At the end of 2016 I had an idea creep up my shoulders and bury itself into the forefront of my mind. “I want to go on a spending detox”. I was startled by it, because it was very unlike me to think such a thing. But I was curious what it had to say and if I could actually do it.
I’m not one who typically jumps head first into a thought or decision, I take my time really pondering and analyzing if it sits well for me. After a couple of weeks of mulling the idea around I was pretty sure that I wanted to go forward with it. It was scary and terrifying and I wasn’t too sure if I could actually pull it off. But I was determined.
Here is a little secret about me: I’ve only recently discovered the benefits of being determined to see something through, and I’m astounded by the results. Determination and dedication isn’t something that I was naturally born with, nor was taught in my upbringing. So when this idea came rearing it’s head at me, I shied away at first because I was afraid that I would fail before I would even start.
As I rung in the new year with a glass of bubbly in my hand I knew that I was turning over a new chapter in my life. I, the one who enjoys spending money, shopping for my children, stopping into stores like Burberry and Louis Vuitton just to see what they had was going to go on a spending detox.
But first, I needed to lay a good foundation to set myself up for success. I’ll share what steps I took in case you’d like to follow along.
How to start a spending detox:
Detox the inbox
My first course of action was detoxing my inbox. All those sales newsletters I was getting I knew was feeding into my desire to spend money and shop, even if I wasn’t interest in buying anything! I had to be cut-throat about the process and unsubscribe from almost every single newsletter that came into my inbox: The GAP, JCrew, Kate Spade, Amazon, the lifecoaches and influencers who sell knowledge based products. All of them had to go. The first couple of unsubscribes hurt, but then I had to remind myself that I was protecting the success of my spending detox by making sure I didn’t get tempted by future sales emails, and I could also resubscribe in the future if I wanted to.
Detox your social media
My next step was going through and unfollowing particular pages or people on my social media feed who would make me want to buy what they were selling or raving about. Some people were painful to unfollow, because I truly loved their feed, but I knew that I needed to feel good about opening up my social media sites and not be cringing and complaining about starting on my spending detox. I also told myself that I can follow them later when I felt more secure in my new way of living, or when I’m done my detox.
Set a finish date
Doing those steps helped me feel like I was setting myself up for success. These smaller detoxes were essentially training me for the larger detox. But I needed to know how long my spending detox was going to last. At first I was telling myself it needed to be a year, because that seemed to be what everyone else was doing. But the more that I sat with it the more that a whole year of doing a spending detox felt challenging and daunting. It didn’t seem fun or exciting, it felt like I was just trying to prove I could do it. Then a friend asked, “what will feel challenging yet do-able” and I instantly knew that six months would suit me more.
It takes three months to break your previous habits and another three to build new ones. I knew six months would be the perfect amount of time to really lean into my spending detox while also learning new habits so I could continue to spend differently than before.
Create a Need and Want list
Once I had my finish date in my calendar, end of July 2017, I had one more task to keep me in line. Knowing what exactly I would be spending my money on for the next six months! I wanted this ready and available so that no matter where I was I could refer back to it when I was in a weak moment – like walking through the grocery store – and pulled out the note app on my phone and got to work. I loved how I got to control what was acceptable, by me, to purchase and what my money would be going to go towards.
I’ll share what exactly is on my Need and Want list next time so you can have a deeper look.
Then the fun started, my Spending Detox was happening
Suddenly, instead of my spending detox feeling restrictive and like I was banning myself from enjoying life I was giving myself freedom to live my life differently.