Charged Up! podcast: Stop shopping for one year

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Episode 55 with author, blogger Cait Flanders

 



Fed up with her debt, inability
to save and loss of control of her finances, Cait Flanders decided to challenge
herself: She would not shop at all for one year, which she documented in her
book, “The Year of Less.”

In this episode, Flanders talks about how she
strategized her shopping ban, how it affected her finances and where she is now
when it comes to her financial health.

If you’re also fed up with all the money going
out on purchases you know you don’t need, then get Charged Up! about learning
how to live on less.

Transcript: 

Jenny Hoff:  Cait, thanks so much for
joining me today.

Cait Flanders:  No, I’m so glad to be doing
this. Thank you for having me.

Hoff:  So let’s start with how you embarked on this
journey in the first place. You had a history with debt and I guess in some way
self-control when it came to a healthy lifestyle and shopping, which you
explain in your book. Probably something that many people feel – unhappiness in
one area of our lives can often lead to a loss of control in another area of
our lives as we try to compensate for what we’re missing, and then we end up of
course digging ourselves into a bigger and bigger and bigger hole. So tell us
some of your back-story and how you came to the decision to just cut out
shopping for one whole year?

Flanders:  Yeah, OK, so because there’s so many things
I could jump in there. So, we’ll talk about the spend and the shopping. So
yeah, I mean I was someone who when I got my first credit card when I was 19
years old I basically just started using it like it was a second bank account,
like it was just free money and that if I didn’t have the cash to pay for
something then at least I had credit.

And I lived that way or like to
use credit that way until I was 25, so about six years or so. And at that point
I was maxed out with almost $30,000 of debt which other than about $4,000 which
was school like all the rest of that was just consumer debt.

And so I was a kind of person
like it’s funny, and I think some people assume because I talk about the idea
of not shopping for a year that, “Oh, you must have been such a
shopaholic.” And that’s also not true. I just think that I was a mindless
consumer.

So anytime I would hear about
something that sounded like interesting or I thought it might help or some way
where I’m like, “Oh, that sound like a project that I would love to
tackle.” I would just immediately buy it without thinking, like it was so
quick to sort of take that action, like you’re just like, “Yeah, I totally
want to do that.” You quickly talk yourself into it and just make the
purchase or make the swipe. And I just did that for years.

And so it was interesting because
from 25 to 27 I was just really strict with myself, and ended up paying off my
debt in two years. But after that I sort of just went right back to spending
all my money. So I didn’t go back into debt but I went back to basically
spending everything.

So at the beginning of every
month I would tell myself I wanted to save 20 percent for retirement, and I would get
to the end of every month and be like, “Wow, I’ve saved 5 to 10
percent.” 10 percent was like a max. And when I paid off my debt every
month, I was putting up to 55 percent of my income towards it.

So like every month when I would
see I had barely saved anything I’m like, “I know I can do better.”
And like I genuinely want to do better, I want to save more.

So, fortunately I was checking my
spending all that time, so I could look at my budgets and every month I was
like looking at it and saying, “Am I happy with these numbers? Or what
could I have done differently?” And after a year of that I was debt-free,
but after a year of still not being that great with at least saving. I had no
habit really of saving. That’s when I decided that not only did I want to save
more but I could also at that point kind of look around my home and be like,
“I have enough, like I have books to read, like I have tons that I still
haven’t even read.”

Pretty much all I do in my spare
time is like spend time outside, read books, watch Netflix anyways. So I’m
like, “I don’t really need anything more.” And so I was like,
“I’m going to try this.” I sort of had no idea what I was doing at
first, like I set all these rules for it but I kind of just jumped into it.

Hoff:  And so what were the rules that you set for
it? What were the things you were allowed to buy the things that you were not
allowed to buy?

Flanders:  So the things I’m allowed to buy were, like let’s
call them consumables. Groceries, gas for my car, any toiletry that I ran out
of and then needed more of. All the regular things just once I ran out of it
then, yes, I could buy more.

And I was able to come up with
this list of like a couple of things I knew I would need, so I had been invited
to like five weddings that year, and like I’m a total tomboy, I don’t own
dresses or own things that are appropriate for that. So I was like, “I’ll
buy one outfit that I wear to all of the weddings.” 

And I also knew that if I could
afford it I really wanted to replace my bed. My bed was like, gosh, like
13 years old at that time and I knew that if I could save the money that
was something that was really important to me. Anyways, so things like that so
I could not buy then basically anything that I didn’t actually need. 

I could not buy books. I didn’t
need books. I had 55 I think that I hadn’t even read. And I don’t read 55 every
year at the moment. I don’t need books, I don’t need magazines, I don’t need
any electronics, I don’t need clothes, shoes, accessories. 

I also added takeout coffee to
that list, and I’m not someone who’s like, “Oh, like the latte factor, you
need to cut out coffee.” I don’t abide by any of that. For me, I work from
home and I was still spending like over $100 a month on takeout coffee, and I
just wasn’t comfortable with that anymore. I was like, “I make good coffee
at home. I can figure this out.” 

Hoff:  Yeah, so it was really kind of cutting out
mainly mindless impulse buys. And when I say that I think it’s now easier than
ever, we’ve got Amazon one-click shopping, so the minute you think of something
even at two in the morning and you wake up and you think, “Oh, I’d love to
have that.” And you buy it, and it’s done, right? And so it’s at your
house.

So, there’s not even the effort
anymore to have to leave your house and get in the car and go to a place to
shop for things. So, it’s easier than ever to really buy kind of on a whim
instead of really knowing, “I need this, and I want this, and this is what
I want it for.” So I found your book fascinating in that sense because in
today’s digital age it’s so easy to just spend and not think about it.

Flanders:  Oh, and I would just add to that that it’s
getting even worse, like there are things now that Instagram is going to make
it that you can shop in the app.

Hoff:  Oh, wow. 

Flanders:  And like there’s just all kinds of stuff. So I
would just say it’s going to get even worse. And stuff like that too it’s like
they’re showing you ads for stuff that you’ve never knew you wanted. But now
not only do you think you want it, but you can buy it right away.

Hoff:  Right, or on Facebook, they know your
activity, they know the things that you’re interested in, they know what you
looked at. And so every ad is targeted at you. I even hazard to say that
they’re listening to what you’re saying, because I’ll mention something in the
second.

Flanders:  I know.

Hoff:  I see an ad on Facebook exactly for that
thing. And I know I had not searched for it online. So it’s becoming where
consuming is going to be so second nature now that if we don’t do almost
something as extreme as you did saying, “Okay, I’m just going to cut it,
so there’s not even that temptation.” It can get really easily out of
control, and consumer debt is on the rise again and we don’t want to be in that
situation again. 

So I was interested because I
think that you publicly shared this on your blog, and you basically put your
whole journey out there for everybody to see – your failures, your successes,
and how you were feeling and thinking throughout that entire process. How
important was that for you do you think in sticking with it? 

Flanders:  Oh, it was essential. And it’s the same way;
honestly, I think about this a lot like I also documented getting out of debt
on my blog. And I used to back then think like if I didn’t have to report these
things, because I used to do these things I would just share my weekly spending
report which was literally a list of everything I spent money on that week. And
knowing I was going to publish that stopped me from making certain purchases
back then. 

And so, I think it was hugely
important and general it’s definitely advice I would always give people now,
not that you need to have a public blog where you’re telling thousands of
people. But that you are talking about it with someone.

I also think like in general
that’s something that helps me make decisions, like if I can talk it out with
five or ten people before I make the decision. So I do, I think it’s really
important to have even if it’s just one person, someone who you can kind of
always talk to.

And it does help if you have a
friend who you can tell them, like tell me when I’m being stupid or tell me,
like you’re allowed to tell me if I’m wrong, like just I need you to kind of
put me in my place sometimes. Because I did, I feel fortunate I had one friend
during the shopping ban who I would text her the most ridiculous things that I
was sometimes thinking of buying, and she was so good about being like,
“You don’t need it. You’re doing great.” And she can just laugh at me
and be like, “You’re being ridiculous. Like you don’t need all new bedding
just because you think you need a new sheet.”

Hoff:  Right, exactly. Exactly, and that’s what you
need is somebody who’s going to keep it real with you. And they say that even
when you’re wanting to lose weight or get in shape or whatever, if you have
somebody there to say, “Hey, come on you can do this. You don’t need that
cookie; you don’t need to skip the gym today: go.”

I think that we don’t think we
need sometimes that support, but it becomes very crucial when you’re doing
something that tests your willpower every single second of the day. 

Flanders:  Yeah, I couldn’t agree with that more. I used
to go to the gym probably five days a week first thing in the morning. And then
as soon as the girlfriend who I used to go with stopped going, I then went two
times a week. It was so much harder without that motivation, yeah. 

Hoff:  Accountability, you definitely need that. And
so how did your journey begin? You said, “Okay, for twelve months I’m not
going shop anymore except for these necessities that I’ve written down.”
How did it begin? Did you have full confidence starting out, thinking, “No
problem. I’m going to do this. I’ve done things before.” Or did you not
have a lot of confidence? Like how did that journey kind of grow?

Flanders:  OK, so I will say for the first month I was
feeling pretty good. Honestly, the only thing that came up in the first couple
months was I realized how many habits I had around for me – take out coffee and
buying books. And so everyone’s vices are different, right? Like the things
that everyone spends money on is different and personal, and so but for me
those were my two.

So I had all kinds of habits
around like when I would get the feeling during the day, especially working
from home and you don’t have co-workers, I had a habit of then going down to the
coffee shop in my building. And so every time you’d feel that, you’re like,
“Oh, time to go.” You’re just like, “Wait. No. I have to do something
else.”

And so books were the same. I was
someone who any time I thought or like I heard of a book or just thought I
wanted to read it one day, I would buy it immediately, even though I like I
said I had 55 I hadn’t even read before. And so I would buy it immediately and
then I would add another one to the cart just so I could get free shipping back
then. And so, like every couple weeks I would have two books showing up.

And so I was still confident, but
I was like, “Wow, like it’s really hard to change habits that you almost
don’t even realize that you have until you’re not allowed to do them.” So
the confidence, like I felt good in the first month, two months.

But throughout the year I
definitely went through different personal situations that tested it I’ll say. So
I went through a breakup in the fall of that year, and realized a lot about the
fact that even though I sort of didn’t think I was someone who used to or like
use shopping as a form of retail therapy or retail therapy as a form of therapy
or whatever, I was. I was definitely an emotional spender.

And so, during that period of
time just realizing, “OK, like am I even going to be able to get through
this?” And having to figure out what to do instead, which is really just
you have to feel things. Like what I didn’t want to do was feel things. I
didn’t want to be sad or stressed out or have any kind of anxiety, and so I
thought for all those years that buying something or you treat yourself or
whatever that that would somehow help, and instead you have to do the hard work
of actually dealing with the breakup.

And my parents also got divorced
that year which was even harder, because it was something I had never expected
to go through. That one was even harder.

So there were like different
challenges throughout the year that’s really showed me, and kind of going back
to what you said at the very beginning of why I used to not only shop but why I
used to drink too much and binge eat. There are reasons. And so when you then
are dealing with them in the middle of this challenge that you’re doing, the
confidence it definitely wavered a little, more just because you can see that
it’s going to be hard.

Hoff:  Yeah, and I think that’s something that is
probably a big wake up call for most of us. And you don’t really think of
certain things as issues or problems or those they’re really time fillers or to
numb the emotions. And then when you are exactly doing a challenge like this
you realize how much time you spend on doing seemingly useless activities, like
just shopping and kind of buying things for no reason. I mean, you can get a
million boxes from Amazon coming to your door and not even realize what you had
ordered and not even know what’s in those boxes half the time, especially
during the holiday season.

There’s that sense of it’s like
when you eat too much junk food and you feel sick afterwards and you say,
“I never want to eat junk food again.” I think that especially after
this holiday season where everybody shopped their guts out and got lots of
stuff and spent way too much money, put way too much money on their credit
cards. It’s almost that sense of now cleansing and that’s what I love about
your book; it’s saying, “Okay, I’m going to go the opposite direction now
and get away from all that consumerism.”

So you also not only stop buying
stuff but I thought it was interesting you started downsizing what you already
had. So you started going through your house and really taking stock of what
you had and what was weighing you down. And so tell me all about that and how
did that come up and did that help you? Was that a new release for you?

Flanders:  Yeah, so I started actually both at the exact
same time. So I was like I think I called it like this is the year I’m going to
embrace minimalism. And now it’s been a few years since I started that process.
So now I’m sort of like, “Wow, that was really just like kind of intense
of me, because it’s really counterintuitive.” You’re like not only am I
not allowed to shop for things, but I’m also going to get rid of the majority
of my belongings.

In a lot of ways it doesn’t make
sense, and I will also say being on the other side of that now realizing that
that’s not a situation that everyone can do and that there is some privilege in
being able to choose to live less. So I just think it’s worth acknowledging
that.

But going back to just like how
much my misspending I used to do and all of the books that I never read, at the
same time of starting with shopping ban decided to just go through and get rid
of anything that I, like you said not only I didn’t use or didn’t need but that
was weighing me down. And what I mean by that are things like all the stuff I
had purchased for sort of just like idealized version of myself.

So I used to buy things like
creative projects that I kind of like a more interesting or talented version of
myself would do. So I bought like a DSLR camera and I’m like, “I’m going
to get into photography.” And I bought stuff for like scrapbooking and I’m
like, “Perfect, I did like three pages and then never touched it
again.”

And some of these are things that
I carried around for years, like the scrapbooking stuff I think I got when I
was 19 and I didn’t de-clutter until I was 29. So for 10 years I’ve been
carrying.

Hoff:  You’ve kept the hope alive.

Flanders:  Yes, but every time I’d look at it not only
did I know I actually had no interest in doing it, but you feel bad because
you’ve spent the money, so you’re almost holding on to it out of like guilt.
And so it was really a lesson in the kind of looking at a lot of things like
that, because there’s others. too. like the clothes I used to be able to fit when
I was like 10 or 15 pounds lighter or whatever. And even if I were to
lose the weight I’m like, “As a woman as you get older your body changes.
It may not even fit you anyway.”

Hoff:  Right, yeah, exactly. Or you may want
something that’s now trendier or that’s in fashion again five years later.

Flanders:  Totally. So there were all kind of been like
that going through my home where I was like, “I have to let go of
this.” Like especially the stuff that you’re holding onto just because you
spent money on it one day. One of those things where it’s like it’s already a
sunk cost, like you’ve already paid for it and you’ve already paid it off,
hopefully. And so like what more can you pay? Like if now all you’re paying is
in guilt, that’s awful.

It feels good actually if you can
then donate it somewhere where someone could actually use it, because at least
someone can enjoy it. Every object is meant to be utilized, right? And so if
you can give it to someone who can use it instead then like its purpose is
actually being fulfilled. And so it slowly, like it took time, but as you start
releasing some of those things you then walk into your home and you’re like,
“OK, this home and like the things in it actually reflect who I am, and
so I’m not feeling weighted down by the guilt of all these things that I’m not
doing.”

Hoff:  And I think even that process, while you said
it was kind of an extreme process that you went through, I think that it’s a
very important process if you do want to let’s say just give up shopping for a
year. If somebody’s listening to this and they say, “I need to do that
same thing right now. I need to get out of debt. I need to stop buying
stuff.” I think actually going through your house and really finding what
was the purpose of this, why did I buy this, why didn’t I use this, who else could
use this is a good encouragement to remind you of all the stuff that you bought
that at one time you thought was really necessary, and didn’t end up being used
at all by you.

And it’s a good reminder when you
think about swiping your card again that, “Wait a second, I just got rid
of a house full of stuff I never used.” I think that was actually a really
good idea to do those two together because it validated what your mission was.

Flanders:  Yeah, no, and I would never change it. And for
all the reasons that you just said, also for anyone if they are thinking of
doing something similar, if you don’t want to actually like de-clutter and let
everything go, a simpler step that people can take is to literally just go
through your home, and go through every single room, write down the five things
you own the most of. So like in your bedroom it could be like t-shirts,
underwear, socks, pants, I don’t know, whatever.

But the five things that you own
the most of and write down how many you have. Because throughout the year, like
you don’t need to maintain that, but like at the beginning if you write down
that information and know that kind of like stuff, like for me knowing I had 55
books that I hadn’t even read, it then helped me all year as like remind
myself, “Oh, I don’t need more.”

So whenever I would think about
buying I’m like, “No, like we’ve done the math on this. We have counted
this up. I do not need more.” And so it just can really help just sort of
a visual tool throughout it.

Hoff:  Yeah, absolutely. How important was it to have
friends and family support you on this goal? Like how much does it set you back
if somebody doesn’t support you or says, “Oh, come on, let’s just go
shopping.” Or if you’re trying to work out, “Come on, let’s just go
out and have fun. Let’s have a few drinks, let’s eat dinner.”

Flanders:  It’s really important. And I will say it like
I had a few friends who not like they weren’t supportive, but like I had
friends who didn’t get it. So they would be confuse the whole thing and maybe
like not invite me to dinner. And then I’d hear everyone went out for dinner,
I’m like, “I could have gone to that.” And they’re just like,
“Oh, I just like assumed you couldn’t.” I’m like, “Yeah, like
that’s not what the goal is here.”

The goal is actually to spend
more time with people, not like I want to go to restaurants all the time. But
still I’m like, “I could have done that.” And so I think there were a
few moments, because those moments kind of hurt my feelings. I’m like,
“I’m left out now. And actually I could have done that thing.”

Hoff:  Right.

Flanders:  That sucks. But it is important to have some
people who understand it, because not only can I help you keep you on track
like we’re talking about the accountability part. But it’s so interesting and I
think for me as time went on to then realize if you had friends who supported
it, and for me this is a lifelong thing now where I’ve realized it really
changed my values. And so it’s really important to find people who share the
same values as you.

And because not only does your
relationship have the potential to go a lot deeper than just like, “Hey,
let’s go shopping.” But I would say by the end of that year I felt like I
had stronger friendships than I had ever had before, because we just in general
like bonded at like a new level.

And some of these were friends I
had probably shopped within the past or like, I don’t know, but it’s just once
you start suggesting like, “Hey, let’s do something else.” Like for
starters in general with that, most people are very willing to save money, if
you’re just willing to be the person to suggest it, so most people are happy to
do something else.

So no, I think, I mean, I did get
to the end of it feeling like it was a win all around, and definitely with
friendships. There were a few who sort of you let go but you’re like, “If
what we were bonding over was just shopping and exchanging stories on like how
to save money. That’s not a priority for me anymore. So I would love to still
see you, like if we could change what we do. But that’s nothing that I’m going
to partake in any more.”

Hoff:  Absolutely. It’s like if you’re wanting to
quit drinking you’re not going to go out to the bars with your friends, you’re
going to go hiking with your friends or do something else.

Flanders:  Well, and that’s also my life now.

Hoff:  Yeah, exactly. It’s changing the temptations.
Just don’t put yourself in a situation where you know it’s going to be testing
you to break it. And that goes into my next question which is really like what
were kind of your best practices to stay on track? And I would say for myself
if I were to start doing this I’d say, “Okay, first thing I needed to do
unsubscribe from every shop that somehow they have my e-mail address and
they’re sending me deals every day about sales or new items in there. Just unsubscribe
from all of that, maybe limit social media so you’re not being targeted with
ads all the time.” What were some of your best practices to just keep your
mind focused and not be tempted?

Flanders:  There were a few things. So the overarching of
like what you just said is definitely to stop caring about sales. And also
because sale prices in general like we’re sold on the idea that like we’re
never going to see it at that price again.

But sales are cyclical, they
happen all the time. And on average like maybe not at Black Friday or
something, but on average throughout the year if you see something that’s
slightly discounted, you’ll on average see it at that price again within 45
days. So just stop looking, but also stop being sold on the idea that you have
to buy it right now because it’s cheaper.

To go along with that, like you
said, the first thing I did not only unsubscribe from e-mails but unfollowed
all retailers on social media. And I remember feeling these weird like moments
of guilt almost in doing it because I’m like, “I love these stores.”
And like I don’t know, I felt like I needed to be loyal to them or something.

But like a store isn’t loyal to
you, right, unless you spend on lot of money with, and like they’re just not,
they’re not loyal to you. And so unfollowing, because you’re still going to see
it in targeted ads like you said, but like you can opt out of it.

I also stopped following any
account that felt very curated. So if someone who’s just constantly posting
pictures of their beautiful home or the stuff that they have. I unfollowed all
of those because it does just make you look at things, like even now I will
find I don’t like to ever post pictures of the inside of my home, because
people will immediately gravitate to these questions, “Oh, where’s that
couch from? Oh, where’s that rug from? Where did you get your lamp?”

And there’s just something in it.
And not that I don’t want, like if people are really drawn to those things,
sure, like have it’d be part of your life. But I’m like, “I don’t want
people to think not only that they need to have what I have, but I just want
them to get out of that cycle of thinking like that we should be looking at
what other people have.”

Hoff:  Right.

Flanders:  Don’t. Like it’s so much more important to
just look at what you already have and start to feel grateful for some of that.
So unsubscribing, unfollowing, and then I want to step further with that also
which was I used to keep a lot of bookmarks for things I thought I would want.
So books or furniture or whatever, I deleted all my bookmarks.

Because again it keeps you
thinking like, “Oh, I’ll buy that one day.” Like it’s just really
like doing everything you can to sort of get it out of your head that like
shopping is even part of your life, like to just stop thinking about the more
stuff you can bring and really just like adopting different habits where it’s
just about appreciating what you already have.

Hoff:  Absolutely, and it’s interesting, I lived in
Germany for five years and I found it really frustrating in the beginning
because there are no stores open on Sundays. And it’s kind of more that old
school thing Sunday’s a religious day, but it was a day for family, right? And
so stores are not open on Sundays and you just can’t go shopping.

And I remember at first when we
got there, the Americans, we just couldn’t believe it. We couldn’t believe that
half of the weekend we couldn’t go shopping, we couldn’t buy anything. What
were we going to do?

And eventually you start to kind
of appreciate it, and in a sense it was we went hiking or we just met out for
coffee and talk or we went to a museum, and all of those things that you
wouldn’t have done because you would have been shopping instead. That’s just an
easy way to pass time on a weekend.

And so I’m not saying it’s not a
possibility, but I kind of like adopting that habit even now back in the United
States where Sunday should just, one day at least should be reserved for doing
something completely non-consumerist.

Flanders:  I love that. I this year moved to a really
small town, and nothing really opens until like 9 or 10:00, like all the little
stores and stuff. Like nothing opens till 10, even on weekdays, because like
even though they do obviously make their living by running their store like the
whole town sort of feels like it has that value of they would rather spend time
with people and spend time with people outside. So work is almost secondary.

So for me it’s like as a consumer
it’s like the consumption part, that’s secondary, like when you need stuff,
yeah, go get it, but like we’re not open all day every day because you don’t
need to be shopping all day every day.

Hoff:  Absolutely. So, if someone were wanting to
attempt the same thing that you did or at least dramatically reduce their
spending, what are three things that they could do right now to get started?

Flanders:  I mean, so first stuff I always say no one
needs to set or like try and take on a year. I think that that was a lot.

Hoff:  But you know what? You’ve got $30,000 in
consumer debt, maybe a year’s a good amount of time to make sure you’re not
adding to that.

Flanders:  Oh, absolutely. Yeah, no, I’m always just like
some people, or it’s like a very common piece of feedback I get like that a
year feels too long and too restrictive. So I would say like immediate things
for anyone sort of wanting to save more and just change their financial
situation is to start tracking your spending, which I know is like very common
personal finance advice. But there’s a reason for that.

Like I, sometimes I mean I always
take it a little step further than that where you’re not just writing down the
number, but then asking yourself like, “Are you happy with how much you
spend and what you spent it on?” And just like these constant little
check-ins, because eventually over time the things that you’re not actually
getting a lot of value from, the more you’re telling yourself that, you will
slowly just start to not want to spend money on that stuff anyway.

So that’s like a first one. I
would say it’s not an immediate effect, but what we’ve just said of like
unsubscribing from everything, unfollowing stores, all of that. It’s not like
it immediately putting money back into your account, but it is going to stop
you from being so tempted.

Oh, and actually just another
like along those lines, stop reading posts sort of like the ten best whatever
this month or the ten best, like ten top things we sold this year. Don’t read
those. Just ignore all those blog posts you see out there about stuff like
that.

Hoff:  I’d say unsubscribe from Amazon. Honestly, I
think that’s the biggest problem for people right now. It’s just too easy to
shop almost.

Flanders:  Yeah, I think like if you’re not comfortable
with how much you’re spending or how easy it is, I would actually just say you
don’t have to like unsubscribe but like maybe you don’t need to be a prime
member or whatever. I think the other part just in general, because I am not
anti any store obviously, I would say though as a whole when you are about to
spend money, really pay attention to how it feels, if you can’t, like even
before you make the purchase.

I think that I was someone who
looking back definitely I was leading up to being maxed out, when I used to
swipe my credit card and I knew I was getting close to being maxed out, every
time I was about to make a purchase I did have that like gut instinct like,
“Oh, my gosh. I shouldn’t do this, like I shouldn’t be spending this
money. I don’t even know what the balance is on anything right now, like this
could go really wrong, I can get declined. I don’t want to deal with
that.”

If you’re feeling stressed about making those purchases, don’t
make the purchases.
Try and
stop it before it even happens, because I think that there’s so much confidence
even that can come from trusting your own gut.

And knowing like you’re just
trying to help yourself, like the reason that you’re telling yourself those
things in your head is because you know it’s not great, and you don’t want it
to get to the worst, you don’t want to get declined and then you don’t want to
be maxed out. So try and stop it before you’re even getting there.

Hoff:  Now that it’s all over, how do you feel about
your ability to control your spending?

Flanders:  Oh, I feel, yeah, I feel great. I did it for a
year, that’s what the time of the book is. But when I finished it I actually
ended up going on and doing it for a second year.

Hoff:  Oh, wow.

Flanders:  So I did it for two full years. And I would
still say like I don’t consider myself to be on one, but it does feel like a
lifestyle in that the way I make spending decisions is just very intentional
and not impulse. So I will never, like I just, I don’t even feel that need,
like if I were to walk into a store and see something I can now because it’s
been so long, like I can look at something and if someone’s like, “Oh,
that’s so beautiful or how cute is this.” I’m like, “Yeah, like it’s
cute.” But I know I don’t need it, and so I’m not tempted.

I think like the biggest, I
guess, actually it is like just another tip is like I now like I have to feel
the need for something multiple times before I will buy it. So something
actually needs to annoy me like multiple times, I need to really know that it
is going to kind of solve a need or actually help me in some way. 

And I was telling a friend this
recently, like one of the examples is so silly but it’s real, like the place
that I live in now, I would never normally buy like a coat rack. But the place
that I live in now it is so awkward to open the closet, like they made the
hallway too small, the builders were not think when they did it. So like the
door bangs on things and scratches things, like I just basically don’t use that
closet.

And so I use to leave my coat all
over the place. And I was like, “I could just spend 5 or $10 and fix this
problem.” And so that is like it felt good to make that purchase, because
I actually use it every single day.

Hoff:  Yeah, absolutely. And finally, our show is
called Charged Up! What gets you charged up about testing your willpower and
getting control of bad habits?

Flanders:  What a great question. I think, so I will say
like I’ve had people just say like I’m like the queen of being intentional,
because I’m usually very slow and deliberate with like the decisions that I
make. But I think in working that way I love like when I get to a place where I
can make that decision, because I know it’s going to be so right for me.

So it is like you think about it
20 times before you actually do it, and whatever, like I do go through all of
those stages, but once I just get that feeling, once it feels like this is
really going to be something. And yeah, it’s going to be challenging and it’s
not going to be easy throughout all of it, and I probably will want to give up
on it at some point. Just knowing that like I’m so set on maybe not feeling the
way I have been feeling, and just so excited about what it could be like on the
other side of that.

Hoff:  Absolutely.

Flanders:  Once I make the decision I’m ready to go. 

Hoff:  Absolutely, and before we leave I want to
mention that your website caitflanders.com, you guys have a mindful budgeting
2018 planner, where you have it organized so people can help control their
spending and write down what they’re buying every day, and those kind of
things. So I think that’s really interesting. 

If somebody’s looking to follow
this then definitely check out her website as well, check out her website as
well because there’s a lot of great information, and your blog is up there,
your whole journey as well as this budgeting planner and a lot of tools that
can help this be a success.

Thank
you so much, Cait, for joining me today.

Flanders:  This is so much fun. Thank you so much.

See related: Charged Up! podcast: How to live debt-free, Charged Up! podcast: The art of stretching




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