I started a No Spend Challenge for February almost a week ago, and had one successful day of actually not spending. I wasn’t even being super strict– I wasn’t cutting out all spending, just any non-essential spending on coffee and restaurants and planner supplies. It obviously didn’t work out so well, seeing as I’ve bought somewhere close to ten new planners in a single week– and I think I realized where I went wrong.
I’m bipolar, and I struggle with manic spending sprees as one form of stress escape– I just started a new medication last week, and while that may have been a factor in my enormous failure of discipline lately, I’m pretty sure that I hold a hefty share of the blame too. But in terms of my No Spend Challenge, I can’t help but wonder if it wasn’t doomed from the start– not because I’m incapable of managing my spending, but because I should have planned ahead enough to realize that when I tell myself that something I enjoy (like shopping, or pizza, or chocolate) is absolutely off-limits, I start to feel resentful and deprived of that something, and end up craving it even more than I usually would.
I think my challenge was a failure of verbiage. Instead of a goal focused on “I won’t”, I really need to have a goal focused on “I will”– “I will put $50 into savings instead of spending it on a new planner.” All of my shopping in the last week has been tinged with an ugly underside of guilt, because even though I knew that I was spending well over my budget limits, I kept going and going, almost like I couldn’t find my own “off” switch.
Since we’re a third of the way finished with February, I’m ending my No Spend Challenge for February and I’m going to take a few weeks to rethink my strategy to begin a hopefully more successful “I will” challenge in March.