Once upon a time, when I first started discovering the wonderful world of blogs, my favorite blogs were money and debt blogs.
I mean, I was doing okay, financially. I had a car loan, but no credit card debt. Still, I worried about money. Somehow, it all seemed to shoot out of my bank account every month at faster and faster rates.
And while, yes, technically, I was fine, I did find myself sometimes running up balances on my credit card that I couldn't pay off without pulling a little money out of savings. I would lie awake at night and stress out about money. How much would my credit card be this month? How were my savings doing? Should I reduce my contribution to my 401(k)?
So I read money blogs. And read and read and read. And they were great and offered very common sense advice that generally boiled down to this: spend less.
And that is good advice. And yet, every month, my credit card bill seemed to be higher than the month previous. Every month there seemed to be SOME REASON why I couldn't cut costs down.
I tried financial diets. I decided not to spend any money on anything unnecessary for a month. I spent the whole month desperately fiendy and wishing I could buy a myriad of things: dresses, purses, shoes, etc.
Nothing seemed to work. And the credit card bills continued their inexorable climb.
And then one day, I saw No Impact Man on the Colbert Report. Suddenly, I was not thinking of my purchases in terms of their monetary cost to me, but their environmental cost.
I decided to stop buying new things for a year. I decided not to buy any clothes, new or used, for a year.
I didn't really notice it at first. True, my August credit card bill was $500 less than my July credit card bill, but July had been an expensive month. While my August credit card bill was low, it wasn't abnormally low.
But then September's bill came and October's and November's and I started to realize that what was odd about these bills wasn't that they were so low. Again, none of them were insanely low. It's just that even though I had had various crises like a $510 car maintenance that normally would result in an insanely high credit card bill, I was still somehow able to keep the credit card bills down.
December hit. I had bought most of my presents before then, but I still had family presents which tend to be the most expensive ones anyway. I also threw a holiday party at my house. And yet? Thanks to DeSloFooMo, December's credit card bill reached a low I hadn't seen in over a year: $400 less than August's credit card bill.
This past month was an expensive one for a variety of reasons including a last minute ticket to the funeral in Chicago. That's okay really. That's what savings accounts are designed for: stuff like funerals that you can't plan in advance for.
But, as it turned out, I didn't need to dip into savings. My credit card bill was slightly higher than it has been lately, but still nowhere near as high as July. Only slightly higher than that "low month" of August. And because my credit card bills had been so insanely low the couple months prior, I had more than enough money to pay off the bill.
So oddly enough, my money issues began to end the moment I stopped obsessing over money, and started focusing on the bigger picture. While I could never quit with the buying when it was just about me and my finances, somehow I was able to give up shopping fairly easily when I realized that this was about more than myself.
I gave up the debt blogs except for one, my favorite. I don't really need them anymore. I've learned, finally, how to just spend less.
2 months ago