to do.

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