2021 is almost upon us, and one of my goals (which I’m actually starting from now) is to get a real handle on my finances and let minimalism work its magic on my bank account.
I’m not going to lie; I have a real weakness for books, video games, cafe trips, alcohol, takeaways, and replacing my backpacks for newer ones that catch my eye. My worst financial sins by far are falling back on Paypal Credit or my Argos store card.
The allure of these credit services has allowed me, throughout 2020, to make some really silly financial decisions and questionable purchases that were far from mindful.
Admittedly, finances are something I’ve always struggled with despite becoming minimalist. It’s not that I’m incapable of making sound decisions with my money, but that I’ve been living reactively rather than intentionally.
I have no problem getting rid of my old stuff once I buy something new. The problem is that I buy new when I don’t need to.
A couple of months ago I went back to decluttering the attic. Only this time I tackled some of the stuff that was harder for me to let go of: my old game consoles.
I will talk about that process in another article, but what’s important to mention now is that I sold them and made quite a substantial amount of cash. It’s been my second time doing so. The first time I blew the money I made, but this time something was different.
The SNES and a bunch of other things I sold meant a lot to me. They were a huge part of my childhood and my identity as a gamer. This time, I wanted the money I made from them to mean something. After all, I’ve minimised so much that there’s not much left to sell so I saw it as my last chance to use it for good.
For the first time in my life I used that money with real intention and didn’t buy anything frivolous. In fact, I was loath to spend it at all. That’s when I decided I wanted a big change and have made quite an extreme plan in the form of a 365 day shopping ban.
Cait Flanders did it in ‘A Year of Less’ and the methods she took to turn her life around have always stuck in the back of mind, especially after reading her second book ‘Adventures in Opting Out’. Cait couldn’t be living the lifestyle she is living now, travelling the world and growing as a person if she hadn’t first taken serious stock of her negative habits, negative self beliefs, and chaotic spending.
I hit 34 at the start of this month and it’s terrifying to realise I’m middle-aged (or almost middle-aged depending on how you look at it) and am only just waking up to the fact that I need to be in control of my finances if I ever want the future I’m working towards to materialise.
So, I’ve sat down and drafted my shopping ban. It’s not as extreme as Cait’s was because we have different interests, but it’s a start. I also found myself including a ban on ways to spend my time. Here’s my draft with a few notes:
SHOPPING BAN 2021
Gluten-free food (I’m gluten intolerant)
Herbal and decaf tea
Alcohol (from budget) would ideally like to quit -set low budget
Cafe trip (from budget)
Books (but only if my backlog is empty)
Easter eggs for Eiden (my son)
Birthday gifts and cards
Xbox Ultimate (I adore video games too much to deprive myself)
Driving lessons (very important to be able to get to future counselling courses)
Counselling course level 3 (very important for my future career)
Once a month takeaway
More books when I have others to read
More videogames when I have others to complete
Cafe trips when budget is used up
Alcohol once budget is used up
Takeaways once budget used up (once a month)
New laptop bags
Clothing (unless others have worn out or can’t be mended)
Paypal Credit (very important ban)
Store card use (very important ban)
Banned use of my time
Any form of social media and email over my daily allowance of half an hour
Checking the news more than once a day
Allowed use of my time
Intentional use of Youtube or Netflix
Important use of my time
Seeing friends (dependent on the pandemic situation)
This list could be amended as I go through the year, or if I think of anything new, but it’s important to me that I stick to it, and now I’m holding myself accountable by sharing it on this blog.
I’ll be updating my progress on here at least once a month because I believe that holding myself accountable in public is key to being successful.
If you’re doing a shopping ban or have done one in the past, feel free to drop me an email or a comment – I’d love to hear your story.