I first announced that I’d be doing a spending freeze on Instagram a few weeks ago (you can watch the video here). I’ve heard from so many people who are supporting this shift and have also received a number of questions. I felt it would be helpful to write a post answering a couple of the main questions that have come up along the way.
Let’s get into it!
I was taking a deeper look at our finances with the business and the amount of projects we had going on. I was spending a lot to go fast (i.e., hiring out work instead of doing it myself). It was expensive, it was stressful, and it felt like it was necessary until I actually paused and asked… is it?
I ultimately realized I was getting caught up in spending because of the way I thought things were supposed to be. It’s very jarring to live in a beautiful house, have everything the way you want it, and still feel empty. (This is not intended to complain or seek pity! It’s simply an honest reflection on how constantly seeking improvement doesn’t necessarily improve your life at its core.) That realization was a good wake-up call for me. It was a good opportunity to ask myself whether my spending was aligned with how I’m actually comfortable living.
I was spending a lot to go fast. . . . It was expensive, it was stressful, and it felt like it was necessary until I actually paused and asked… is it?
The other more personal reason I started a spending freeze is that I am impulsive. Spending money has always been an all or nothing thing for me. My therapist views it as a behavior that’s both a compulsion and a coping mechanism. When that kind of spending is justifiable for work, it becomes even more complicated. I wanted to figure out what I was trying to address with a hit of dopamine from buying something rather than sitting with whatever feeling I was experiencing. For me, what this is getting to the root of is ultimately deeper than solely a budget issue.
This particular spending freeze is essentially a hold on any big projects. This includes anything I would hire a contractor for or anything that costs more than ~$1K. Right now, at the start of the freeze, we’re not really spending any money on projects at all. I can already see that this is pushing me to be more creative in the kinds of micro-projects I am pursuing.
The thing about work projects (which, in my case, typically relate to home decor) is that costs spiral quickly. Even though I work with sponsored partners and am gifted pieces as well, there are still plenty of costs associated with designing a home. Tasks like hiring someone to hang wallpaper or paint a room add up fast.
This spending cap for projects also helps me think about how I want to execute projects in the future, after the spending freeze has ended. Things will be planned instead of rushed on impulse. That way, I can really decide what’s important, where I want to spend, and where I want to save. I think there’s more room out there in the realm of content for this kind of slow design approach.
I’m almost entirely on a spending freeze when it comes to buying new clothes (although I’m occasionally gifted clothing from brands). I found myself in a closet full of clothes unsure what to wear, and I knew something had to shift.
We’re also planning our meals a little bit more so what we need for any given dish is already in the fridge or pantry. I love to cook off the cuff but sometimes when I’m tired and don’t want to spend the energy deciding what to make, it’s easy to just order takeout.
There’s a middle ground between completely ignoring an issue, want, or need and addressing the issue, want, or need immediately. Whenever I really want something, I find that it’s helpful to write it down and make it a tangible thing on paper, then pause before buying. If after some time it’s still front of mind for me, I’ll consider buying it. If I forgot about it, it’s ultimately not something I need to purchase.
I designed this spending freeze around my own mental health and my personal life, which is different from other people’s. If you’re interested in trying this for yourself, I’d encourage you to take the time to reflect on areas in your own life where you’d like to make some changes. Spending freezes go far beyond the health of your wallet. They’re also about making more peace with who you are as a consumer.
I would like to continue this through the summer. I’d like to go long enough that I feel a significant shift in how I spend money to solve “problems” in my life. This especially relates to those that could be solved by pausing, finding calm, and moving forward in a thoughtful way.
I hope this helped clarify some things for anyone who was curious to know more! If you have any other questions, please feel free to shout them out in the comments below.
BY Kate Arends - May 23, 2022
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.