9 days to holidays and reflections on finances

Counting down the days till holidays 🙂

I started cleaning my office yesterday, my traditional activity before the holidays. I am 1/3 done and would love to complete it sometime soon. Maybe tomorrow, maybe Friday, but maybe next week. But I will be doing it 🙂

I also started thinking about my budget and life-style for the next year. I can see that unless I become more careful I may not be able to save what I want to save. Last year has been a great teacher for me in terms of finances and my own attitude. 

I learnt that:

1. if I do extreme budgeting I get unhappy and all I think about is spending money. I know that because I tried a pantry challenge or something early in 2017 and restricting my shopping experience was unpleasant and expensive :)))) So I should not restrict my already tight budget

2. Work stress makes me feel like I am entitled to make unnecessary expenses, such as on junk food. This is very silly and I need to work on this

3. I need both short-term and long-term financial goals. My overall calculations are for the entire year, but I would feel much better if I can have a soon-to-be-completed goal so that I can keep my eye on it, strive for it, and eventually feel the satisfaction of completing it. I think I will have to work on this idea to keep me motivated. After all, we can aim all we want but unless it is realistic or reachable, we will lose our hope first and then the intention to reach the goal.

4. While I can spend on junk food and rationalize it, I also continue not to over-spend on grocery or other things, which is strange… This must tell me something. Why do I turn blind to unnecessary expenses, which are often much more than my grocery bill? if I can figure this out, I can figure out many other things…

5. I continue to be not cheap when it comes to socials. I notice that many people do not get that generous with me when I host them, so I want to opt for a smaller thing to take with me to socials; a loaf of bread, a jar of pickle, a baked goods are good options.

6. I stopped picking my colleagues’ bills when we go out together, which is awesome.

7. I still treat my team members with lunches or so time to time; this was 2-4 times a year so far. I think I will make it once year now. I will have to really work on this because I really like celebrating their accomplishments. 

8. It is great to be taking advantage of the sales for items, such as clothes, required each year. This occurs often during October-December. I think one thing I should aim for is to save this money way advance; whether it is thru my fun funds or savings from the expenses that I could easily make but do not (like picking up others’ bills). 

9. Talking about the fun funds, I have never been clear about how to use them last year (fun funds are the money left out of my weekly allowance). I think it is time that I handle this better. I think this year I will replace the term “fun funds” with “weekly savings” and I will use these savings as mortgage pre-payments.

10. I will be on shopping freeze for trousers and jackets this year; the only place to shop for blouses/shirts will be thrift stores. I will continue to buy items that are supposed to be personal, like socks, from regular stores.

– to be continued –

 

what is so nice about shopping freeze and decluttering?

I can answer this question quite easily.

Shopping freeze is a temporary lack of purchase of a specific item(s). For example, I first started with having one on books (that I used to purchase every week) for 2 months only.

At first I did not think I could make it, as it was one of the most beautiful and happy experiences in my life. But I did. This does not mean that I have not occasionally bought books; I have. But not every weekend. Not too many (a maximum 10 books in the last 5 months; which is way lower than 2-3 books/week I used to buy)…

The fact that it was temporary made this possible for me. I knew at the end of 2 months, I was able to return back to this activity. I did not feel deprived of this enjoyable activity. I did not feel restricted for ever. These helped with sticking up with my shopping freeze.

Since I was saving money by not buying books every week and since I was not feeling totally restricted by this, I could continue; I later decided to extend this freeze till the holiday season.

Honestly now I think I will never go back to weekly book purchase habit….I think my habit is now changed and I am rather an occasional book buyer (I still read books though – I have many unread books at home and I am planning to borrow from the library when I am done with them).

After the initial success of this strategy, I extended it to other items; clothes, shoes, cleaning produces, etc. (I had occasionally bought cleaning products during the freeze; if they were on sale or if I needed them). This not only helped me with saving more money, but interestingly I also felt my life was easier now as I did not need to think and decide about shopping these items frequently.

Do you know what else helped?

Decluttering.

I found out the books that I purchased but had not read before during this activity. I found out what cleaning products I have had and what I have not. I found out the clothes I had forgotten I have had. I not only donated or throw away extra stuff from my home, but I also realized how abundant I was and what I had possessed already.

My two cents? Try both of these (decluttering and shopping freeze); they can change your habits should you want. You can also save your money for more important needs, feel appreciative of what you have, and know what you really need – you will not be sorry to try them.

 

 

 

what did decluttering my books teach me?

As part of a few weeks’ decluttering effort, I finally sorted out my books and decided on which ones to keep with me.

I have always been a book lover and as much as I like to read them, I also love to buy books (sometimes even more so than reading them).

Buying books at the nearby second-hand bookstore was a regular weekend activity for me for around 6 years. As soon as I got my breakfast, I would run there, often times with my coffee, and forgot everything while browsing the books. It was a pleasurable and meditative activity, I got to discover awesome books and writers, and going back home with books I knew it would be exciting to read the books.

There were times though I could not find something to my likening; infrequently I left the bookstore without buying any book. But in the rest, I had to buy – I could not stand the thought of a weekend without exploring a book, and the relaxation, and excitement coming out of it.

I know that I have many books that I am assuming I bought to satisfy that impulse – they are not great, they are not exciting, and even sometime the topic does not interest me at all. I now dumped these books. Lessons learnt: I should not buy books if I am not sincerely interested in them; instead I should go check out the books I already have at home now- the ones that I decided to keep are all awesome, timeless books.

It is great that I wanted to declutter my house, that I went thru each of my books and now know them better, and that I have a shopping freeze for books till the holiday season. After seeing the amount of books I purchased and dumped today, I felt bad about piling them around my home and wasting money on them. Do net get me wrong; I think any book can be awesome for someone, somewhere, sometime; but the ones I sorted out were not meant for me.

Happy decluttering, happy appreciating what you have and enjoy, and happy saving money 🙂

That just sounds perfect to me.

shopping freeze items – August 2015

Going thru my stuff, both decluttering and taking an inventory, was a real eye-opener.

I have so many stuff that will be enough for at least a year that I gotta keep a list of them to have my conscious and unconscious minds taking notes and to apply a shopping freeze.

Here are the items for which I will apply a shopping freeze till the holiday season (I cannot miss the sales taking place during the holiday season :)):

1. Books: every once a while an interesting and affordable book is fine. Other than that, no regular purchases. Books, my ever-lasting love, have been the first items I have had on shopping freeze and it has been going well 🙂

2. Trousers: except I get really good deals. I have so many trousers that I have not even used yet that it is ridiculous to go buy another one.

3. Boots and shoes: I seem to have stocked up shoes and boots. I cannot believe I have so many of them sitting on my shoe shelf.

4. Shirts and jackets: I have more than enough to last another year. Unless I find something really nice and with a small price tag, none will be purchased.

5. Socks, t-shirts, sports pants, and others: Another category of items I seem to have well stocked up. Nope – will not buy one.

6. Cleaning products; laundry detergent, dish detergent, hand soap, shampoo, and other personal care products: I just need to purchase toilet papers, hair conditioner, and hair dye.

7. Stationary items: None needed – pens, notebooks, and paper are all stocked up.

8. Rice, dry food (beans, chickpeas), dried veggies, tomato paste, spices, tea, coffee, creamer: I just need turmeric and maybe creamer – others are more than I can consume off in a year.

9. Kitchen items, cleaning clothes, sponges, and others: Only need bleach – nothing else.

10. Furniture and home decor: Would like to buy 2-3 art-work. Things that will bring joy and excitement to me.

11. Bed linens, towels, and others: None needed.

The list seems great to me. I was first upset about having too many sponges, cleaning clothes, paper towels etc, but now I can see that was done well as I shop them when they are on sale. And they are durable – so I can keep using them for some time. I am thanking myself for making these purchases earlier.

And from the list I can see that I have a small list of items to purchase in the coming weeks, which is alright (I like shopping, right? 🙂 ).

These lists also tell me that the majority of my future expenses (at least till the new year) will be on food, mostly vegetables, fruits, yogurt, eggs, beef and chicken (aaaand maybe some bread please? :).

I should invest in the pressure cooker real soon to cook beans at home (getting rid of can will be a delight for me) and to make my overall cooking efforts easier and more accomplishable.

Let’s see how this plan will go 🙂

cheers everyone

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