An impulsive spender goes on a financial diet…

This idea popped up early yesterday afternoon while I was trying to research how to help my sick dog out (thankfully doing okay, just on a bland diet for the next few days and managing to drink some water in between). I planned to dig up jobs online first thing and take notes and make a list of things to do.

But before I could even get started (seriously, my brain has this self-sabotage instinct that just won’t die, it seems), another angle hit me that I felt might actually be the most helpful, far easier thing I could do in the meantime: put the tourniquet on the wallet and stop the bleeding.

I’d done a bit of minor research into how to stretch my dollars a few weeks ago, especially in regards to food waste and eating on the extremely cheap end. But now it’s time to resurrect those web pages and videos and see what I can do with what I have. I figured out that I really need to absolutely stop spending. Just quit spending money on damn near anything or else looking for a job (and the time it’ll take to get those first paychecks) isn’t gonna help me very quickly. Even if I find one today and start working, it takes a little time to get paid.

And that won’t do much good if the wallet leaks faster than it’s being refilled.

So, while getting a bit of exercise helping my neighbor out and watching my dogs like a hawk, I got to thinking hard about what I could do for the next 30ish days. What I WILL do starting today.

I made the decision that this financially ignorant, impulsive spender is going on a super-restrictive diet. I have to if I plan to get anywhere in the next few months.

I’d mentioned before that I hoped that 2022 would be the year I get my crap together, financially, mentally, physically, etc. Well, the exercise is already paying off a bit at a time. Might as well ensure healthy eating follows, and the financial restrictions, too. The year of getting lean all around. I like that.

Besides, the more I look around me (and how the stuff everywhere just screams “pre-hoarder” because of my impulsiveness), the more I realize I have plenty of stuff to get me through whatever situation I think I might need taking care of. Office supplies are covered, cleaning supplies covered, etc. Just got some extra socks and washcloths, so I’m good on all those angles. If anything, it’s high time I take a realistic assessment as to what I have around me, how much, and that use the items have. Reduce, reuse, recycle in mind.

Especially in the kitchen. I have well stocked shelves and a pantry, but not sure what to do with all that stuff anymore. Those bloody to-do lists and plans had me going nuts buying stuff, and then I forgot why I got what I did and when. So now, I need to take it a day at a time, see what I have available, check a cookbook (if needed) and make dishes accordingly. I definitely have enough food for a month, if I can just figure the best ways to mix and match what I’ve got into good, healthy balanced meals.

That’s the biggest issue: stop spending on pantry staples when I already have plenty of stuff. Keep records on my fridge about what I might need and when. It’s good to have one backup mustard in the pantry, but not 3 or 4. I just don’t need that much (thankfully it’s all stuff that wouldn’t expire any time soon). I’ve got the “staples” covered. Now I just need the filler.

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So, I got to thinking about this financial diet that’ll go on for the next 31 days, and I’m determined to keep to it. I hope I’ll learn to break my crazy spending habits on random, useless (or totally unnecessary) crap that tends to pop up in my life. Don’t need to keep making things harder for no good reason.

So, for the already slim wallet that needs some meat on its bones (and an emergency IV to start it’s recovery off right), I created some ground rules for this month of financial diet correction. It boils down to this: No spending. None. Nein. Nada. Zippo. No spending money on gaming, eating out, browsing the big A, Barnes & Noble (whimper)… none of it. No spending money on ANYTHING with the exception of these things:

  1. Groceries: With the exception of good coffee beans (if I need ’em, but I probably have enough), I’m limiting what I can spend to $10 a week for fresh produce whatever else I might need to help along or re-stock necessities. Means probably no meat but what I have already in the fridge and freezer, but since it’s so freaking expensive anyway (and I don’t eat that much of it), not a big deal right now. Besides, it’ll force me to finally do something with what I’d already bought and make room for more smoothies.
  2. Gas for the car (and mower): Can’t drive to do my job if I don’t have gas. Restrict to $20 a fill-up max to get a better grasp of how often I really have to buy and how much I spend per month. Will help with budgeting after taxes. And since the weather’s warming up and I don’t want snakes and mice getting comfortable too close to the house like in previous years, yeah, I have to invest in a few gallons of gas for the mower. I only mow twice a month at most (I love living out in the sticks), so it won’t be too crazy.
  3. Bills that are due: Can’t get around that, obviously.
  4. Income Taxes: Nuff said.
  5. Pet Food: I’d do the Dave Ramsay broke-ass diet of beans and rice forever before I let my pets deal with crap food (especially the dogs). I think my dogs have more than enough to last through the month, though, which is good because it gets pricey each trip. Fish are sporadic (depends what I find, how big, and how much it is), and parakeets will probably need seeds in a couple of weeks, maybe $10 worth, which isn’t bad\\.
  6. Hygienic supplies and (maybe) OTC meds: Being a woman, things crop up. Nuff said. And unless allergies get especially crappy, I’m pretty sure I have plenty of product in the cabinets. Multivitamins (especially with reduced food options & my occasional low-iron levels) might be necessary, but I think I have enough.
  7. Doctor’s visits and medical bills: Thanks to damned deductibles and the latest lab bill, this is gonna be the wild card for the month, but can’t be helped. Just gotta factor it into the budget somehow as a question mark item that could pop up now and again and learn from it.

Of course, the more I look at the list, the more I realize with dismay that I’m gonna be spending a pretty penny this month no matter what. But that’s what I need most: use what I learn the next 30ish days to make a realistic budget and figure out what I need to do to pad the wallet for the future.

Naturally, I’m gonna be looking for work while determinedly doing NO shopping or browsing for crap impulsively. I hope this 30 day financial diet will help me lose my taste for dumb spending and give me what I need to kill the debt rather than grow more of it.

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The tricky part is gonna be remembering NOT to spend anything on online gaming. That’s one thing that kinda crept up on me and I didn’t realize I was spending so much for upgrades and things like that. I’m removing card info and putting reminder notes up by the screen to NOT buy a damned thing (if I’m very colorful with the language, it’ll help–hee hee). I suppose this month I’ll just “play lean” and do the bare minimum for team points and restrict myself to 20 minutes so I don’t go browsing for things to level up (and end up paying for the privilege to do so because I’m so impatient). I shudder to think how much money I wasted on gaming the past year and a half. Well, going super lean there, too, now.

I hope I can do this right and really learn from it. I hate my impulsive spending tendencies and have wanted to do something about them for ages. Perhaps now that I’m trying to get better sleep, looking for work, and exercising, the “shopping out of boredom” isn’t as likely to happen as it’s been in ages past.

So, it’s gonna be a bloody enlightening month, that’s for sure.

Back to the paperwork, the forms, and the job boards. And the coffee pot. I’m sure gonna need it today.

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