The hardest things

This may seem like whining, and as I write it I’m thinking, I should just really focus on the positive things like how AWESOME I”M DOING SO FAR! But I was thinking it might help others to share what are the challenges for me and my brain in making this big switch from online retail therapy to….Not online retail therapy. I haven’t figured out anything to fill it with yet.

At the beginning of this I went through my email and unsubscribed from the places I shop online with most often. My rationale in signing up for these emails in the first place is: “If I’m going to shop, I might as well get it on sale”, because these places have sales SOOO often that it’s ridiculous to pay full price. HOWEVER, as we all know. when something is on sale it creates that sense of URGENCY (sorry, I really love capital letters, just ask my mom) that “Oh my goodness, what a great deal, I can’t pass that up!” even if it’s something we don’t really need. I did this two years ago at the beginning of the year long challenge also, but this time I went one step further. I un-followed all my favourite bloggers on instagram.

My husband and I kvetch all the time about what our kids watch on Youtube Kids: other kids playing with toys. It means they know EXACTLY what all the newest, trendiest toys are, and they WANT THEM! And then I realized something. That’s exactly what I do on Instagram! I watch other women play with clothes! So I always know what the newest, trendiest clothes are, and I WANT THEM!Talk about creating a culture of lack and unfulfilled-ness (is unfullfilment a word? Likely not, but it should be, because there’s a lot of that going on in the age of Instagram and Youtube kids). I’m constantly bombarded by what I don’t have and what I lack. So, unfollow! Stop watching women wear clothing you want! (God I’m going to miss them. So sad.)
This will hopefully help with hardest thing number TWO. (In case you missed it, number one was Instagram = constant temptation.

Hardest thing number TWO is ONLINE SHOPPING. Gahhhhh. I love online shopping. I don’t know when it started, but it hit me hard. I do think it coincided with my Instagram addiction because about 90% of the things I bought online, I saw first on Instagram. (Especially for myself, stuff for the kids it’s often just easier to buy online than try and make it out to a store. But it definitely makes me stop and think “Do I need this” when I have to go out to a store for it, instead of it showing up on my doorstep”.

I was reading this book called “Dollars and Sense: How we Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter” and one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far is that the universe would like to distance us from what the author calls “The Pain of Paying”. To separate us from our money is painful, so things like CREDIT CARDS help by lengthening the time between the purchase and the actual payment for the item. Like, if you buy a bottle of red wine, and “age it” by leaving it in your basement for five years, when you drink the bottle, it feels FREE! It isn’t, because you paid for it five years ago, but who cares, that’s so far in the past that it doesn’t matter. This is kind of how credit cards work but in reverse. You buy something and enjoy it immediately (or in 4-7 business days, whenever it shows up on your doorstep), but because it’s on your credit card you don’t end up paying for it until 3 weeks later, and even then it’s in a huge bill with the other 10,000 things you put on your credit card which decreases the “pain” because you’ve already enjoyed it. Credit cards also decrease the attention we give to the payment. His formula is : Pain of Paying = Time + Attention. When you increase the time between payment and consumption and decrease the attention needed to make payment. Think about all the ways this is possible with things like tap cards (beep, didn’t even notice how much it was, beep, hey isn’t this fun? BEEEEEP!) and websites that allow you to save your credit card info so you don’t even have to get up off the couch to get it (Confirm order? Yes please, see YOU soon pretty bag!) or this fabled Apple Pay that lets you pay with your phone (it’s not REAL money, it’s PHONE money!). All these things separate YOU from the reality of LOSING MONEY!

So I’m trying really hard to use Debit for everything, and again, am posting all my extra purchases (besides food and gas and the boring necessities) on my Instagram page (linked in the blog header) so that it REALLY sinks in that I’m losing that money. That it is GONE and I’m never getting it back to save up for that new couch, or trip to Victoria (or ANY trip that doesn’t involve camping on wheels) or FOR THE CHILDREN’S SAKE! I’m also writing it down and creating a weekly total so we can really get a good idea of where the money is going. How do you separate the pain from the payment? Have a good weekend!

New rules – consumables only

Blahhhh. I can already see how hard this is going to…NOPE. I got this.

And I have to be stronger this time. I allowed myself wayyy to much leeway and “flexibility” last time. I ordered essential oils by the dozens, convincing myself they were for the family or the kids’ health. I did a bunch of thrift shopping, getting things I didn’t love or need really, but just needed to shop ish. I was a master at talking around the rules I had made for myself. I never even really started the consumables only three months that I was going to do, as I got pregnant and miscarried again and it just seemed too hard.

But I’ve got this right? I have new motivation (DO IT FOR THE CHILDREN! I want the girls and Sebastian to have all that they need and get to do all the things they want, and my random shopping/spending is getting in the way of that) and new control over my thoughts (YOU GOT THIS – I still haven’t come up with anything better).

And here are the rules this time around.

  1. Consumables only. Food, drink, toiletries (IN MODERATION, as my Beautycounter habit is almost rivaling my jewelry addiction).
  2. If I absolutely need something I have to clear it with you folks? With Mark? With the whole world?! Thrift shopping was a whole other world of difficult and complicated, and I just don’t want to get into it again. With thrift shopping there is only ONE of that thing, and the pressure to bring home items that are not perfect, but just ok, because they are the only one, is more temptation than when there are racks of the same items. I’m still losing weight from the baby and I am hoping I will need new pants in a smaller size soon enough. I’m not sure what to do when this happens. Suggestions are welcome.
  3. Things for the kids. NEED ONLY. Buy one of those things whatever it is, and no more. I tend to buy them two of whatever I think they need so they have a backup. This leads to an overflow of clothes, especially for the girls. “OH it’s so cute! She’ll look adorable in this! Oh you want that sparkly pink WHATEVER?! Sure!” And for the baby it’s even worse, cause he’s so dang adorable toooooo…Focus.
  4. Nothing for the house, obviously. Poor house, I’ve barely bought anything for it since we moved in, since I started the first round right after we moved in, then just always focus my spending on myself (sorry house).

It’s all the exceptions that I’m worried about. The “I need this”. I’m reallllly good at talking myself into needing something when I actually don’t. And if I tell Mark that the kids “need” something, then he goes, “Oh ok, well if they need it, that’s fine”. And then we both freak out about how little money we have about a month later. So fun!

I think a good base rule is going to have to be…NO ONLINE SHOPPING. This one hits me right in the gut because I love love love love love love love online shopping. Love it. I am one of those people that have my credit card info saved for my jewelry site, Old Navy, Amazon, Zulily (though I’ve managed to avoid that one lately), American Eagle, H&M…and so then you don’t have to go looking for your credit card to shop! (Though really, I have the number memorized, I use it THAT OFTEN, ugh, sad!) This makes shopping so dang easy, and so disconnected to anything relating to real money. Just hit “Place order” or “complete order” or whatever it is and BAM, it shows up on my doorstep (which is my favourite part, I looove mail!) and a month ish later it’s all in my credit card statement in a big lump sum. Boom, no pain, and alll the gain (of new stuff!)

I may even go a step further and try and not use my credit card at all. I’m going to explore this issue in a separate blog post/book review on Dollars and Sense: How we Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter by Dan Ariely and Jeff Kreisler, but it has a loooot of smart things to say about how credit cards create a huge gap in our minds from the pain of paying for things, ultimately making us feel like since we paid for it so long ago, we didn’t really pay for it at all, BUT WE DID! THE MONEY IS GONE! But you didn’t notice!

I’m wondering if I have to keep myself accountable by logging all my purchases here, or on my instagram (which is now linked properly on my home page) maybe? And then had to calculate the “opportunity cost” of each purchase (ie how many other things I could have done with that money)? Yes.

So recap:

a)consumables only
b) no online shopping
c) any spending has to be logged and accounted for and opportunity cost calculated

Start date: Monday July 15th. End Date: October 15th. Then I will re-evaluate.

Exceptions I can foresee:

-Girls will need indoor shoes for school (and I’ve tried the second hand shoe route and they NEVER fit right, and we have about six pairs in the basement that no one has used because we all struggle with second hand shoes)
– Mira will need a new backpack for grade two.
– Pants, if I magically lose more baby weight
– clothes for Sebastian, though we have a lot of hand me downs that are great and may preclude any shopping

I think that’s it….Sorry, long post, but I had to write it all out as I thought about it it seemed:D Thanks for sticking with me! Anyone want to join me in my consumables only trimester??

How the freaking frack am I ever going to get through this

When I was in labour with Sebastian, it was the most intense pain I’ve ever encountered in my entire life. He was a week plus overdue, I was insanely sore and exhausted, and they had to induce for like 12 hours. After about six hours of oxytocin and antibiotics the contractions were ramping up and yet I was still at about 3 cm, which is about what I was at when I GOT THERE IN THE MORNING. I was so incredibly frustrated and disheartened and kept saying to my husband and my doula, “I can’t do this, I can’t do this anymore, I don’t want to, it’s too hard”. And the pain was just getting worse and worse. I spent I dunno how long, just bearing down in a squat, complaining that I just wasn’t strong enough to keep going.

And then help came from the weirdest place. I think either Mark or Eldyka said “You got this” and all of a sudden all I could hear was this song from the My Little Pony soundtrack that my daughters are addicted to. “You got this, we got this, we got this togetheeeeerrrrrrrr!” And with that song stuck in my head, I did, I got this. Everything shifted from that point and I just kept singing that inane song over and over and over and over. Even when it was still another few hours (probably) before he was finally born (at a whopping NINE POUNDS), even when his shoulder got stuck and we had to maneuver him a bit, I kept that stupid song going and thus kept telling myself I could do it. And it made allll the difference.

The last few months have been HARD. And the words in my head are not helping at ALL. I can’t do this. Why is this so fucking hard. Why am I so tired all the time. Why is this so fucking hard. Will it ever be any easier? Will I ever be strong enough to handle all three of these children? Why do they make it so difficult? Fucking hard, fucking children, how am I ever going to do this? Will I ever be a good mother? Will it ever get easier? Why is it so fucking hard?!

And believing it’s so hard and telling myself how hard it is, and how weak I am, has not helped. It hasn’t made it go by any faster. It has made me feel weaker and less able to cope. It makes me more susceptible to retail therapy because I NEED IT. Because it’s so fucking hard, that I need something to help me make it through.

And starting this journey AGAIN, the same thoughts are running through my head. It’s going to be fucking hard, how will I ever get through this?

I MIGHT pick another song other than My Little Pony…just cause I don’t think I can handle another three months of that song, but I might try something like Sia’s “Unstoppable” or something (any and all suggestions welcome) like that to give me some strength of mind. Some positive self-talk (self-sing?) might help?

Lame? How else does one get through the hard times? Tips? Tricks? Good fight songs?

I need to go back to rehab

My spending has been out of control. Again. Which I know I admitted about a month ago (two?) when I did a random but necessary blog post about how I’ve unlearned all the lessons I had learned, but I think it even got worse after that. I know I went into Old Navy and bought pants and a shirt (I didn’t even wait for a SALE!) for like $100, spent about the same amount on new earrings, bought a bunch of new things for the girls for summer (even though summer HAS NOT ARRIVED YET HERE IN ALBERTA) and was planning to order a bunch of new jewelry when the line launch came out on Friday, even though I haven’t sold a BEAN from my “business” in like a year…

So I need to go back to rehab. I just re-read my post from January 2018 that said I was going to do three months of consumables only, and that might be a good shock-therapy start. We are still living on one income since the baby is only 5 months old and I can’t realistically go back to work yet. He doesn’t need me need me as he’s been on formula/bottles for about a month now, but he’s still sooo little, I can’t bear to leave him yet. Also, I’ve been considering what I really want to do with my life (if you stick around I do this about every six months or so and come up with something new to try for a while. So far I’ve tried editing courses, I took a psychology course to see if I’d want to teach that…I almost applied for a nursing degree…)and considering going back to the old dream of being an English academic. This, as you will realize, costs money. Money that I am currently spending, on stuff.

And I struggle, because I loooooove shopping, I love getting a new thing in the mail, I love the “freedom” to just pick up what I want when I want it. Whatever it is, clothes for me, for the girls, for Sebastian (the baby), earrings, purses, shoes. It all brightens up a time that has been incredibly difficult for me. I have been at home, not working, for two full years now. That was never the plan. And it’s HARD. Being home with a four year old, a newborn, and a very precocious and busy 6 year old has been HARD. And I cheer myself up via shopping. Too bad I’m not an exercise addict instead of a shopping addict, then I’d have a six pack instead of a lot of jewelry. But realizing that as my kids get busier, their activities get more expensive, and we have less and less money for STUFF has had a big impact on me. I’m the reason we don’t have enough for their activities. It’s my spending that’s making my husband so stressed out, and making him question whether we have enough so that the 6 year old can do all the dancing she wants. That’s on me. And my earrings. And my purses. And my online shopping addiction. How embarrassed and ashamed do I feel?

I started reading this book that talked about “opportunity costs” which means that if you spend $100 on earrings (for example) then what is the cost of that in terms of other opportunities? For me that’s almost a month’s worth of dancing fees for my girls. A months worth of dancing is worth more to me than earrings, but I hadn’t ever looked at it that way before. SO it’s a two-pronged approach:

1. Look at how much things cost me in “opportunity cost”. If I spend this, what am I taking away from my kids?

2. Cheering myself up in other ways like exercise, fresh air, and possibly taking a graduate level English class and start moving towards a career away from my children so that I’m not facing ten plus years of drudgery/stay at home mom-life which is usually what makes me reach for my shopping. (This mayyy include cutting down my instagram use significantly as this is where I find allll the things I want. Leopard print earrings, shoes, the latest jewelry trends, allllll on instagram in one handy place.)

I’m still panicking internally about this, by the way. And likely will for some time. Do it for the children Meaghan, DO IT FOR THE CHILDREN!!!

I don’t have time to do this right now….

I just got the email reminding me to renew my blog and my meaghan.sych domain name. And I was reminded of alll the amazing lessons I learned in my nine-ish months of buy nothing new. And how I’ve forgotten all the things I have learned. And how I just bought three pairs of shoes online cause I had a shitty morning with the baby (I had a baby since we last chatted, after a second miscarriage -did I talk about both miscarriages here? I don’t remember and wow I’ve really fucked up the punctuation in that sentence) and needed “retail therapy”. Food and shopping are my ultimate crutches and I can’t indulge too much in food because I’m trying to go dairy free for the baby and trust me, there is NOTHING fun about dairy free. Gummy bears only do so much.

I’ve just put aforementioned baby down for a much needed nap, the four year old is downstairs playing with her new toys she got for her birthday (new new, ordered off Amazon cause I’m like ten seconds away from a Prime membership and WHO AM I?!) and I really really don’t have time to blog right now, but maybe that’s when I need it the most? I didn’t have time to shop second hand for her birthday present, I didn’t have time to shop second hand for alllll the shoes I just bought, or the tank tops I ordered last week, or all the jewelry I ordered the month before that…but honestly, I have spent SO MUCH TIME (ha, I really am back) taking shit back to stores that I wonder what takes the time? The shopping? The thinking about shopping? The planning the shopping? Seriously, I need to go back and re-read allll my previous blogs because I have slipped sideways, and as a family of five, we gonna need every last penny. Even the minivan we bought was new (though that was mostly out of my control because my in-laws were involved. And everything where my in-laws is concerned is out of my control. Actually it feels like a LOT of my life is out of my control. The baby’s sleep schedule, my own sleep schedule, my children’s moods, my moods, my husband’s job situation, my diet, my own schedule in GENERAL. This is why I shop. It’s something I can control, something to enjoy, something to perk up these days of exhaustion and drudgery. Did I ever close those brackets? Nope.)

 

So maybe after I re-read those old blogs I’ll be a bit smarter again? Doubtful? I might need this again, in these days of retail therapy to deal with baby-life, I might just have to find time to write, to think, instead of just to react. So maybe see you again soon….

 

 

Why doesn’t money grow on trees?

Warning: rant ahead.

Is this all I do?

Thanks for all the support on my last blog about how hard 2017 was, I really needed to hear some positive reinforcement about how much I’ve done and how much I’ve tried and tried!

I’m still finding myself in a bit of a funk this Tuesday (maybe it’s just Tuesdays?!) that I have been working on this challenge of Buy Nothing New since June (so, 7 months now) and it doesn’t seem like we have saved any money in that time. As I mentioned previously, we are down to one income, and part of the idea of the challenge was to help cut down on spending so that we would survive financially. Somehow that didn’t happen. I’ve read countless articles about how to cut down on spending and how to live frugally. I’ve been writing down every single freaking spent item for the last 4 months but it still doesn’t seem to do anything. At the end of this month we are lower than we have been in ages, and the savings account doesn’t look any better and the line of credit is lower only because we got a rebate from the government on our attic insulation, and we are both feeling totally depressed about it.

So, onwards with “Consumables only February/March/April”. This may be foolish as I find these three months incredibly depressing. Maybe where YOU live it’s called spring, but here in Alberta it’s still just winter. But we have to try something. Because it’s going to be winter for the next 3 months still, I figure it’s a good time to try this. No season change, no one should need any clothing, and we just trudge on with life. Why does life really seem so dull with nothing “new” to bring home?I am never so upbeat as I am when I get new things for me or the kids (even just “new to us” things, from the second hand stores).

My project for the next few hours/days is going to be going back through December and January’s spending and figuring out how much we are going over our income every month and what those have been. December was Christmas and January just seemed to be an expensive month too, so I’d like to figure that out. I’ve cut back our food box to once a month so that has helped with the food budget considerably, but I haven’t been figuring out how much we are spending each month.

So. More work. For me. Why don’t men do this shit? Maybe your man does, but mine just freaks out when we have less than he expects in the account and looks to me for answers. (He hates spending money and actually admitted he’d probably be perfectly happy if we just never spent money on anything. How we managed to stay together long enough to get married I’ve never figured out. I’m the opposite. Obvs.)

But roll on consumables only February/March/April. SO many awesome people I know are also trying to save on groceries for at least a month by only eating what they have in the pantry and cleaning it all out. I’ve also been trying small versions of this; soup with frozen bacon and chicken, and quinoa that has been in the cupboard for six months; pasta once a week every week because we have SO MUCH FREAKING PASTA; dreaming up things to use lentils in (we buy them and never use them); getting creative with our use of beans in chili as we have a ton of chickpea/bean salad cans but never use them!

How do you save money? How do you track it? I’ve asked this before and I know there are apps but my brain doesn’t seem to GET IT unless it’s written down!

Happy Tuesday!

Another thing I have too much of….

PHOTOS. I have spent two days out of the last four dealing with the overabundance of photos I have. This has been an issue of mine. I take like 10 of the same shot, but then don’t go back and edit. Then when the mood strikes to upload them all into the computer, I think, mah, whatever, just throw them all on there.

But a few months ago I was pretty sure that some photos were missing from my computer. They were in my phone, but not going to my computer for some reason. I ignored it for several months until this message popped up about storage getting full. And then another one about storage BEING full. I got soo annoyed at this message, as I would have loved to delete some of these photos but I can’t because I can’t put them on the computer yet (and we are talking like 600 photos that weren’t going). Soooo I phoned Apple care and spent like an hour on the phone with one lady. She suggested upgrading my computer system (like downloading the update from the app store). We scheduled a call back for that afternoon for someone to check and see if it worked. It didn’t, and photos was taking about a decade to load the photos that were supposedly already in there (from 2009!)

So I spent an hour on the phone with THAT guy, but since it wasn’t working just decided to keep my Sunday appointment at the Apple store. THAT took an hour and 45 minutes and we got it mostly organized. But because there were so many photos, I had to keep plopping them into the computer and then it would stall etc etc.

The moral of the story is: There is ONE MORE THING THAT I NEED TO MINIMIZE!

Oi. There are literally 20,000 photos and video stored on my computer, which are slowing things down considerably. There are only about 600 photos on my phone, which is pretty darn amazing, as there has been close to 2000 for some time. Why, instead of flipping through Instagram, don’t I spend 20 minutes and clear out the 10 copies of almost the same picture?!

I never even considered digital clutter when I was minimizing and trying to cut down on visual clutter. But there you go. Yet another thing to remember, as it has cost me HOURS out of my week!

What are things that take up your time that drive you mental? Have a lovely week!