Tailspin and Epic Fail

Ha ha - well, what a disaster!

Back a couple of weeks ago I posted about my keenness to try a spend-nothing challenge here.  I had sincerely hoped that by spending nothing at all that this would assist in taming my inner spending demon (whom I nick-name Smaug) once and for all. How wrong was I.

As you all know, I still consider myself to be a recovering consumerist and whilst I have curbed this habit massively and consistently, I have nevertheless been recently searching for ways to kill off the last voices of that spend-demon within.  Hence the crack at me trying a no-spend challenge.

Instead of strangling the last bits of life out of that inner demon, I accidentally brought it to life again! Aargh! It was nearly as if my total eschewing of money and spending were the tipping point to bring Smaug out of the dungeon screaming and flapping with truly frightening power. This was totally unexpected and rather disheartening actually.

Now, don't get me wrong, I have the hugest respect and admiration for those folk who do no-spend weeks, months and years - but just like using cash, the spend-nothing challenge was not for me. Simply speaking, it made me feel worse, awakened emotions of deprivation, and triggered some old spend-a-holic habits.

So I'm back to my allowance every fortnight.  I guess my $40 personal allowance each fortnight is still pretty frugal in the grand scheme of things.

It is nice to share wins and uber-encouraging content with you all, but I think it is just as important to share failures too. It's called keeping it honest and real. I'm amongst friends anyway luckily.

So, did I give up too easily? ..... or was I wise to bail out? Your collective wisdom on this question would be great folks.

Take care and stay nice folks.



  1. Doing everything you are doing is enough...you have a small allowance and being frugal doesn't mean you have to go without everything. Enjoy your allowance and keep doing what you are doing. You can do a couple of no spend days but then again if you only have $20 a week then it doesn't matter if it's $5 one day $2 another day....you are doing well.

  2. Phil, it's very good to know what we are good at and not. The most important thing is that you tried. I think we each has our own way to be frugal. We learn from others, inspired by their methods, but at the end we have to fine tune everything we learn so it matches our own circumstances.
    In the long run you will save more by giving yourself an allowance than trying not to spend at all.

  3. Don’t beat yourself up too much. We all make mistakes. Just keep getting back on that horse! You make up your own ‘rules’ for living your life. You’re allowed to change them as you see fit.

  4. Bit like going on a diet - and suddenly start reading recipe books and looking more closely at the shelves of supermarkets!

  5. I have a small crafting budget, £7.50 a week. I save it up and buy what I need when I need it, if I took it away I know that I would be spending far more. Instead I am working happily through the stash knowing that it is building up nicely.

    1. I like the idea of a small craft budget...I'll be borrowing that idea...

  6. Don't be hard on yourself, you are an example to us all.

  7. "There are no failures, only lessons."

  8. We all fall off the wagon, the lesson is knowing you fell, getting up, dusting yourself down and noting the issue and going forward.

  9. I think it's a bit like going on a starvation diet - sometimes the damn will burst and there will be a binge! Taking the middle path is probably a lot more doable and humane :-)

    The thing is, by having an allowance and mindfully spending you are already far ahead of the rest of the crowd. I used to have zero spend and zero waste aspirations and tried to grow as much food as humanly possibly. I got burnt out and also realised the world just isn't set up to support those goals. I was starting to feel poverty and struggle in the midst of abundance, how crazy! Now I just aim for 'enough' - knowing what is enough to have and do, but not too much.


  10. I'm like that with chocolate, if I deny myself totally, well, there goes a whole bar in one sitting, but if I allow myself a little each week, lots easier to control. $40 a fortnight is still frugal. Cheers Lyndie

  11. You seem to me a person very conscious and methodical in tracking where your money goes so even though you might not have done the "No Spend" thing, I'm sure you're not in danger of a massive overspend or "blowout". And I'm pretty sure you won't have a xmas credit card hangover come January either;) Meg

  12. Mr.HM I think you are doing really well regardless.

  13. Mr HM, your to hard on yourself. As the Barefoot Investor says we need some sanity money. I am rather impressed with your $40.00 allowance. You tried to spend nothing and it was not for you. I say 'Well Done for trying'!

  14. I know just what you mean. A spend free week/month is not for me either. If I have a small amount of cash available to me I find it so easy to not spend it, it's just not something I think about. But knowing I'm on a spending diet awakens something in me and it's all I think about. A small monthly allowance works for me so I go with it.

  15. you did well, i like the above comment about the no failures but lessons :)) we all need a little something otherwise we feel deprived of everything.
    thanx for sharing

  16. I tried a no spend month this fall and it sent me completely over the rails...not buying anything frivolous, just made me notice every sale item I might normally stock up on for long term savings...but as it's been said, lessons learned...another former consumerist here...

  17. Like others have said - take the lessons and leave behind the recriminations. I think the thing that really changed my consumer mindset was getting crystal clear on my values. So rather than thinking 'don't spend, don't spend' I started to think 'if i could spend on anything would I choose this - is this of value to me' or some variation.
    Cheers, laura

  18. Phil you did well I might say and also worked out that a no spend month was not for you in the process. In our home we call that a learning curve and treat it as something we know doesn't work for us.

    I will add here that most financial advisors do recommend you "treat yourself" when you reach certain goals. Now that doesn't have to be a big treat it can be something as small as a block of chocolate.

    Instead of the no spend challenge we instead work on being frugal all year round by checking prices on everything and buying things at the lowest prices to save money where we can throughout the year.

    At the end of each year what we have over what our budget specifies we will save will be what we have available to spend in December that year and January the following year.

    This year we have a $3000+ surplus in our budget over our targeted budget savings. We will not spend all of that but DH and I will carefully consider any new equipment, homewares, food storage, clothing, shoes and other things that we "need" to replace or add to the household.

    I figure that since we save on average 44% of our after tax joint incomes in a year for building our forever home, that some spending for necessary things and some small "treats" during the year is a must.

    Without that we too break loose and spend too much as we feel "deprived" to some extent.


  19. Our no-spend family challenge, ended pretty much for the same reasons. My husband was the spendthrift, and I was the scrooge. It doesn't work, with such a cocktail of contradictions. You have to be committed, or not. He was unable to see the point in working so hard for financial liberty, only to deprive yourself from enjoying it.

    I can respect that. If you work incredibly hard, there should be an opportunity to enjoy the fruits of those labours. Even if they have to be in limited proportions, to keep Smaug at bay. :)

  20. Folks - your collective wisdom is palpable - thank you all so much!


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