Cait Flanders: "The Year of Less" | Talks at Google
Wow. This is really cool I, also, just have to say it's really neat coming. From Canada. And from like a small island on the west coast of Canada so to be standing at Google London is kind of wild oh it's. Like talking about my little book. So. Uh my, name is Kate Flanders, thank. You to Nicola for inviting me here I, have, been a personal, finance blogger for, the past. Gosh. XM Anor 8 years at this point. My. Last job that I had was I was managing editor of a financial startup for about three years and, I've. Done a lot of freelance writing in the personal finance space so for other financial startups, different, banks, and. Stuff like that. And, now. I am, an author which is pretty wild like I said because I'm just from a little island on the west coast of Canada and. Now I'm like, you guys are holding a book that became a Wall Street Journal bestseller and, every day I'm just sort of like what. But. It's. Really amazing to be here today, so I will. Take you a little bit step backwards. Having. A career in personal finance is something that I never ever set out to do I can, honestly say looking back on my life and the different interests that I've had I never thought, that that, is something I would do that I would be writing about how people could be better with money, and. I say that because I have not always been good money. So. I grew up very fortunately, with a family, that talked about money all the time actually. We say and it's aligned in the in the book but it's true so my dad's a sailor and when your dad is a sailor no, topic, of conversation. Is taboo like you basically talk about everything. But. Money was the biggest one so, I remember, things like growing up and my dad would tell me things, like how much he made like, how much my mum made what they paid for their house. Actually. Knowing things like how much stuff costs like I remember going to the grocery store and I'm actually pointing, out like how much things cost so. We knew like okay for a family of five this is what groceries cost I, remember. Looking at their bank accounts, like all kinds of stuff like we talked about money all the time my. Dad was also someone, who. This. Really. I will say annoying when you're like 13 14 15 years old habit, of every, morning he would read the newspaper, and when he would find an article about anything personal finance related so whether it was about retirement. Savings accounts, real, estate markets, the. Economy, just anything that was going on, my dad would cut them out and leave them on my bed for me to read like when I got home from school so. I would like walk into the house walk into my room and see these and immediately. Roll my eyes and go out and be like I have no interest, in reading this right now, and. Unfortunately, didn't I will say that even though my dad talked. To me about money all the time, I still. Made a lot of mistakes and, I think that's sort of just something that happens. In life we don't do everything just the way that our parents have hoped. That we would so. I, will. Say right now so I'm 32 years old, when I was 25, I was maxed, out with close. To $30,000, of debt and, that. Was basically, just consumer, debt so it wasn't even. Student. Loans like I didn't even have a great excuse, for why I was in that amount of debt and if I were to switch that into pounds I mean you guys might know this stuff it's probably like sixteen, seventeen, thousand pounds of like, just consumer, debt and, when I say maxed out I was truly maxed. Out I had $100 left in my bank, account and $100, left on one of my credit cards and I, somehow had to make that last me for six weeks so. I had no choice at that point but, to start taking my finances, seriously, and to start paying off my debt and, so, I started, this little blog that I wrote anonymously, for a long time. That. I thought was just gonna be this little place on the internet where I could document, my debt repayment journey no. One was supposed to read it like, I never intended. To ever have an audience, or readership, or anything like that all. I wanted, to do and it was as boring as this as I would write these weekly spending reports so. Weekly spending reports literally, looked, like just like Monday, I spent two dollars and 91 cents at Starbucks, Tuesday.
I Spent two dollars and 91 cents at Starbucks, maybe, I spent some money on groceries or something else Wednesday. Thursday except, like it that's all it was I would, post these every Sunday, there was nothing, exciting about them but, then people started reading them and, I was like what what's going on here and. Then I found this whole world of personal finance bloggers, a lot. Of people doing the same thing so, this was. 2011-2012. A couple years after kind. Of financial crash so I think everyone was sort of finally, coming to this place of like okay it's time to really start getting serious with what we're doing with our money. What. I will say is about being maxed out at that point is that it weighed so, heavily on. Me that I became extremely aggressive. About my debt repayment approach so I can't say that I had like the best techniques, or the way that I paid off my debt I also. Looked back at it and think that it was extremely. Not. Just aggressive like I was really, hard on myself so. Things I used to say to myself when I was in debt was like you're a bad person you've screwed up all your chances of having a strong financial future kind. Of like I deserve, to be punished, and not have any sort of fun money or free money because I had just gotten myself into this horrible situation and so, I just deserved whatever it, took to get out of it and. I paid, off my debt in two years and that sounds, great on paper but, the. Problem then was that I threw, out those two years I hadn't taken the time to learn why, I had actually gotten into debt in the first place so. I didn't understand what my habits were I didn't, know actually, what I had been overspending, on all those years before like I kind of had this record of the past two years when. I was paying off my debt but. I didn't really know anything about myself as a consumer, because just for those two years I was just like anti consumption, anti everything which. We can talk about that like I've more in the mindful. Zone of that now. But. I I didn't, know anything about myself so on top of being super aggressive being, hard on myself and not learning anything, it's. Not that surprising to me that once I was debt-free I actually, just went back to spending basically, all of my money so. There, were months when I was paying off my debt where I would put up to fifty five percent of my income towards, debt repayment and that was great but. Again a little bit too aggressive like not quite. Something. That could be sustainable, because again I had no fun money I didn't allow myself to do anything just for pure pleasure like, the, simplest things that you enjoy I didn't let myself do any of it so. There. Were months back, then fifty five percent of my, I'm going towards debt and then, the first year, that I was debt free and I should have been set up right like to have this much, more successful, financial future I should have been able to achieve all kinds of goals and, instead, I was saving, maybe. 5% of my income and I would write these blog, post then where, I would say at the beginning of every month that I wanted to be saving 20% of my income and then. At the end of every, month I would be like oh hey guys remember, when I said that thing actually. Saved like 3%, or 5% I think like the most was about 12, an.
Entire Year and that's not that I was saving nothing, but it's that writing that down every single month did not feel good like I didn't feel good to share it and have to tell people that I had, not achieved my goal but. It also just didn't feel good for me because I knew that I could do better and that I really wanted to so. I will, tell you about this challenge that I decided to sort of set out for myself but everyone up front like a question is always like oh why did you start doing it like what was the goal and I'm like to. Be honest like I think we we wish it was sort of like a more dramatic story, or we wish that there was some like huge on a rock-bottom moment or something like that but. I think for me something I've learned about myself is that I'm, I usually, create change in my life after I've been thinking about it for a really long time and eventually. Get to a place where I'm just really uncomfortable and I have to make a change so. For me all it was was that once a month for, 12 months in a row I would, think like I can do better than this I don't, know exactly what that looks like yet but like I'm not happy with what I just did, I know I can do better so, what. Does that look like and then. After. A year of being debt free not. That surprisingly, had a another, money conversation, with my family my. Sister at the time was 20 years old and I was 29, and we're. Sitting at my parents house we're all just kind of hanging out and my sister starts. Telling us about how she had just bought some camera or something for like five hundred dollars I keep in mind she's like a full-time university student, she is working part-time but she does have a ton of extra money so we're, all just kind of picking, at her and being like oh like you should save more of your money like don't spend it all and. She goes yeah but I save 20 percent of my income so I can do whatever I want with the rest and so, first of all I'm like wait, what like. How, is my sister figured. This out before me how, she's even 20 on her part-time. Salary. And I, can't even do that making a decent, income at a financial startup, okay. But. Then the, words that came in on my mouth were, just automatic, I don't I didn't even think of them before I said them I just. Said to her yeah but you live at home like do you really need 80 percent of your income or, could you live on less and then. Like it was one of the things where I have no idea what anybody, else said for like the next five minutes and in my head I'm like whoa, like where, did that question come from why. Have I never asked, myself that like, do I need ninety. Or ninety five percent of my income or could I be living on less than that and so. The wheels just started turning from there and within like a couple of weeks I just sort of wrote, down these rules for something that I called a shopping ban. When. I think about the shopping ban now I sort of wish I had called it something different because it sounds incredibly, restrictive up front it's like no shopping you can't buy anything that that's not what the goal was and that's not even what that year looked like I just, sort of had this idea that I, didn't. Want to buy anything unless I absolutely, needed, it and also, knowing like I had never shopped. Like that before I'd never spent money like that before like waited, until I actually needed something I used to be someone who made a lot of pre-emptive. Purchases, right like you just buy things because you think I'll need it one day it will help me in that scenario but I never waited until I just needed. The thing and then you buy the thing, so. I just wrote, these rules down and I, will say so there were three different lists the first list was the things I was allowed to buy so. Basic, stuff I you could call it even like consumables, so, I was obviously allowed, to buy groceries. I could, put gas in my car. Buy, toiletries, when you run out of them like I'm always like if you run out of deodorant and toothpaste everyone.
In Your life wants, you to buy more of that stuff so please buy more of it so, anything that you are using, often, and run out of buy. It buy. More of the stuff that you need that's fine when, you run out of it the. Things I could not buy that, list was a lot longer so I, couldn't buy clothes shoes. Books. Magazines. Electronics. Things for around the house and, then. I added takeout. Coffee to that list of things I couldn't buy. And I will say I'm not a personal finance writer who's like you're not allowed to your five dollar latte like I just had, a five dollar latte well five dollar Canadian. Okay. So, I'm not one of those people who says that I was just at the point with my finances, where I was no longer comfortable with how much I was spending on it and I was doing it strictly out of habit like it wasn't because I genuinely wanted, the coffee even it's just like this thing that, I did all the time and so, I was just still doing it so I was like no more takeit coffee either I. Also. Created this other short list because I decided to do this for an entire year. So. I started. Trying to look ahead a little bit and just think, of a few things that I might need in that upcoming year and so. One was I, had, five weddings to go to and, I'm not really someone who dresses up in general so, I was like I need an outfit. So one outfit of dress shoes or whatever and that will be for all of the weddings I, knew. That I had no kind of winter boots and actually these are the ones I bought so I bought these in 2014. And just still wear them now which is great, and. There. Was something else I really wanted, it was if I could save the money I really wanted to buy a new bed that year because my bed was 13 years old and I think because it was a bigger ticket item I could never seem to save and actually afford to replace it it's, so interesting to look back at the psychology of that like in. All my years previous, I was so quick to spend $20 $30, there excetera cetera how, quickly that stuff adds up and I could have just had $1,000, to, buy a bed back then but. Anyway so I was like if I can save the money I would really like to buy bed that just was important to me so. I started this challenge on my, 29th. Birthday so it was July of 2014. Right. Up front I also decided, to start sort of a secondary challenge, which again, like I I still, think I wish, I had a better reason for why I started, it but. I just sort of got on that kick of decluttering I, definitely. Recognized, the fact that I had been spending a bunch of money on stuff that I probably didn't really need wasn't even using I could look around my home and see that I had more than enough stuff, and there was so much that I wasn't wearing anymore I wasn't reading it touching it whatever like I just wasn't using this stuff so, the same time that I decided to stop shopping I also decided I was. Going to declutter which sounds, really counterintuitive but. It ended up being, like. The very, weird, and great, challenge. To do together because. It all taught me about becoming a more mindful consumer, in general. So. I set, out to do that when I started decluttering, I will say like that, was the very first thing I sort of did like starting, the shopping ban felt easy in the first few weeks but when. I I started, decluttering at the exact same time what. Was so interesting about, that was that I took, inventory, which, sounds so boring but. I took inventory of not only the amount of stuff that I got rid of but also the things I was keeping now. The reason that was ended, up being so important like I was strictly doing it for a data point like I'm so, nerdy that throughout this entire process I was literally. Tracking the percentages, of how much stuff I got rid of how much stuff I kept and it, was it, was just purely for me like it it didn't matter for anyone, else I was just super curious with how the numbers were gonna add up and. So the, first couple of months like I ended up decluttering 43 percent of my belongings in like just maybe a month and a half two months and. It was really easy at first but that list of inventory, of the things that I kept the reason it ended up being so important, was because it helped me stop, or stop help stop me from making a lot of impulse, purchases, so.
Throughout The shopping ban there were numerous times, where I did think about buying things, but. Then I was able to just sort of lis sort of mentally, check and go you know what when I started this I actually still owned over 50 books that I haven't even read yet I do not need to buy more books and the, same thing just for like toiletries, kind of the things you have the most stuff so when people ask me now like well, what should I do if I was gonna start a shopping ban I'm like don't even start one to be honest like start by taking inventory of the stuff you own because, I think that alone, will help people just stop, making more some of the impulse purchases that they're more inclined to make so. I, declared. Took inventory, and. Then I noticed kind of month 2 that is where the, first time things really started to feel like they were a little bit trickier and, when I say this ok. Journalists. Keep asking me like what the hardest part was and I'm like to be honest like the, hardest part was really changing habits and the things are the things you do all the time so, one of the hardest things for me was to give up takeout coffee and then journalists laugh at that sometimes like oh how. Silly like you're, just like so what a frivolous, thing and I'm like you don't get it like it's not about the takeout coffee it's, that that is something I was, doing habitually. Almost every single day which, means that every single day I'm then in that moment where I'm like oh I want to do this thing oh but, I can't and so you have to stop and start figuring out like what your triggers were and why you were thinking of doing that and. And, just and change your reaction like I had never thought of changing my reaction before I always just like when I thought I was getting a good coffee I just immediately got it so, was the first time that I really had to start thinking about why I was, even considering, getting take a coffee and then. Changing my reaction, to that. Gosh. What was like the. Hardest parts yeah take, out coffee books were the next biggest one and again it's a habit like I used to have this really bad habit and it's so easy with stuff like Amazon like you just hear. Of something online and you, or you, can hear it from it anywhere and you immediately click over and you go to buy the thing, and then back then it was like you need $25, to get the free shipping you, just like add something else it sounds kind of ok get your free shipping bing bang boom I do that like good once a week or once every two weeks I do not read that many books like I really wish that I did but I never did it's, very rare that I read that many books but, I did it all the time which meant that at least once or twice a week I was kind of sitting there being like well, that book sounds good what. Do I do now, and so. Though in the beginning like noticing, that those were the two toughest ones for me that would look different for everyone because, everyone's, spending is so personal and that's why again like people ask me about shopping bands are doing something somewhere all the time and I'm like yours. Is gonna look different than mine and what's hard for you is gonna look different than what looked hard for me because, everyone's, are different like. The things that we have habits for some of them are kind, of similar but often. Not like everyone's. Values are so different, so. Those, were the toughest parts the changing, the habit, part is what then became the most important, thing for me was. Like, with the take of coffee pretty, easy honestly, when, you guys are lucky like at work it would just be here for you but. For. Me it was like okay well instead of going up to get tako coffee I just have to kind of leave all this stuff for, take like making coffee on the counter at all times like if it's just there then you do it and then, it that becomes a habit and like an enjoyable habit.
I Started enjoying making, coffee every morning and almost noticing it became this like really nice routine because, I was working remotely. For the startup, that I was at and I, would just enjoy my kind of slow mornings, getting up making, the coffee kind of listening to a podcast or something just relaxing, a little bit and then starting, the day it, was so much easier than just and actually. Isn't that even weird to think of it like I was working remotely and somehow it used to seem easier to get dressed and go downstairs to get coffee rather than just to make coffee but. It was just a habit so, changing that I have it was easy the or easy, overtime the books. One was tough like I thought about buying books for a long. Long. Time I will. Say that I became. Very good friends with my library, and, I actually, had to get a new credit card that year because mine like had been compromised, and so they have to send you a new number and all of that still, to this day it's been almost four years I do not have, that credit card number memorized I used, to know all of them off by heart because it was just so easy to do online shopping I still don't know what that one is but I write memorized, my library card number within. Probably. Three weeks of having it because I used it all the time. And. Then, another question I get so aside from like my personal habits is how. Did friends deal with it that's, probably the most common question I get at any kind of event that I do now like what did friends do what did family do I feel. Super fortunate that my, friends and family were. Mostly pretty supportive family, definitely, I think also because over the years the. Thing that they had watched me do was sort of take on these big challenges and just do them like other things I'd written on the blog was not only paying off my debt in two years but. I also quit drinking in those two years and I'm very open and honest about that in the book so if you do read it you will find a lot of stories about that, and. I, also decided. To sort of take control of my health I lost thirty pounds I, started training for my first half marathon like, I was just doing these big challenges so family was just like oh yeah like you'll. Do this thing no problem, what. Was more interesting, with friends, is that at first I will, say our struggle, was more just that friends. Didn't really seem to get the point so, I would find out all my friends had like gone out for dinner or something like that I'm like hey where was my invite and, then they'd be all confused be like well I thought I wasn't a lot you weren't going to dinner I'm like northen go to dinner. Invite me to dinner like I'm, allowed to do that if I want to do that so, like okay so, friends seemed confused all the time what. Was more interesting was when, I. Would. Find myself listening, to conversations with, friends where they were talking about how much stuff they had bought or like the deals they had got or where they had bought something from and I, don't think I had ever realized, how socially. Normal it is to talk about shopping, like. I was really naive when I started I just kind of thought no one would care and it wouldn't be a big deal and this. Is something I also noticed obviously, when I quit drinking like drinking, is very culturally, normal and so you're in a lot of conversations, where now you're like okay. I'm not part of this conversation anymore, like, I can't I can't add anything to it I can't, participate. In any way and with shopping I just didn't, think that was going to be a thing but. It came up all the time and it can be as simple as like where did you get your shoes where did you get your bag Oh what book are you reading right now where did you get it from who'd you hear but like just anything people, talk about the stuff that they buy all the time and so. It's not that friends, cared it was really that it was one of those moments and I I think about this a lot like when especially when you're sober you, often find yourself in situations where, you feel like the only sober person in the room because you genuinely, are like it's the. Only one who isn't participating. And. With these conversations it ended up being the same. So. I will say I mean the first.
Six Months or so of the, shopping ban we're we're just tough in in terms of like figuring all my habits were how to change them, and. Then also starting to question a little bit more what, my values, actually were and the things I actually did want to be spending money on but. It, got, a, little. Bit tougher about halfway through so. In the book I talked about it a lot but my parents, ended up announcing that they were getting divorced that year and, I think it was the first time that I really, recognized, that I was more I'll to say like an emotional, consumer, so. I think what I realized that year was that in the past what I would have done was probably drank my way through that I'm. Also pretty honest about like when I was younger like binge eating things, like that and, because. I didn't have those and now I also didn't, have spending. As an option I had. To do the tougher. Part which is you just have to feel the hard feelings and that's, not great, advice sort of like people always like okay if you do that like what did you do it I'm like I cried a lot that year like, it was really not that. Exciting, it wasn't a great year all around or, for all parts of it but it, was a really hard year and I had to learn how to feel feelings for the first time and just like get through it so. What. Ended up getting easier, after that was. Finally. Coming to a place where I had a goal like. I didn't have a goal really when I got started I sort of wrote these few things down I'm like I want to spend less and I want to save more and it was definitely, just this kind of financial journey that I was on but. Then I just thought I or, and the other part of that was that I said. I wanted to also become a more mindful consumer, which I truly was just kind of making up like I didn't even know what that really meant I'm like that sounds like a good thing like if I could be a more mindful consumer. That sounds great but I didn't really have a financial goal so, halfway through like I was doing pretty good I was saving typically, about like twenty percent of my income every month I was, spending a bit on travel, for the first time which felt great because travel was something I had always wanted, to do but, I'd never seemed to have the money to do it because I was sort of just mindlessly, spending money on whatever, else I'm, so, spending it on travel, living. On much, less than I had been before. But. Then I decided, or, sort of in looking at my finances, realised that not only was i living on less but, I was also doing a bit more freelance, to. The point that I realized I was actually earning the amount of money that, I was living on at that time so. It started to become an option to me that I could maybe, quit, and either, work for myself or, just figure. Something, out and, that. Is a position I had never, been in and never even imagined, being in before like I'd never thought to myself that I would, work for myself like I grew up with parents who worked in public, service and so I just, entrepreneurship. Or whatever like it just wasn't something I ever aspired, to or thought would be, part of my future but. Once I realized that my spending, was, exactly how much I was already earning just on the side I'm like okay, like there's a little bit more motivation, here to keep going and I sort of kicked it into high gear at that point, in. The last six months you know I made, this decision to quit my job and, I ended up on, those, months I don't. Know like there were months in there I probably saved up to 45 percent of my income and by. The end of it had enough money that I felt.
Completely, Comfortable quitting, and knew that even if I could only do it for like six or eight months I had, tons of money like I had lined, up a time to work and I had tons of money in the bank and. That I could at least make, it work for probably six months to a year and that it just would have been worth trying, and I was someone who never took chances on myself before like, when I really look back at the kind of consumer that I was I used to buy things for all the wrong reasons and, I had an even when as a drinker to you like I wrapped, so much of my self-worth up in the wrong things and in trying to be someone that I actually wasn't, and in. That year I ended up decluttering, 70%. Of my belongings, as. Part of that I remember the toughest part right towards the end of decluttering was realizing, that everything, leftover was stuff I actually used, but there were these few items that I had held, on to that was, sort of for this more like aspirational. Version of myself so. I used to buy books that I would think like I don't, know like a smarter, or just more interesting, version of myself might read all, right buy clothes that like I'm more professional or put together version, of myself might wear, creative. Projects were a big one I had so many different like everything, from a DSLR, camera to scrapbooking. Stuff to painting stuff like I had all these different materials, for creative, projects that I thought I might do one day but. I never did any of them because the real me wasn't actually, interested, in any of it and so. I remember, in letting go of all of that and sort of letting go that through, that entire year of just all the the stuff that I didn't, need I realized, the things that I actually do, value and who I really am as a person and. It became a lot easier to start making spending, decisions, once I actually knew who I was already, so. I don't. Want to like cut it short there but I'm like there's. More I could say but I I don't know I've seen like a few phases around like other any questions yet oh. No. Okay. Well. What. I'll say is that when I finished the year I had. Quit my job I had, lived on an average of 51 percent of my income I saved. Thirty-one percent of it and I spent eighteen percent on travel which was a lot of money but. I'd never been able to do that before and and, so even if we had cut that out though like if I hadn't spent anything on travel I would, have saved 49 percent of my income and a. Lot of that truly, came back to making, more mindful decisions, every, day every, week not. That I was buying nothing I also want to say I, don't. Believe that buying stuff is bad or spending money is bad I buy things now and I spend money I'm obviously I'm on a six-week vacation right, now and I've bought books since I've been here and and a, few other things like it I don't think it's about that it really for me was about getting to a place where. I could figure out like, who I was and it makes spending decisions so much easier because now I know when. I make a purchase, it's for something I actually need, or I really want it in that moment like it feels really amazing to buy a book because you genuinely really, want to read it and like that day you sit down and read it in 3 or 4 hours I feels really good and that is something I can't, say about past me I never, knew how to do that but. Yeah. I'll leave it there for now. Yeah. Oh. So. The only part you haven't mentioned yet is when you decided to write the book and how you went, from kind. Of this experiment, to becoming an, author yeah, about, that yeah okay so the question just. Being about when I decided to write the book I don't, know that that was a decision, it was this really amazing. Twist, of events that happened after, I finished the year so. I. Earlier. That year I had done an interview, with someone. At Forbes. And the interview was about someone else she, was like I know cuz I knew kind of everyone in the personal finance base and she's like I know that you have a good relationship with this person I'm doing a profile on them and I'd, really love a couple quotes of just like what they mean to the community so, we did this great interview she got the quotes and at the end of it she goes now when you're done doing like the thing you're doing like let, me know we can write a profile about it so, I reached out to her about a month before because, I knew like the, last couple months especially I was like I put this in the bag like this shopping band thing is just like a way of life like I'm saving as much money so I can so I can quit my job this is easy so, I emailed her to say like hey I'm I'm, almost.
Done I'll be done soon let's, do the interview, and the, date came out which was actually the last day of the, shopping ban it. Came out she emailed me the link that morning and goes just FYI these things have a tendency to go viral, I'm like what and. Within. Two weeks I had been contacted by six different literary agents, so. I I, never made that decision like. It, was sort of something that came after and it's. Been really interesting because I I think as a writer like it's a creative sort of struggle with like I didn't. Set out to do it but, at the same time I, was, writing about something that people are obviously thinking, about and so I mean. Publishers litter agents just like saw that and it just became an option it's sort of one of those things to like it was like quitting my job was never the goal either right and it just became an option it was the first time where it was really in a position where I could take an opportunity and, kind, of move forward with it so it, just became an option. It. Is although, I will say about that too is like I don't tell anyone should just like go out and buy the book it, was like I, talk. About this now like I buy books when I know I'm going to read it so, if it feels like something you want to read now then buy it or ask your library if they have it I don't know how the library system works over here but like in North America you can just go and ask your library to get the book and that also helps authors like authors I don't not, maybe in over, here but in North America authors actually like a small amount like get paid out every single time your book is checked out so. Just, like it's just as not maybe just as good but it all helps it all helps and so I'm. Yeah. I just always think about that like I would never go out and tell anyone to buy buy. Buy. Any book but ya know the irony is real and it is not lost on me. What. Would you say is some of the. Treats. That. You've kind of so you mentioned travel but just aside from that would you say that you're doing now that you haven't done before that is maybe a splurge or an expense that you would have considered like a yellow treatment um, what's, funny like, the word treat, and I talked about this a little bit in the book the word like treat or treat yourself things like Yolo like. All just sort of different phrases that are out there, the. Reason I don't like them just sort of in general like not not even just that we say them to each other although part. Of that that I don't like is that like. I think everyone truly wants to be saving more money and yet we've these little phrases where we're all encouraging, each other to spend more it's really weird so. I don't like that word because for me it makes it still feel like it's something. I shouldn't be having sort. Of so for me I actually believe like I don't really have thoughts on like needs versus wants like, if you, really, want something it's just a need if it fits in your budget it's a need so I, would say now as a consumer. I, mean. I pretty much never buy clothes there's all these things that like I just realized I don't care about but. I do I, mean I buy books, I don't buy more than I read, but. It feels really amazing now, too I. Would. Say I buy more books in bookstores like. I don't buy anything online really anymore and that for, me has come from this place of it's so much different to walk into a bookstore really. Read a few pages of it like get an actual feel for what the book is like and then, making the decision to buy it rather. Than just like hearing, about it immediately getting, it online, so. I probably spend more on books because. I do it that way but, I also it's like something. That's super weird or like people keep calling me a minimalist, I'm like I don't even know if I would call myself one because. I do like tangible, stuff like I like real books I don't really like ebooks so, probably.
Just Book still, just. Differently, it's just a lot different buying them now than it used to be. One. Of the things people. Say, it's not with credit cards and online you mentioned that you don't actually, track. The money you're spending it's very easy because you don't actually physically, experience them do you use any tricks like playing more with cash or something like this or any kind of similar. Things you mentioned going to the actual, book stores yeah. It's, funny that I like I love that question because my. Answer still is not great in the sense of I think it's going to be personal for everyone so, I remember trying a cash budget years. Ago actually when I was trying to pay off my debt and he just did not work for me or at least like the way I was doing it I think, because I had tried, to really restrict myself like this is the amount of money I'm allowed for two weeks but then like things genuinely, do come up in. That time you're like even though it's only twenty dollars you're like actually, really need that money like what am I supposed to do now. So cash doesn't quite work for me I would. Say now like I basically, pay for everything with credit but it comes, it's I mean, that's. Been a cycle, like when, I paid out was paying off my debt I never used my credit for. About a year, after that I didn't, really love using it and then now I'm just at a place that I'm really comfortable, with my spending because I I know I won't overspend like I trust myself and look at my spending weekly, and so I just know, that I'm doing okay but. I think it really. It's. Really personal for everyone the one thing that I have done for a long time, and still do that to this day is, I, actually, put pen to paper and write. Things down so in, a journal, I will literally write down how much I spend every day and on what. And. I don't do that quite as much anymore but I I did it for years because for me there's something so different it was the same way as like publishing, on the blog like, knowing that I had to write down the exact amounts, and put, it out there I naturally just started to spend less because. You'd see like oh you know what it actually doesn't feel great to be spending money on Starbucks, like every single day it's, maybe I'm going to cut it down just a little bit. So. I would I don't, know like I'm super old-school I love technology for so many things but, there's something about spending like writing it down by hand it. Just helped me become more mindful of it over the years. Hi. Um so. I guess it's been quite a bit of trial and error through the process, my. Questions more about like is, there anything over, this amount of time well like is there one thing that you would, have done differently. Well. Like anything that you particularly, regret around decisions, that you made good, question, um, I don't. Know about do it differently, I guess I actually forgot about one story. And this is that it. Was I guess for, four. And a bit months into the first year of the shopping ban because I actually, didn't even say this but when the first year was over I ended up doing it for a second year, and. Again, just for sort of data points which is super boring but I was super curious about things like how. Much stuff do I actually use like how many things of. Toothpaste. Do I actually use in a year or deodorant. Or lotion, or cosmetic, like things like that. So. I will say it was a regret, in the first year I sort of wished I had kept track of all of that and not because it's like earth-shattering, information, like it, doesn't even matter to anyone else except for me but, having that information now like tracking that for a year it, really helped me figure out it's sort of like a semi. Average, female consumer. Like how much stuff am I actually using, which, then it just keeps preventing. Me from making impulse purchases right like I'm like I know that I don't need to go stock, up on stuff because it takes a long time to actually use things up so.
That Was sort of a regret, but one. Thing that did happen was four or four and a half months into it Black, Friday came up and one. Of the things that I had done when, I started. The, shopping ban was I unsubscribe from basically everything, and I also unfollowed. Like all retailers, on social media and so. I thought I was doing great like I wasn't really getting those emails anymore I wasn't being told about all the different things I could buy so, I thought I was doing good and then somehow on Black Friday I got an email from my favorite bookstore and, I. Actually. Talked. Myself in to. Buying something so. I talked. Myself into and like it was really this exercise after, that. Like cuz it happened so quickly and like people, call that impulse purchases and in that moment I was like I should this a lot before and it feels a lot more like a blackout purchase we're like it's so quick and then all of a sudden you have a confirmation, email that's like here's this thing you did you're, like wait I did what think, how much did I just spend so. On, Black, Friday that, happened so, all of a sudden I see that I have an e-reader like a confirmation, I have bought a new ereader I immediately. Cancel the order and then go what, just happened and I, realized, there are so many stories we tell ourselves to, justify, something and it's, not that the e-reader, would, have been bad per, se mine, was broken so these are like the stories I was telling myself mine, was broken, it did work but you had to you know like the reset, pin, or like little hole yet to stick a pin in I had to do that every time I wanted to turn it on so I sort of had to have a pin available. At all times, so. It it sort of would have helped, me, but. I didn't need it I didn't, actually need it so I'm telling myself all this stuff and like you haven't bought yourself anything in so long and you've never seen it this low before in price and, and all, this stuff and it happened so quickly and then you just make the purchase and so. I think it it wasn't, a regret, because, actually. Something I realized that year was that past, me any time I would have sort of like screwed up a challenge, or like gone off track old me would have been really, hard on myself and sort of just shamed myself and made myself feel really really bad for it and that. Was the first time I was like I have to take this as a learning experience instead. Figure, out what just happened so that going forward I can just start changing, my behavior or or, becoming, more cognizant, like in that specific. Example of like what, are the stories I tell myself before thinking, about making a purchase. Hi. This, is probably, quite a difficult question, but. I wondered having gone through everything you've gone through and, thinking about everything, in. The way that you have what, are your thoughts on, how. Far your. Behavior in the past was, kind, of innate human, behavior, how much was it based on the context, we all find ourselves and now where there's so much stuff, available, no. It's a really good question so, it's. Sort of two parts or just like part. Of it is I don't know because, I don't know what my old spending, was, like. When I got into debt especially I'd. Never tracked spending in my life right I just kept, seeing that my balance was growing and I stopped I truly it, was so bad I stopped looking at my credit cards I just saw that the balance was growing and as long as I could make the minimum. Payment I felt like I was gonna be okay and, so I don't know honestly what old me really spent money on, I'm, guessing. There was probably not, only social like, influence from things like social media but just generally, social influence like when your friends are doing something you just do it too I also. Know parts, of my debt came from partying too much or just in the sense of like I never wanted to say no so, anytime the friends asked me to hang out I would just say yes even, if it meant I was putting it on credit.
So. I don't know like I'm sure there's a mix of kind of both there but. I, do know at the end of the day when I look at some of the things that I was buying and some of the stuff I was spending money on and especially with partying, like, so much of my self-worth was wrapped up in the fact that I was a really good partier and people loved partying, with me and I, truly like as soon as I quit drinking I almost had like an identity crisis, of just like I don't even know what. I'm good at or why people would want to be friends with me or want to hang out with me. Because. That was my life my life was so revolved. Around partying, that I just didn't get it so, not, only in trying to figure that out and then decluttering, and looking at some of my stuff I'm like there's so much stuff I used, to do for the wrong reason like I just didn't understand who I was as a person and. In. Starting to just like kind of let stuff go that was the first time I really started to figure it out I don't like the answers were so simple I'm like I'm a writer I'm a reader so like I like books like I'm, a writer I'm a reader I hike a lot I'm. A sister, like, I'm a friend I'm a daughter like. Who I am, they're actually all pretty simple things and so once I sort of figured that's about it, just made spending, easier now but old me I don't. Know I'd say a Big Macs. No. And. Like how regimen did you get like when you first started like did you were, you like watching how much water you're using in the shower and that sorta, oh is it just spending just, betting just say yeah yeah no just betting, ya, know it's a good question though because that's, sort of a topic, in general that's pretty hot right now to of like extreme for gala tee and the things that people will do to sort of cut back that. For. Me has never quite aligned with like who I am or what I'm about cuz like I said I still went, to restaurants, and I bought something if I needed it like there were a few things that year and I think women can probably relate to this like I only.
Owned One, pair of jeans and they ripped in the inner thigh like, that only lasts for so long like you can only fix that so many times before you have to replace that. So. So no it wasn't about like spending, no money it was really for the first time like having, to ask myself like why I'm thinking of buying something I almost, think, to like make a visual of it like it. Was kind of putting a barrier between me and every single purchase were you almost are like hitting a pause button and like asking yourself a few questions before you're doing it so, instead of just automatically. Making the purchase getting the thing it was kind of like hitting pause and just going huh, like do, I really need this thing what's going on in my head right now how am I feeling what's going on in my life, what influencers, are around me right now like what's going on. Yeah. Thank. You very much that cake thank you. You.