Help Me with Accountability

I’m going to ask you all for a favor. I want to hold myself more accountable for my spending–both sticking to my no-shopping ban over the summer and how I spend on food and consumables–and I’ve heard one good way to do that (increase accountability) is to join a group or enlist friends. I’m too lazy to go looking for an online group I can join (the prospect is daunting) and I’m too embarrassed to share my financial shortcomings with the friends I’ve made this year. The only place I feel comfortable enough putting myself out there is in this space. So I’m going to post a weekly budget update, complete with screen shots of my updated budget app. This will require I actually update my budget regularly and it will mean that you all will be able to see what I spend my money on. I really do think I’d make different spending choices if I knew all of you would eventually see them. It’s not that I think you’d shame or even criticize me for how I spend my money, but I know you’d be honest in your commentary.

And I hope you will.

{I also know I’d more closely scrutinize my choices if I knew I had to share them.}

So what exactly am I asking of you? Just to help me hold myself accountable by gently reminding me if I ever miss a weekly post. Updates will be over the weekend (I’m being ambiguous on the day to give myself a little leeway as far as getting the posts up goes) and they will cover the Sunday through Friday of the week before. If Monday rolls around and I haven’t posted my budget, I’d really appreciate it if you’d call me out on it (nicely of course). And if you notice I’m eating out a lot, or have a suggestion for a way I could avoid purchasing something, please feel free to offer those comments. I need help on this, and I am humbly asking for it.

If I make a big purchase {::cough:: Costco ::cough::} I will include an itemized list of what I bought and how much it cost. Hopefully there won’t be too many of those because I won’t be buying much this summer.

My no-shopping ban starts on Saturday, the first official day of summer. I’ve decided there will be no book, toy or clothing purchases until 2016 (the only exception is for my daughter’s Kindergarten uniform, which is different than her Pre-K uniform was). This is where I needlessly spend my money and even I can recognize that we don’t need anything in those areas for the next six months. This summer is the juice cleanse before the overhauled diet. Changes will be made.

{I haven’t decided how to deal with Christmas, but I figure I’ll have a better idea of how to handle it after six months of not buying stuff than I do now.}

So, will you join me in my budgetary overhaul, and help me hold myself accountable? I would really appreciate it.

Have you ever joined a group to hold yourself accountable for a weight loss, diet or financial goal? Did it help you achieve your goal?

19 Comments

  1. Ok, I’m not a good person for this bc I don’t subscribe to absolute austerity. But I would gently point out that you have two small children of different genders who are growing-/how can you go without buying clothes (unless you already have larger sizes ready). And no toys even for Xmas? You don’t want to set yourself up to fail.

    1. We’ve been buying my daughter clothes in the next size up for a couple of months and I even have most of what I need for her uniform next year (I’ve been checking the sale racks for a couple months). She basically only wears nightgown dresses when she’s not in her uniform and she has PLENTY of those for the next six months (too many, really). We just moved my son (who is only 18 months) into 2T clothes and I’m sure they’ll fit until the new year. If they don’t we are lucky enough to have a hefty amount of hand-me-downs for him, which is so helpful (almost all of his clothes are hand-me-downs and he has PLENTY). We can go to the library for books and we DEFINITELY don’t need to buy any more. As for toys, my daughter just had her birthday and got way more than she needs. My in-laws are always giving her things she doesn’t need. And as a I said, I’m not sure what we’ll do for Christmas but I’m sure we’ll be buying a few things then.

      (I REALLY want to revamp how we give presents because my kids get WAY too much right now and they aren’t grateful for what they have. I want to stop that because I think it’s one of the reasons I have such a big problem with spending (I got too much as a kid), so I want to drastically reduce what they get during the holidays. I’m hoping not buying much in the months before will help me have a new outlook on Christmas when it comes.)

  2. I’m definitely on board to help you out! But—I agree with working mom above—I think you may be setting yourself up to fail if you say you will buy NOTHING. Instead, I tell myself (through the budget I made) that I can only spend X on kids’ clothes or birthday gifts, or whatever you anticipate coming up. Maybe no clothes/things for YOURSELF may be more feasible. I started a savings goal for “gifts” that include birthdays/christmas for the kids and I’m putting x amount aside each month for it (I think its like $40/month, not a ton). We have a very small budget for “household items” (that we’ve overspent, since we had to replace something large) that’s for replacing really necessary things and buying things for the garden. Its easy to do this in YNAB, one of the many reasons I love that app.

    1. I tried only spending a certain amount on clothes and toys and other non-necessities and honestly, I couldn’t stick with in my budget. As I said, I SUCK at moderation. I gave myself four months to try it and I didn’t succeed in keeping to my pre-decided amounts ONE time. So I’m not giving myself that opportunity anymore. Maybe, once I get used to not buying anything, I can stick within a budget again, but honestly, I think I need a really swift kick in the pants to get to that point.

      1. That makes sense. You really seem to know yourself and what does/doesn’t work for you. I am 100% going to support you!
        I guess buying my kids clothes isn’t a trigger for me—mine were buying clothes for myself, eating out, and buying books. I went cold turkey on those but was able to stick to low amounts for kids clothes (I only buy 7 cheap bottoms/tops for B each season, and then L just wears hand me downs, i am never EVER tempted to buy clothing for my kids, maybe a boy thing? Maybe because I know they won’t appreciate it?). I also don’t get tempted much to buy toys for my kids because grandparents give them SO MUCH we don’t know what to do with all of it.

  3. I disagree with the commenters above that you should line item amounts you can spend or you’re setting yourself up to fail. Like you said, moderation isn’t your strong suit, and you need to hit the reset button. I 100% get this. No clothing, toys or books for the kids until 2016… hm… I think I’ll join you in this. My kids have plenty of toys and books, and other than a new winter coat for Stella, I think they have all the clothes they will need as well. I love this idea! Accountability definitely helps too. Good luck!

    1. Can we form a group to keep each other accountable? I need a reset too! Ever since we started trying to budget I have been sucking at staying within budget. :/. I’m willing to post on my blog on the weekends too to keep abreast week by week. I just need to figure out what my reset will look like.

  4. EVIL EVIL EVIL. I am SO PROUD OF YOU. You are setting such an example…which is why I am calling you evil. I am now faced with all my excuses about why I should not take the same pledge.
    Ahem.
    Best instant ‘loophole’ was that I do not blog myself. (Not really convincing is it?!)
    Anyway. Loveliest part of your action is that I will be watching myself as well.
    And, like any decision of this sort you will always have the ability to modify the plan IF needed. This is how The Compact started. One thing many compactors did was keep a list of things they wanted to buy new on their Jubilee Day at the end of their stated time period. And they talked about how that list altered over the year and how things fell off without being acquired and how few items still were there when Jubilee happened.
    TOTALLY PROUD OF YOU! Totally on your team!

    1. Thanks. I was thinking that maybe after the two month freeze I could open up spending to used items only. I had a blog about doing that for half a year but I abandoned the project. I hope I can stick with all of this this year.

  5. Oooh oooh, can you get some kind of ticker? I love money-related tickers. I’m not sure what would be best… maybe #days without buying clothing/toys/etc.? $ saved is harder when you’re doing a no-spend thing because I think it forces you to think about purchases.

    I suppose you could do it like people who do Food Waste Fridays only with Spending Mondays or something.

    I totally agree with your all-or-nothing strategy based on what you’ve said about your personality. One thing I might suggest though is starting out for a month– month-long challenges are really helpful for getting into the groove without going crazy, and then re-adjusting at the end of the month based on what you’ve learned about yourself (and what worked, what didn’t work, and what to do with the extra money), then making a new contract with yourself at that point. That way you can do all or nothing but you won’t feel like you should give up in the first month because the end is too far away and you’ll have a better idea for what to carry forward.

    I LOVE reading about money challenges. My favorite parts are the, “what I’ve learned” posts. It’s all so very interesting.

    1. I think I’ll start with the summer, because that is a very specific amount of time that feels set apart from the rest of the year, and it’s coming after a little spending binge, so I can look back on that and remember why I’m stopping for two months. After that 8 weeks I can reassess, but honestly, there is no NEED for me to spend for the next six months, so I hope I can stick with it.

      I will look into getting a ticker.

  6. I like it. We are taking you up on part of the challenge and buying no music, no clothes, and no toys until school starts and/or September (aside from a third sweater for me and replacements for a couple spouse necessities). I will investigate how we could share that we met those goals and I like the ticker idea. There must be a gadget for that somewhere.

  7. I wanna join in!! I’m working off of very little sleep this week, so I can’t be eloquent…but count me in! I wish we could just all be on a Facebook group together!

  8. Good luck!! I did Weight Watchers, on & off for years, starting around the time I turned 30. I lost 35 lbs & kept it off for several years (after that, I was less successful in losing it again… oh well…!). Knowing I would have to face the scale every week (albeit in privacy with just the group leader) was an incentive, and it was nice to be in a group setting where we could celebrate successes and exchange tips, etc.

    1. Thanks for wishing me luck. I’m going to need it. (I also did Weight Watchers and found it very helpful. It was definitely my most productive dieting strategy.)

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