One Month Challenge: Shopping Ban, Week Four

Before the big clean-out. And this is only one half.

Everyone’s got a vice, a bad habit, something they know they need to change. Unfortunately, everyone also has a million excuses why they just can’t do it. Not anymore. Every month we will be following a different CollegeCandy writer as she takes on a personal challenge. This month we’re following Kelly as she proves to her mom, and her wallet, that she can go one month sans shopping.

Finally, the last week of my challenge. I never thought I’d get here without sneaking around UrbanOutfitters.com at midnight to get my window shopping fix (Okay, so maybe I did it once. Or twice.), but here I am. And surprisingly, I’m not counting down until 11:59pm, April 30th with my credit card in my hand.

In other words, it was a successful month. There was a lot more to be learned than just limiting my purchases of white shirt after white shirt after white…you get the picture. Keeping track of all of my expenses was much more eye opening than I thought.

According to my paychecks (assuming that they are correct) there are literally hundreds of dollars that I can’t account for, because Starbucks here and there is never really Starbucks here and there. Every coffee, Jimmy Johns sandwich, tequila shot, etc., adds up to a pretty shocking number in the end.  For me, the purpose of keeping tabs on my expenses this month was solely to see how much I spend without a budget. Now that I know how much I’m spending on going out every week, I can make an accurate budget to keep me from ever spending that much again. Sure, I’ll have to switch from Martini Night to $1 Draft night, but after pre-gaming, Skol tastes the same as Grey Goose anyway.

Since for some reason 90% of the people I know here left for the weekend, I spent a good majority of Sunday cleaning out my closet. I found a hidden stash of cheesy t-shirts (The Beets Killer Tofu Tour, anybody?) and a great deal of things I forgot I even had. After a load of laundry, there are six “new” free shirts hanging next to “new” jeans, and a huge bag of stuff for the local Goodwill. Another pro: I was able to make a list of things I actually needed, like flats without holes forming around the big toe, instead of just going back to the world of shopping with some crazy bedazzled thing I’ll never wear.

I got a lot of comments from you ladies wanting to do the same challenge but didn’t think you could. Believe me, I didn’t think I could either. But it’s not as hard as it seems, promise! Just remember these few things:

1. Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you caved on a new pair of shoes, don’t throw your whole challenge away!
2. Don’t go too extreme! Cutting out all unnecessary spending (ie: anything except groceries and rent) was not an option. But leaving your debit card at home and only keeping $20 on you for nights out is definitely reasonable for anybody.
3. Wait to click “submit order.” If you really love something, wait to order it and if after a few days you’re still thinking about it, get it. The wait will ensure that you think the shirt/skirt/etc is worth the money and will fit nicely within your current wardrobe.
4. Don’t go back to your old ways as soon as it’s done. After a month though, you’ll never want to.  With all of the money you’ll save over the course of a few months you’ll be able to pay for next year’s Spring Break trip to Cabo.

Well, the easy part of my challenge is over: next comes the budgeting part. Thanks for all of your support (I was able to please my mom!) and advice. We’ll have a new lady sharing her challenge next month, but I’m definitely not done with this one yet. Wish me luck!

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