Update: Spending Cleanse

Spending Cleanse Update:

Time has flown by! I've been meaning to post an update on the spending cleanse before it ended but the weeks just flew on by. 

I'm not going to lie, the spending cleanse was CHALLENGING. Specially in the first few weeks. Thankfully I stuck to it! I did cave into temptation and purchased one bottle of perfume, a pair of baby booties and a few baby toys over the 14 week cleanse.

The toys were purchased for my personal sanity and our baby's growing need for a few non-household items to play it. I previously mentioned  that she loves playing with a box of tissues, but honestly, constantly finding tissues in her mouth was starting to drive me crazy. 

Other than these items I am happy to report that I stuck to the main tenets of the cleanse as outlined in my original post

So it has been over a month since the cleanse ended and I've noticed a change in my purchasing "habits." The great thing about habits is that although they can be insidious, with enough mindfulness and a plan, they can be in fact, re-set. 

During the cleanse, I discovered that I had a few audiobooks in my queue that I never listened to. Synchronistically, I found the audiobook  Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg which was a timely read. 

In the Power of Habit, Duhigg describes how habits can be re-patterned not just by individuals but also by large companies. Habits can even be formed within a community and to an extent a larger society.

In this life changing book, Duhigg draws examples on how well honed habits allowed Michael Phelps to set a new world record at the 2008 Beijing Olympics despite the fact that water had slowly seeped into his goggles, making it impossible for him to see during the race.

Duhigg also describes how the right combination of factors AND habits contributed to the beginning of the civil rights movement in Montgomery, AL, after Rosa Parks was arrested. Rosa Parks was not the first colored person who was arrested at that time, but her connection to her community was the special fuel (amongst other factors)  that ignited the fire to transform change.

If you give this book a listen, this portion of the book gives me a sliver of hope in the movement towards stricter gun control laws. Some people may call me optimistic or naive, given that gun sales increase after mass shootings, but I do believe that change can happen, given time. 

In The Power of Habit Duhigg shows how a habit, "no matter it's complexity, is malleable."  Every chapter is filled with research and real life examples of how the most addicted alcoholics can become sober, the most dysfunctional companies can transform themselves and how a high school dropout can become a successful manager.

Once we choose who we want to be, people grow to the way in which they have been exercised. Just as a sheet of paper or a coat, once creased or folded, tends to fall forever afterward into the same identical folds, IF you believe you can change, if you make it a habit, the change becomes real. This is the REAL POWER of habit.
— Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit

I don't know about you, but I find it truly fascinating how habits drives our daily decisions. It is interesting to see what factors affect our ability to change unhealthy or unwanted ingrained patterns. If there is something you'd like to see change in your life, I'd highly recommend investing some time in this book.  Power of Habit for me is another extension in cultivating mindfulness. 

So, back to the cleanse.  One thing to note after the end of the cleanse is that I experienced a very similar "easing in" period. It took me a few more weeks post cleanse to feel comfortable buying non-perishable items again.

There were a few things that I actually did need - since I am still not quite fitting into all my pre-pregnancy clothes AND the maternity ones are starting to give me a weird baggy look.

Baby also started growing out of her clothes so it was time to hit the stores. Funny thing is that when I finally convinced myself to go out and buy things, my awareness of what and how much I purchased had shifted. 

Here's a short list of observations post cleanse: 

Price consciousness:

One of the first items I purchased was my favorite eyebrow pencil that was literally down to the nib.  Once I finally went to replenish said pencil, I totally balked at the price.  I've always thought myself to be fairly price conscious, but realized that this only extended to very specific items.

Conclusion:

Moving forward I plan to extend this sensitivity to all items and fine tune by finding alternatives at a lower price. 

One is enough

After the 14 week period was over I finally decided to purchase a pair of jeans that did not incessantly dig into my c-section scar.  For anyone who's ever had a c-section, you know just how irritating the incision site can be. Itchy, burning and even painful up to a year (or more) post birth.

Even though my dear husband told me it was probably ok to purchase a pair of jeans during the cleanse, I was very adamant to stick to the challenge. So when I finally went shopping for said jeans, I found two pairs that felt comfortable and actually fit! Hurrah, so excited. 

In the past I would have just shrugged my shoulders and purchased two pairs, justifying it by telling myself that I'd finally made it to a store, but this time, one was enough.  

Conclusion: 

Continue to only purchase items that replace old, damaged clothing and only buy one item at a time. If I'm not able to make a decision between items, leave both and take a week or two (or in my case 4 weeks) to make a decision. 

Don't purchase based on emotion:

This one is a bit more personal. One discovery I found from the cleanse is that I mostly shopped and made purchases based on emotion. I won't get into the nitty gritty of what emotions drove my purchasing habits, however since I began to apply more mindfulness on the cues and triggers of what caused me to add an item to a cart or pull out my wallet, I began to see a pattern of emotions. 

Conclusion: 

Anything non-essential can be added to a favorites or a wish list. Give yourself a set time, 21-30 days before purchasing this item. If you've found that this item really wasn't something you needed and the emotion has passed, give yourself a pat on the back for saving those extra dollars. 

Capsule wardrobe:

You know, Wonder Woman only wears one suit. So does Barack Obama. As part of the cleanse I began to develop my capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe is going to look a bit different for each person, just like how minimalism is going to look different from household to household.

For me personally, the ideal capsule wardrobe means less decision fatigue.  This means fine tuning to the essentials that allow me to go about my daily life without having to figure out what to wear to yoga, to work and to social events.  It's incredibly LIBERATING to not have to think about what to wear. It's also a wonderful feeling to look at an organized closet that is not over stuffed with items.

Conclusion:

This fine tuning continues to remain an exercise in non-attachment and letting go. Even to this day I find that I still hold onto some material items because they have some sentimental value.

I have heard that attachment to material items is a type of fear. Whether it is a fear of forgetting the past or a fear of the future. Like holding onto the many pasta noodle artwork pieces my kids made for me years ago because of my fear of them growing up and leaving the nest. 

This deep rooted attachment based on my inability to let go of the past continues to be an exploration of non-clinging, of aparigraha. I remind myself that eventually I will need to release all things, titles, relationships once I'm done existing on this plane. 

The other type of fear is what the future may bring. How many times have I paused to hold on to an item because "I may need this just in case...."  

Now, it's incredibly practical to have a well thought out emergency kit for disaster preparedness, but even this can be approached methodically and minimally.  I am still currently in the midst of putting together our kit and filing a centralized plan. I will attempt to write coherently about this in the near future. 

Final Conclusion: 

There were so many benefits in addition to the ones I have listed above that I've decided to do this spending cleanse again.  This time I will aim for 6 months.  In addition, since I was able to save quite a bit over the 14 weeks of the cleanse, I plan to create a give back plan for the next 6 month period. Based on my projections I plan to give 3% of my total savings as a result of the cleanse towards charity.  I'll be asking you all for some assistance on where to send proceeds to after the cleanse is done.  

As always, thanks for reading this post and supporting me by your comments. Stay tuned for upcoming posts on creating a capsule wardrobe, my adventures in a new minimalism challenge, yoga workshops and other art projects in the works. 

With love, 

Charina