3 things I’ve learned from my spending detox

3 lessons I learned from my spending detox

When I look back at this time last year I forget that I was in the middle of my spending detox (6 months of spending zero money on anything other than what we need). I thought it would change my life, but it didn’t, in fact, my finances are still much the same.

When you start a spending detox, you go into it hoping that your finances will look drastically different. I had hoped for lots of money saved in the bank, a new look on life, and a roadmap of where our finances would go. So,  I wanted to share three things that I learned from my spending detox even if my finances don’t look that much different.

3 things I learned from my spending detox

1. Plan for success, diligently.

I had created a list of needs vs. wants, which I feel greatly helped with me knowing what to spend money on and what could wait. However, I wish  I would have spent more time planning out the six months and what events and seasons were coming so that I could make sure I had everything ready and available for when those times came. For example, within weeks of starting my detox, I forgot to pack underwear for a week-long trip. Yes, this is considered a need at this point because no one wants to wear the same pair of underwear for a week. I stopped into a store and bought a few pairs.  When I look back at this experience, it was a first world problem that I solved very quickly with money. I could have gone the entire week wearing one pair (hand washing every night). But once I stepped foot into the store my old habits of spending took over and the next time I was approached with moving a want onto the need side, I easily justified it.  When winter transitioned into spring, I found my closet bare of spring/summer clothes and justified purchasing new clothes. If I were to do it again, I would really plan out those six months looking at every piece of clothing in my closet and the seasons approaching and the events so that I could plan accordingly and not have to step into a store the whole time, unless something truly needed to be replaced and then really consider how to replace it.

2. Be specific about your goals.

When I started my spending detox I thought it would be a fun way to see where our money was going, but truly I had hoped I would have money saved in the bank by the end of it. Halfway through the detox, I sat down with my husband to go over how much I had saved. I had estimated an amount, but when he opened up our account it wasn’t even close. I was devastated.  I thought I had been doing so well, but the reality is that I wasn’t doing as well as I hoped. Looking back I should have set up a savings plan to move the money that I wasn’t spending into a savings account so that I could track how much money I was actually saving. Instead, the money stayed in our chequing account and was spent anyway, just differently.

3. Have fun with it.

When I think about those six months I would say about 4 out of the 6 I was actually on my detox, the last two so much had shifted that it almost felt like it went out the window. But I felt okay with it because I was having fun. I was enjoying analysing how I felt when I did spend money, at what point my body would turn into stress mode at a particular price point, and I also changed the price point of my mental budget of particular items.

My spending detox didn’t turn out exactly as I planned, but I do deem it as a success because, in the end, I learned where our money was going and it gave us a baseline of how we wanted our future spending to look like. I’m considering doing another spending detox and implementing the lessons I learned to see what kind of outcome I come up with next. Although I might do a four-month detox instead of six because just like any workout you don’t move up a weight until you can master the full reps with the weight you currently can handle. I clearly can handle four months right now and maybe someday I can do six.

Are you thinking of doing a spending detox? I would love to hear.

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