I never cared too much for money. I never respected it or the freedom it could bring me. I am now trying to save more money, and am trying to outline a sort of ‘spending ban’ or ‘frugal fast’ that aligns with how I like to live. I have come across several mentions of such experiments, such as Cait from Blonde on a Budget who is near the end of a two year shopping ban. Canna Campbell from SugarMammaTV took on a ‘Frugal February’ challenge this year where she successfully cut down on expenses solely for the month of February with a view to seeing where she could save money long term.
Since I have started intentionally living a more minimalist life, which was about January of this year, I have cut down on buying things hugely. This does not necessarily mean that I have cut down my expenses hugely, however. I still eat out a lot, I meet friends for coffee and I like to travel. This can be very expensive. I also love to treat myself on my days off (I work shift work) and pay 15 to 20 euro for a manicure, or a hair treatment, or some other such expense that I don’t actually need, but I enjoy the experience at the time. I used to shop to make myself feel better. If I had a stressful few days in work, I would go out and buy clothes or shoes or some other such items I really did not need or appreciate.
I realised that this wasn’t working for me, so I stopped doing it. I didn’t replace it with something helpful and holistic, I was still left with that feeling of needing comfort and stress release. So now, I go out and pay someone to paint my nails, which forces me to take time out of the day for me, and makes me feel pretty and well cared for. It also makes me feel guilty, for spending money on something so frivolous when I am trying to save money.
So now I am looking for the balance. A shopping ban isn’t for me at this stage, I am working towards using a capsule wardrobe and therefore will only purchase clothes and shoes and such items in a very intentional fashion. It also isn’t for me as I have realised that I really appreciate having coffee out with friends, I don’t do it excessively and ceasing the practice altogether will result in seeing less of my friends. Frugal February is maybe closer to where I want to be, but I need to think long and hard about why I spend money where I spend it, and where my spending guilt comes from. Guilt is, I believe, a primarily useless emotion, it’s only purpose being to promote introspection.
Watch this space.
I came across The Minimalists website and podcast through a YouTube channel I watch, SugarMammaTV. Although the channel is based around financial freedom and planning, the creator is a minimalist who made an intriguing video on The Minimalism Game. This game or challenge asks you to declutter belongings over a 30 day period, removing one item on day one, two on day two etc, until you have removed almost 500 belongings from your home and surroundings in only 30 days.
I was incredibly intrigued by this concept, albeit intimidated by the sheer amount of stuff I would have to remove. As soon as I started, I remembered just how satisfying it is to declutter and clear out the rubbish and excess, and I ended up completing all 30 days of the challenge in just six days. I donated boxes and boxes of books, I brought clothes to 2nd hand stores and textile recycling banks, I discarded old and unused cosmetics. I actually downsized my makeup and cosmetics so much that I ended up donating my dresser to a neighbour through a website, and purchasing a much smaller and neater one.
When I first began this declutter, I was merely skimming over the top of my belongings, removing only clothes that were ill-fitting and damaged. As I gained momentum I became pretty ruthless, and have ended up with one small wardrobe of clothes instead of my previous extra-large wardrobe, one small one and several drawers. My stuff was everywhere, getting ready to go out was a pain, and I had no idea how much it was stressing me out. I’m now left with the beginnings of a capsule wardrobe, with my favourite, well-fitting pieces only. It took quite a while to get to this place, and surprisingly I still have some decluttering to do, but it has been one of the most worthwhile actions I have ever taken.
To quote The Minimalists themselves, “love people and use things, because the opposite never works”.
Over the last few months I have felt a sense of urgency that I couldn’t quite place. I wanted to make changes. I had come out of full time education for the first time in twenty one years; I was feeling an itch that I couldn’t quite scratch, a need to adjust or grow or somehow change both my environs and some of my own patterns.
In January this took the form of a major declutter and cull of my belongings. I was fed-up of stuff and shopping for more stuff and placing so much value on stuff. In March I decided that I wanted to move towards financial freedom and stability, so I increased my savings payroll deductible by 300%.
In April I made a big decision about my health and wellbeing. Having been on some form of hormonal contraception and a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (a form of antidepressant) since I was 19 years old, I decided to come off of both. This was done carefully with much consideration and medical advice, and with the intention of giving my body time to recalibrate.
The most recent change I have made is to attempt to clean up my diet. Some might see this as the logical first step to take when implementing changes, however I tend to rely on food for comfort so often that I didn’t make it until now. My aim in this area is to feel better. I don’t have any significant weight-loss goals in the offing, but I have been feeling so sluggish and bloated lately that I can no longer put off this all too necessary change.
I decided to create this space to write about my experiences as a way to form and centre my thoughts. I have made these changes with the influence of many books, podcasts, blogs, vlogs etc. and would like to be able to curate my own thoughts and figure out what works for me. If you are reading this and you’re not me – hello, you’re very welcome, I did not expect to find you here. I titled this website ‘Craving Less’ as it relates to that sense of urgency and need for action that I felt and continue to feel, however unlike a craving for food or wealth or material items, I am in fact craving less.