To be more specific, I spent $2408.94 on ‘stuff’ last year. Stuff being miscellaneous, clothing, books, and toiletries. As part of my 2018 Shopping Ban (and on the nudge of my friend Luxe over at the Luxe Strategist), I went back through my transactions for the last year and added up everything that wasn’t an absolute necessity. Essentials in my case include rent, food, car insurance, and gas.
Like I talked about in a recent episode of Tiny Bites, I was resistant to going through my transaction history for a final, total number. I was worried about what it would say about me as a minimalist. But, I realized that no matter what the number was, the number itself is just a fact. It’s a fact of how I spent my paycheques over the last year. It’s just a number. Any emotional baggage I add to the number is my own doing, not the numbers. I’ll get into the emotional baggage a little later.
To be as transparent as possible here’s a complete breakdown of my ‘stuff’ over the last year.
This is mainly stuff from online retailers where I couldn’t clearly tell what category it fell into (aka it starts with an A and ends with an n). Think tech, cables, the odd household product, etc. The moral of the story here is that small purchases are easy to overlook and they add up quickly.
This number was high but not as high as I was expecting. I stocked up on a lot of basics that I love (like Canadian made undergarments). I also switched jobs this year which required me to add some business casual items to my one pair of dress pants and three blouses.
Apparently, e-books add up! I even did a book ban for part of last year and my spending is in this area is still higher than I’d like. Most of the books I purchase tend to be e-cookbooks. So, at least I know I’ll get more out of then than a novel – which I almost never re-read.
This total surprised me – a lot. That’s a lot of money for someone who does a bare minimum of makeup daily. I’m hoping to chip away at this total during the shopping ban by using up everything I have under the bathroom sink and by making my own basics (like deodorant and lip balm) using surplus ingredients I already have on hand.
So, how did this happen?
I’ll be honest, I really didn’t want to write this part. I did everything else in my house that I could think of before sitting down and being honest with myself. This included cleaning my apartment, working out, reorganizing my bathroom cupboard, making three different multi-cooker meals, putting away dishes – the works. I was looking for any excuse not to have to write this part. Because what it all boils down to is that I’m still not the mindful consumer that I wish I was (and that I like to portray myself as here). My compulsive shopping habits still rear their ugly head from time to time, and the result is the number in the title bar in this post.
Let me give you some examples.
I know for a fact that the makeup and toiletry total is higher than it should be given how much product I actually use on a daily basis because I pressured myself into buying some fancy cosmetics for a girls weekend I had planned in December. With my best friends. The best friends who literally wouldn’t care if I showed up in sweatpants and a messy bun. Yet, I convinced myself I needed something new and sparkly to paint on my face to make me worthy of their attention. To show them that my life was, in fact, going according to ‘plan’. Whose ‘plan’ that is, I’m not entirely sure.
And then, there’s the clothing total. It’s true I did genuinely need to buy some more clothes for my new position – my work from home wardrobe of yoga pants was certainly not going to cut it. But, I still went a little overboard because I was imagining I was going to magically turn into some corporate city-style type person. Then I showed up for my first day of work and realized I had misinterpreted the dress policy. I still needed to look professional and put together, but not to the tune of $996. I could have gotten away with some less fancy pieces. But, I created this image in my head of what I thought professional me needed to look like in order to be taken seriously (by myself and my colleagues).
Finally, the books and magazines. I used to have a serious magazine buying problem. Any fashion magazine was very much fair game for me. I broke that habit for good a couple of years ago, but the odd one still slips in every now and then. My real kryptonite is e-books. When most of them retail for only $9.99 it makes it hard to say no. Of course, I need every paleo cookbook ever written – how else will I find recipes I can make to impress the people around me? Do I ever look through any of them? Of course not, that’s what the Internet is for.
Dealing with the Spending Guilt
I know it probably doesn’t sound like it, but, I’m trying not to feel guilty about the fact I spent $2400 on ‘stuff’ last year. Mainly because it’s not like I can go back and change it. That’s what I spent last year – it’s just a fact. This year will be different. The shopping ban will help with that. I don’t track my spending like this on a daily basis (I can hear my personal finance friends gasping), so this was really interesting.
To see where your money has gone over the course of the year is an eye-opening exercise. I’m genuinely surprised by some things, which is why the shopping ban has come at exactly the right time. I’m glad I did this exercise because it’s given me a baseline from which to compare this year’s spending. I don’t think I’m automatically going to save $2408 this year. Some things (like toiletries and makeup) will still need to be replaced. But, I do know I won’t be spending anywhere near that number on stuff specifically. And, that’s a darn good feeling.
Have you ever tracked your spending like this? Did the results surprise you?
Next week on the blog, I’m going to be sharing my one-month shopping ban update, plus some new rules based on feedback from readers (aka you guys). If you missed last week’s episode of Tiny Bites, all about my phone being out of sight and out of mind, you can listen to it here.
Image Credit: Tiny Ambitions