Trimming the Stuff-Fat

My last blog post in 2017 was about my intention of holding back on unnecessary purchases in 2018 - and I am still quite serious about it. During our trip to London over New Year's, I realized two of my
biggest weaknesses are:
- vacation shopping, and
- boredom shopping

In the past, I have often dedicated a whole day to shopping when on vacation. I'm not really sure when this 'tradition' came about but it has been my thing. We only had 4 days in London and the city was crazy crowded. For some reason, I had absolutely no desire to go shopping. I only bought some supplements at Whole Foods, which is a store I loved in the US and doesn't exist in Austria. I was waiting for that 'feeling of missing out' to set in for not roaming through the shops, when walking past the shopping area, however, I got so distracted by all the sights I wanted to see that experiences became more important than things.  Sure, it would have been much easier to spend the day at the mall than in line at Madame Tussaud's when it was raining cats and dogs but in the end, it was the better choice. We had a lot of fun.

The second test came when our flight home was delayed by an hour. I put my book in my checked bag because my husband had downloaded two episodes of Black Mirror from Netflix for us to watch on the flight and I figured there would not be any time for reading. But what to do at the airport for over an hour? You can only drink so much coffee and the food is bad and overpriced. In the past, I would have boredom-shopped my way through the bookstore (another book, another notepad, another magazine) and the clothing stores (another t-shirt, another scarf). Not this time. Instead, I asked my husband to make sure I don't buy anything - although he is much more of an impulse buyer than I am (that's why we had a clothes steamer that was only used 4 times) - and I posted in my online no-shopping-in-2018 group. Members were chiming in to send me strength. And guess what, I didn't even buy a frickin' pen. And I have no regrets. I don't feel like I missed out. Instead, I feel in control!

Over the weekend, I sat down and made a month-by-month list of what my big, planned expenses will be in 2018. This list does not include the basics of rent, food or utilities but other big expenses I know I will incur. And let me tell you: it was a humbling experience. Everything seemed so far away in my mind but putting it on ePaper made me realize there is something almost every month that is a big expense:
- surgery for my cat
- my annual public transportation pass
- the reading glasses I will need for the first time this year
- my birthday trip
- a bridesmaid's dress
- our fall vacation
- my annual teeth cleaning
- going to the hairdresser (while a minor expense for a man, it can be a fortune for a woman)

Sure, not all of these are essentials but they are all things that I am happy to spend money on. They are either something I need or give me great joy, so I am not willing to cut any of the above.

Nonetheless, I need - or want - to cut in other places. So here is my action plan for 2018:
- no more mani/pedis unless I have a special occasion coming up
- no new clothes or shoes until September - except the bridesmaid's dress and accessories
- no more boredom shopping!!!!!
- unsubscribing from store mailing lists
- no more make-up unless I actually run out
- when I feel the urge to online shop, I play with my cat instead
- less eating out
- not ordering an alcoholic beverage when eating out
- not ordering a dessert when eating out
- go to the gym to tire myself out and keeping myself out of stores - including online stores
- no more rewarding myself with a pastry on the way home from work (this one will be hard...)
- not buying any new books before I've finished the current one
- and most importantly... asking myself before every purchase whether I really need this or merely want it.

I am posting this publicly in order to keep me accountable and to stay on track. I also printed my month-by-month big items list and hung it up in my home office to remind me to keep the eyes on the prize. If you have any advice, please share it!

Wish me luck!

If you are now thinking of also cutting back this year, here is a little TED video for inspiration:


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