Mindful and Unmindful Spending This Year

Tuesday afternoon trail run in RMNP, thanks to microspikes!

I have gone through waves of mindful and unmindful spending in my life. It usually will revolve around ‘survival mode.’ If things are busy at work or we have visitors coming to stay, or are traveling, I go into ‘survival mode.’ Or, if I have a problem, I think I can fix it with spending (this can be true…sometimes). The feeling of spending money is kind of like blacking out; you don’t even realize how much you’re coughing up when handing over the credit card is so easy and so ‘necessary.’

Here is a list of Mindful and Unmindful things I have spent money on in the last year (I’m not including my husband on his own purchases that he has, because it’s not my spending story to tell 🙂 )

Unmindful:

  1. An 89.00 a month Pilates membership for 3 months (when I already climb at the gym, so I pay for that 70.00 membership too) that was actually really hard to cancel and I didn’t even use all of my punch passes. I had a minor shoulder injury/irritation this winter, and I thought Pilates would help. While it was a nice change of pace, it was not worth 89.00, especially since I rarely even used it! I also lost my credit card one night and forgot to tell the Pilates place what my new card was, so I got hit with a late fee because my payment didn’t go through. Lesson learned.
  2. Unlimited Tanning for 100.00 a month for 5 months. Please don’t shame me! I like a spray tan every now and then (and I have to admit, the warm feeling in the dead of winter. I’ve replaced that habit with a hot bath.). This went on for about five months. Yikes. When your husband’s a doctor and you’re willfully exposing your Scottish/German skin the UV rays, the cognitive dissonance is real, y’all. He definitely gave me major side-eye whenever I came back from the salon. Will now only reserve spray tanning for special occasions.
  3. Buying grocery food without a plan. I don’t really even have any data on this, but I’d say at least 20.00 worth of food per month is wasted in our house. I really dislike going to the grocery, thinking about going to the grocery, etc. Being part time nowadays helps; I can go in the morning or early afternoon so it’s not too bad. However, sometimes I’ll just waltz in there, thinking that some divine inspiration will strike, grabbing some ingredients that sound like they’ll go together. Often, this ends up in unused raw vegetables sitting in my fridge (and sometimes meat). Big waste of money and a waste for the environment.
  4. Sephora free shipping membership renewal. In a true holiday shopping blackout last year, I signed up for free Sephora shipping. It was 15.00 and renewed in March of this year. Um, who’s going to remember that unless you put it in your Google Calendar to cancel, which I did not? So now I’ve got free shipping. I guess if you want something from Sephora and don’t want to pay for shipping, hit me up…with my revamped view of spending, I doubt I’ll be buying anything from there anytime soon.
  5. Fast fashion clothing. This is probably at least 200.00 for the past year; potentially more. I have a TJ Maxx problem. I’ve actually banned myself from TJ Maxx. Then broke the ban, once, this year…but didn’t buy any clothing, I swear! I will sometimes buy seasonal trends that cycle out of style pretty quickly. Nothing crazy, but definitely not mindful. For example, I bought a topshop shirt from Nordstrom (a crop top) that I know just isn’t going to fly once I’m in my 30s. Can you say quarter-life identity crisis purchase?

Mindful Purchases

  1. The Roomba. Pricetag: 600.00. Oh, the glorious Roomba. The only robot (who am I kidding, smartphones are basically robots) I’ll allow in my house. It was my husband’s idea; I balked at the price tag, but the thing really is a time-saver when you have two dogs and like to keep the floors clean. I would say this saves me at least two hours a week. Now I can clean other things (yay?).
  2. Microspikes for Trail Running. Pricetag: 80.00. We’ve had a snowy winter here in Colorado. I really dislike skiing (dealing with the ski crowds) around here. Makes me want to up and move to Montana, except for the fact that I’d freeze. So, I realized that the thing I love to do (climbing) cannot be done (it can, I just don’t have the resources or stoke to ice climb right now), but I can do the other thing I kind of like to do, which is run longish distances in nature. The freedom of moving through the mountains at the warp speed of 20 minutes per mile is invigorating—and even more so when you’re about to slip on frozen snowmelt on the north side of the trail. Microspikes saved my sanity this winter. The cover image for this post is from a Tuesday afternoon in April up in Rocky Mountain National Park; just me, my husband, and our microspikes, about 3 miles into the snowpacked trails. They inspire much confidence; I can’t wait to break em out again next winter.
  3. Firewood. I have the privilege of having a wood-burning fireplace in my home and a fire pit outside. Growing up in the country makes you yearn for an evening by the fire; I have fond and annoying memories of having to get up early and put wood in our wood-burning stove to heat the house (and convincing my younger sister into doing it for me—perks of being the oldest). The fireside makes me feel so much better about pretty much anything—while it can be expensive around here, it really does help the seasonal depression.
  4. Paprika Meal Planning App. I found out about this app from Choose FI. It is magical. You create your own meal planning database with the ability to save any recipe accessible on the internet, converting those meals to meal plans, grocery lists, menus, etc. This is making me far more mindful about my grocery time, and is actually providing me with systems so I can avoid decision fatigue around meal planning. The planner in me is hooked. I love it.
  5. Used Outdoor Apparel. I have a slight addiction to outdoor apparel. Climbing pants and jackets and fleeces are my jam. My justification is that I live in Colorado, I do outside things, so I should have outside clothes. The best moments of my life have happened while on a climbing trip or by a lake. The right layering system can make or break your experience in the elements. It is not a place to skimp on. I’ve tried. However, you don’t really need to ever buy a piece of clothing brand-new/full price. Have you been on the Internet? Lots of great ways to find things. Lots of great second-hand stores to buy things. One of my favorite sites is Poshmark. I’ve sold and bought on Poshmark, and their cut is 20 percent; cheaper than most consignment shops, and more direct. The only downside is that you cannot return the item if it doesn’t fit. So get the measurements right, or if you’re like me, you gotta resell that Patagonia fleece. (I sold it for 25 dollars more than I bought it for though…so I actually made money off the transaction). REI has a wonderful used part of their website, where you can buy things that people have returned but REI can’t sell for full-price. This includes all types of gear. So, you can buy tents, sleeping bags, packs, etc. If you live around Denver, Wilderness Exchange is amazing for this. I rarely buy anything brand-new if I can help it now.
  6. A 90.00 Carved Wood Armoire that would easily be 1000.00 at an antique shop. I go through points of motivation where I own Craigslisting. I scroll, scroll, and bam—perfect score. My ‘big’ pieces of furniture are all from Craigslist, except my bed. My couch, tv console, bedside tables, dining table, dining chairs, are all from Craigslist. The rest of it is that we couldn’t find on Craigslist is from Ikea. The armoire gives some character to our dining room, but most importantly, it’s a storage place for toilet paper and extra blankets (#oldhouseprobs). I love it, and it was 90.00 (160 if you include the Uhaul I had to rent to transport it…and you should!) Finding furniture on Craigslist is the perfect frugal hack. A year into buying our home, and we’ve got all the furniture we would need, thanks to Craigslist.

What are your mindful spends? Or unmindful? Please share! And your spending hacks, if you got ’em!

Author: SB

After a year of self-reflection after a shift in focus on my career as a high school teacher, I've taken the time to examine a lot of things--mine and my husband's finances included. With over 600k in student loan and mortgage debt, we are working to pay it off and enjoy life along the way in our home of Colorado. The first step is choosing knowledge over ignorance, which is where this blog comes in. This blog is a place to share and learn, particularly about our path to financial independence. Thank you for stopping by!

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