Just over a year ago, I moved for the third time since graduating college. (For the record, I’ve moved again since, but it’s not like I’m counting or anything.) It was in that move that I realized how many book I had accumulated over college. I say “accumulated” because I hadn’t read them; I just accumulated them.
That was the realization that prompted my first ever spending ban leading into the Q3 2016. After a whole year of categorical spending bans, I’m excited to be diving into my fifth quarter- the beginning of a second year. The idea of categorical spending bans was to start being conscious of my spending behaviors in areas of my life where I was careless. After a failed No Spend Month back in January 2016 (okay, arguably not too bad), I decided that was not a strategy that would work for me. In that first categorical spending ban, I started with books. I’ve slowly expanded to more and more categories, a trend that I hope to continue going into the next quarter. Before moving forward, though, I think it’s important to reflect on where we’ve come from.
Books were and have always been the root of my spending ban.
Last quarter I gave myself permission to buy ONE book and I did. I originally laid out three possible books, and I know myself well because I ended up picking right off the list I laid out. I bought Rachel Cruze’s Love your Life, Not Theirs on Audible, but then ended up with BOGO situation and also got It Starts with Food on Audible. I’m not super into audiobooks because I consume so many podcasts, but I enjoy Rachel on podcasts, so I figured it’d be worth a whirl.
Otherwise, I’m glad to say that I have been successful at my spending ban. I have still accumulated books, primarily through the generosity of friends and my clout with this space (the opportunity to review books prior to their publication is preeeetty cool, not gonna lie), but at least I haven’t spent any more money books.
I’m also doing well at reading books, the other half of the process of getting rid of book. As I write this, I’ve finished 16 books this year. This puts me one book ahead of where I need to be for my goal of 30 books this year.
Honest question: What are cosmetics? Is it all beauty supplies? Is it make up? Meh, not really sure.
This quarter I bought two new nail polishes. I used to never do my nails. When moving to North Carolina, though, I thought this would be one of the few “lifestyle inflation” things that I was going to indulge in. That was the plan and I did execute on it for a couple of weeks. Then I decided it was too expensive and stopped getting my nails done.
In January, when my friend Blair came to visit, she emphasized that I could do my own nails. Listen: I never did my own nails before. It was just not something we did growing up and not a habit I developed. Since then, I had been doing my own finger nails. I only had the one nail polish, though, so going into summer I wanted more options. Plus, I’ve proven to myself that this is a thing that I do use. In some ways, it’s even an investment because I’m not spending money on getting my nails done by doing them at home by myself. I bought one nude and one bright pink/coral-ish color. I’m sure that over time I’ll start to get better at my nails.
I also splurged on a pedicure for my birthday. Just a pedicure, because I did my manicure myself.
The other thing I bought, which to be honest, I vacillated on whether or not to list here, were two new conditioners. I ran out of the usual conditioner that I use, so that needed to be replaced. I also got a leave-in conditioner because this North Carolina summer is no joke on the hair follicles.
Finally, I bought a couple of new essential oils that I need to replenish oils I had finished- lavender, joy, and fitness. These are all part of my regular EO routine, so this is replacing things I’m actively using, as opposed to spending for the sake of spending.
I question sometimes if I think through the things I write. When I said that I wasn’t going to spend on clothes, I said/wrote that in large part because I hadn’t been spending on clothes. I hate shopping and my wardrobe was doing the job.
Well, unfortunately, my wardrobe is just not doing the job anymore. Especially with the season change, I realized that I didn’t have crucial summer items. I have, much to my chagrin, worn a whole into my favorite jersey dress. I actually did wear it so much that a wore a whole into it. Bummer.
In addition to being out of my current fave casual do-anything dress going into my favorite dress-wearing season, I also found myself out of key staple pieces. For example, I didn’t have any sandals. While maybe wearing flip flops all the time is acceptable as a teenager, I can’t get away with it now. I bought a $25 pair of black and gold sandals from Target. With no bikinis going into bikini season, I also needed a new bikini. I bought these two sets off Amazon (1 & 2) for $28.
For my birthday, I also got a StitchFix box. In that box, I specifically asked for white jeans, a leather jacket, and the emerald dress from Erica’s box. I got the white jeans and the leather jacker I wanted, but only the jeans matched my style. The jacket was just… odd. I love these white jeans so much. I wore them last weekend when Casey and I went out to dinner. These pants are perfect.
When I hastily decided to ban the category of fitness, I laid out a definition for what that meant, aiming to not set myself up for failure. I specifically banned Fitness Clothes, Gear, Supplements, and Coaching. And… I did it!
The only real patterns of spending behavior that would mention is that I got a couple of WODBody sports massages. I also spent some money (from the grocery budget) experimenting with protein-packed food like OatsOvernight, these Kodiak Minute Muffins, and BuffBake’s Cookie Almond Butter. These were not banned; in fact, they were explicitly okay’ed, but I thought I’d mention it anyway.
To recap, here is what I did buy that I shouldn’t have:
- Love Your Life Not Theirs by Rachel Cruze (which was okay)
- It Starts With Food by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig (which was also kinda okay)
- Nude Nail polish
- Coralish Nail polish
- Pedicure for Birthday
- Leave-in Conditioner (This is the one I bought, but I got it at Walmart.)
- Young Living Lavender Essential Oil
- Young Living Joy Essential Oil
- Young Living Fitness Essential Oil
- White Jeans through StitchFix
- Black & Gold Sandals (Similar)
- White Bikini
- Blue Bikini
While that looks like a long list written out like that, it’s really only 14 things over the course of a whole quarter. Three months! Even though the idea of a ban is to not spend anything, the intention of my categorical spending ban is to force me to be more conscious of my spending habits. It is with that in mind that I consider this ban a success to this point.
Looking forward to the next quarter of the year- July, August, and September- I am going to continue to push on with the no books ban, making an exception for audiobooks through Audible if they’re one of the perks at my new job. Also, I must finish one audiobook before getting the next one.
Again, no cosmetics. In fact, I would like to actually push to finish at least one of my face masks and two other “beauty things” (purposefully vague). I may need a new moisturizer. If I run out of my current one, I am giving myself permission to replace it.
For clothes, I am aiming to add five new pieces of quality to my wardrobe, assuming my StitchFix stylist comes through. This means I will not have a ban in this category this month.
The fitness ban will roll over to this quarter as well. I will need to buy Whey protein (in fact, it’s now part of my Subscribe & Save from Amazon), but I won’t have to take any action on it.
This quarter I’m not going spend on Etsy, something I’ve really been tempted on lately. I don’t know what it is, but I find myself on Etsy way too often probably because we’ve been decorating the house and I want to buy all the things.
That being said, I’m also not going to be spending on decorating the house! We’ve got the big clock. We’ve got the bible verse and the family calendar. There’s the collection of photos and some art. Two afghans, a tapestry, three diplomas, a commissioning certificate, multiple Baltimore prints, a collage of photos, a bible verse, and some printed canvases cover our walls. I don’t need anything more.
In summary, this quarter I will not be spending on:
- Books, exception for audiobooks if they are a work benefit and only after finishing ones I have
- Clothing, except for 5 pieces
- Fitness (Clothes, Gear, Supplements, and Coaching), exception for whey that I’ve already ordered
- Home Decor
Let’s chat: Have I inspired you to start your own categorical spending ban yet?
Emilie is an Army Wife, Data Engineer, and CrossFitter with a love for working through her thoughts in this space on the internet. She lives with her husband Casey and their pup Bo in Savannah, GA.