Sunday, November 7, 2010

What's the definition of "NO" exactly?

Right, so, I'm at the beginning of "No Spend November" which is, truthfully, going quite horribly.  I gave you a run-down on Day 1, so let me follow up with the last few days.

Day 2: Give me a medal.  Didn't spend a penny!
Day 3: #FAIL
Day 4: Epic #FAIL

To put it in perspective, on Day 3 I did my little trick of returning some stuff ($9.33) and then buying some more stuff ($5.56), with the idea that "net" I saved some money because I spent less than I returned.  I seriously think that's cheating, but it makes me feel better that I'm kind of sort of still a little bit following along.

But that's NOT the point!!  Day 4, fresh off my mild disappointments of Day 3, I realized that my NSN is not at all about not spending money, it's about my attitude behind my spending.  I made that point before, right?  That I want to be GRATEFUL for the things I do have and not spend a bunch of money on things I just "want." 

Now, I'm totally NOT going to go blame it all on my mom (although in most of life she thinks you can always blame everything on your parents) but, I grew up in a house where retail therapy was one of the five food groups.  Seriously.  Fridays were shopping days.  I learned my best math at some big fancy department stores on their "Take an extra 40% off" days.  To this day, although my husband is generally much better at figuring math problems in his head than I am, I will beat him every time when it comes to calculating a percentage off of a product, and what the final cost will be.  I tell you this to help you understand that when I say I use shopping (and, um, food, which we can talk about another time) instead of dealing with my emotions, well, you can see how it's not that far off, and, given my upbringing it makes total sense.  Of course you would do that!

But when I really stop to think about it, I don't like it that way.  I want to go buy something because I need it.  Ok, maybe once in a while I'll just buy something for the sheer pleasure of "wanting it" and then getting it, but otherwise I really only want to buy things because they add value to my life.  And more often than not, I'm realizing that I'm engaging in retail therapy because I'm anxious, worried, concerned, or unhappy about something else that is going on in my life.  Shopping is fun! It makes you feel good! You deserve it! You're worth it! Whether or not all the ads encouraging you to buy, buy, buy make it sound like this, those statements are things our culture subliminally tells us every day.  If we stop long enough to think about what it is we are doing, we'd be shocked.  That's why I love the bumper sticker that goes something like this: "If you aren't enraged you aren't paying attention."

Don't get me wrong, I'm not living in a house that would qualify for a Hoarders episode (yet) and I'm not wracking up thousands of dollars of debt with my purchases.  But I am definitely guilty of saying "Oh, I have a big difficult long day ahead of me, I'm going to treat myself by going out and buying a cup of coffee."  Or visiting the local bakery. Or allowing myself to ________ (fill in the blank).  Instead of actually recognizing that "Ok, this is going to be hard, I have to deal with it" I stuff my face (or my shopping bag) with something and then let the situation just happen.  I should probably just let it happen without the baggage of all the other stuff.

Which is where No Spend November comes in.  I realize that I'm not always that grateful for what I do have, and what I can do.  By trying to NOT spend, I'm recognizing my weaknesses for certain items, times of day, and events in my life where I turn to something else to really satisfy me.  And all this material stuff?  Well, you can't take it with you.  And it doesn't satisfy long term.  It actually creates lots of headache (and heartache, too).

So, I'm back on the trail of gratefulness today.  I'm hoping not to spend any $$, but if I do, I will know why and how and be better for it.  I hope.

What are you grateful for today?  Are you demonstrating it, or just saying it?


Pam Landy said...

Man, this struck a chord with me - while I'm not in debt, I haven't saved a dime beyond my retirement accounts. It's really difficult for me to tell myself "no," also, and every month I get the same old stuff, and I'm off budget by the same amount. I'm not looking forward to Christmas shopping, at all :/ Luckily JB is super-thrifty, but it takes two!

BunnyO said...

So how have the last bunch of days been? You sound so much like me in this post. I am grateful for the opportunity to choose. I have finally learned that in buying, doing or having, I have a choice. I don't have to buy, do or have anything I don't want or need. I can choose to say yes or no. I can choose to tell myself I am emotionally spending. I can choose to remind myself that the small buy will instantly gratify, but the remorse will last much longer. Have you tried reducing your spending by half or so before going "cold turkey" on a no spend month?