Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working on (and have written about) a pretty intense cleaning/decluttering of junk I’ve accumulated in my life. It hasn’t been a quick or easy process, but I’ve been pretty thorough about eliminating each piece of trash I’ve saved for some unknown reason, every ugly gift from an ex I felt bad donating to Goodwill, and every item of worn-out clothing I’ll never wear again.
However, even more so than physical decluttering of my belongings, I’ve eliminated a lot of other things from my life recently to try and make it all feel a little bit easier as I approach this upcoming busy-as-heck semester. Some of the things eliminated are actual things, some are ideas, some are attitudes, and some are even people. But deleting all of this no-good crap from my life is helping me move towards some sort of financial and emotional health, so it is entirely worth it. Eliminating these five things from my life has brought me sanity, and effortlessly saved me a little extra money in the process.
1. All email subscriptions to any stores/signing up for anything that will ~save me 20%~
I actually love these, because sales are a freaking blessing and I love being on those “exclusive” email lists to get all the “best deals” first. But obviously it is just some true bullshit. I keep buying stuff I don’t need because an email convinces me that I actually do need it, especially because it is 75% off for a limited time only. I bought a subscription to a magazine I didn’t want a few weeks ago because they told me it was my last chance. How did I let that work on me? Sigh.
2. My Pinterest app.
I had to get rid of this for similar reasons as above — Pinterest is a spending trap for me. I get so many ideas for DIY projects that cost way more than they’re worth, or interior decorating ideas that are so entirely unnecessary for my home. It is bad news. I haven’t deleted my account, but I did delete the app from my phone, which is a start. Public Pinterest-ing is a huge issue of mine, because getting an idea on-the-go makes it way easier for me to spend money on that idea. I’ll delete the account entirely, someday… maybe. Probably not. I’m not that strong.
3. Excessively negative people.
Something about being perpetually sad makes you want to spend money to try and fix your problems. Even if you’re not the sad one, being around huge bummers is so emotionally exhausting that it might cause you to fall into their bad habits to try and escape the misery, even if that just means a “cheap” happy hour to commiserate that ends up costing a ton because you go way past the actual “happy” hour. I’ve found that the negative people in my life are always the ones who will convince me I need to go drinking or shopping or make some otherwise unnecessary purchase, and those are people I really don’t need hanging around my life and bringing me down while I’m trying to carve some sort of financially-sound path in life.
4. My reliance on most hair and makeup products.
I did write about my beauty budget a few weeks back, but I’ve since revised it (adjusting for some pricier skincare, and other changes I made). One of the biggest adjustments to that budget was swearing off most of my makeup. Getting rid of most of the makeup products I owned = getting rid of my reliance on them. I used to wear a lot of makeup on a daily basis (mostly because I was having skin issues for a bit), and I also experimented with lots of different products and colors, generally enjoying the process of applying it and trying new things. However, as cool as I think it is to be really into makeup and have a lot of it to play around with, it isn’t really my thing, and not having all the products around reminds me that I don’t actually need them in my morning routine, nor do I need to replace them when they’re gone. I feel a lot lighter now that it isn’t really an important part of my life, or something I need to consider for my budget, outside of a few basics.
Also, staying on the topic of beauty, I have sworn off of coloring my hair at the ripe age of 22. (Maybe I’ll pick it back up when I start to go gray in the far future.) I played around with hair color during my high school days, mostly experimenting with dark shades of brown and some unnaturally vibrant reds. Now, my hair is about 12 different colors depending on the day, and I’m kind of just letting it be and respecting its personal journey. Hair coloring has cost me anywhere between $4 for a box to $65+ at a salon, and I don’t think I’m willing to spend that at this point in my life just for kicks. I think I’ll be able to deal with the dark-brown-meets-sad-auburn color that my hair has naturally settled on for a bit.
5. My insane restlessness.
I am the type to hop from one thing to the next — ideas, projects, relationships, majors, schools, jobs, hobbies — you name it. I have a hard time settling on how to spend the days of my life, and although I’ve sometimes wondered if it is because I’m not content with what I’m doing or where I’m at, I actually believe it is just because I genuinely like a lot of different things. I need to learn how to get rid of my internal-FOMO. I don’t have a huge fear of missing out on social events, but I do always think that if I get really into this hobby,
I’ll miss out on having fun doing that one, or if I choose this major, I’ll miss out on all the stuff I could have learned in the other one, or if I choose this job, I’ll miss out on knowledge/experience/money/benefits I could have gotten from a different one. I need to kind of chill the fuck out and accept that, if I’m enjoying the thing I’m doing, I need to stop wondering if there’s a thing I might enjoy just a tiny bit more out there. I want to shift over to a place where I only try to make huge changes in my life when I’m truly not satisfied with how my life is going. This saves me a lot financially and emotionally, because starting fresh in a new job or program of study or hobby is not usually a cheap or easy process. I’ve been trying extra hard to just relax, and enjoy exactly what my life is.
Mary is the summer Media Fellow at The Financial Diet. Send her your summer intern stories (your lessons, failures, triumphs and good advice) at firstname.lastname@example.org