It didn’t go as planned, and that’s ok.
After two weeks of being pretty good at the no spend January, week three was a wash. I lost my motivation and splurged beyond my set budget (but not by much) on some tasty foods and wine. It’s funny how it is easier to stay on the budget when everything else in my life is going well. The uncertainties of my job and financial future, along with some family arguments this week, sidelined my efforts. I just wasn’t strong enough under duress.
In a fog of serious anxiety (sometimes dulled by wine), I paced the ~800 sq feet of my apartment, and mindlessly scrolled social media like a zombie. It’s scary when the simple things of life are out of control. The degree I worked hard to get is both the key to a good-paying job, and a detriment if good-paying jobs aren’t available. The grocery store doesn’t seem to be interested in a middle-aged cashier with a master’s degree. To make myself feel better, I broke down a shelf to throw away. The dismantling of a wobbly wooden piece of furniture was somehow satisfying. Once that was done, I filled a garbage bag with old student projects and various classroom supplies that I no longer needed. It was hard to let them go, but I don’t plan to return to teaching in a public school. The purging distracted my attention and felt like progress in a world where everything else seems to be standing still.
The purging of old things started to snowball by the 21st. I got it in my head that I had to make up for the money that I spent over-budget in the last week. I had failed at the no spend in the third week, so maybe I could make it up to my psyche by offsetting the loss. There were plenty of things around me in the apartment that I didn’t need… perhaps I could sell them and maybe not beat myself up over my perceived failures. I listed an old guitar and some children’s books on marketplace, thinking that with any luck I may just sell them each for $10. I haven’t had a lot of luck selling things in the past, but I was determined to give it a try.
Within an hour they were both sold. It was the inspiration I needed to get out of my funk. I started scouring my apartment for what else could be sold. I came up with a desk, a chair, a mirror and a framed poster. All of these things have been lying around or displayed, but not necessarily used or appreciated. They were covered in a stubborn dust and begging for a useful purpose. I snapped a few pictures and waited for more people to take away my stuff.
Now, selling things on marketplace is a lot like internet dating: there are a lot of inquiries, few of them are quality, and most people just disappear after they express interest. It took a few days, but most of the items sold, and brought in $65. There are a few more things I’d like to list and sell, but I’ll wait a few days. In the search for things to sell, I also removed a few more bags of trash, which made me feel better despite my spending. One area that needed a lot of downsizing was my craft stash. I have a tendency to hold onto things with good intentions.
So while the no-spend part of my journey did not go as planned, I did learn a few things along the way! It is difficult to not spend on comfort items during times of duress. The stress and anxiety of unemployment compounded by a pandemic has wrecked havoc on my self-control when it comes to the simple comforts of fatty foods and wine. My journey to save money will not end when the calendar flips into February, but this first month was definitely a learning experience in self-control. I wasn’t surprised to learn that is an area in which I need a lot more practice.
Budget Snapshot: I have a lot of work to do on limiting my creature comforts. For the month of January, I budgeted up to $200 for groceries, and nothing else. While I did buy a few items from the thrift store for crafting purposes, the total between that and groceries was still under $200. I am ending the month with a small surplus… and a long way to go to achieve my goal.