Every so often I like to give myself a little kick-start towards more responsible budgeting by instituting a one-month spending freeze. Now, I know a lot of people who have done various versions of this financial detox, and everyone has their own set of rules. Some don’t spend anything other than mortgage and bills; some give themselves a set budget for groceries and other sundries, with rules on what kind of discretionary purchases are allowed; and a few allow a few dollars a week for gasoline and milk and everything else must come from the pantry/freezer.
My rules have been almost the same over the last few years of this detox. I give myself a grocery budget to allow for fresh veggies and meats but not for three new bottles of nail polish or a new set of kitchen towels. No trips to Target for new t-shirts. No Amazon Prime click-bait purchases. No picture frames or throw pillows or house plants. For me, a financial detox has a lot to do with figuring out how to live with less, figuring out how to re-purpose, to consolidate, and to give any purchases–major or minor–more thought and more impulse control.
In January I had marginal success in my financial detox, but I should never have tried to go 31 days without spending any money just three weeks after moving into a new home. That was a very very bad idea, and while I managed to curb my spending considerably in other areas I went hog-wild in house spending. All were pretty necessary, and still regularly used, but definitely not part of a financial detox plan. Ahem.
And so, we try again. For the month of August I will not buy new, unnecessary incidentals. I won’t buy any house things, no matter how perfect that side stool or storage bin would be for that one little spot. It will wait. I won’t buy nail polish, heaven knows I have more than I could use in half my lifetime. I won’t buy any books and I won’t do any online shopping. No clothes, no shoes, no office supplies (sob!), nothing. I will use up or make do with what I have, and I will learn to live without immediately replenishing non-essentials, I will figure out a runner up option where I can and put all the saved dollars into my piggy bank for…well, to be honest, for what I haven’t quite decided yet. Part of me thinks a little shopping spree September 1 would be a great idea, but most of me knows that the whole point of a financial detox is to re-teach yourself better financial habits, not to just put a temporary hiatus on unchecked spending.