** This post was originally published in April but has since been updated.
In March I shared my goal of doing a pre-baby spending ban on certain categories. I wanted to stop unnecessary spending, especially it comes to dining out, before our baby is born so I can focus on financial goals. Now I want to provide a spending ban update and lessons I learned in hopes of inspiring those who want to also try to do a ban. Perhaps you can learn from my mistakes! Before I get into what I learned from trying to do a spending ban for a month, here are my fails.
Spending Ban Violations:
Most of my violations were food-related, as I expected. Believe it or not this is actually an improvement from February, when I spent maybe twice as much on Starbucks alone, all because I failed to have breakfast items stocked at home.
Despite all those fails, I did have lots of success thanks to decluttering. My pre-baby nesting included a lot of reorganizing and minimizing. I have donated bags and boxes of stuff, but I also sold quite a few things I no longer wanted or used, including a camera, books and a watch.
I made some money to counteract the spending I did in March. Most of it was from decluttering and selling items online. I also received a refund from an order that never arrived in February, and I was given three gift cards.
- Poshmark: $9.13
- Preserve refund: $14.99
- Target gift card: $10
- Visa gift card: $100
- Ulta gift card: $20
- eBay: $298.49
Lessons from my Spending Ban Attempt:
- Stress is a trigger to spend money for me. We had a rough start to March, which led to poor communication and a lack of energy. I found myself simply not having the motivation to cook my own food on some of the worst days. I discovered I am an emotional spender. When pregnancy or life in general was getting me down, the last thing I wanted to do was “deprive” myself or summon the energy to actually cook after a long day, which led to unnecessary spending.
- You’re going to have a difficult time with a spending ban if you don’t prep food in advance or grocery shop in advance. I could have tried to use up more items we already had rather than spend on takeout.
- You don’t need to spend money for self-care, but you also don’t need to feel guilty when you have a terrible day and a long soak with a bath bomb makes you feel like a human again. I tend to reward myself, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, except when you’re trying to do a spending ban! I’m working on taking care of myself in ways that don’t involve money.
- If you’re going to violate your own spending ban rules, at least look for ways to bring in extra cash as well. Decluttering worked wonders for me in March because I was able to bring in more than I spent simply by ridding myself of items I don’t need, want or use.
- I need to be more mindful of the waste I cause when ordering food and buying food and drinks on the go. If you don’t have a reusable bottle or your own silverware you are creating more waste.
- I have been using chilly Chicago weather as an excuse to spend. Same went for my pregnancy. I really just did not feel like driving to a grocery store, picking up what we need, bringing it home and carrying it by myself (or with V) from whatever street parking I can find to our apartment, especially when I’m so cold and uncomfortable. Maybe late pregnancy was not the best time to do a spending ban?
- Know your why. What is it that you hope to accomplish with a spending ban? Are you saving for a trip? Paying off a student loan or credit card? Being able to remind yourself of the reason may stop you from spending.
My Spending Ban Goal:
The reason I wanted to do a spending ban was to focus on saving as much as I could for my maternity leave. I am proud of the amount I was able to save throughout my pregnancy, even if this month of not spending wasn’t as successful as I had hoped. While I still want to be mindful of where my money goes, I am happy that I should be fine for the remainder of my maternity leave.
Have you ever done a spending ban? Was it a success?