Over the past two months, I’ve been doing a challenge to remove alcoholic drinks from my life entirely. It’s called “One Year No Beer” and is entirely free (as of now). I found in the first 60 days of the 90-day challenge I’ve started to change in more ways than I could’ve imagined. Removing that spending category has also opened up quite a bit of savings from my bi-weekly allowance. I find myself with extra spending money each month, just saving it aside. In addition, I started an elimination diet with the 8SAFE program to focus on my health and get back to square one while finishing the 90 day OYNB challenge and that, too, has changed how I view food and social situations entirely.
The choices to change who I am, how I look, how I eat, and how I react to stressful situations didn’t cost as much as not making these personal changes and continuing to spend money on alcohol or processed foods. These hard choices not only are changing who I am at the core in a healthy way but also are putting cash back in my pocket; as side effect I hadn’t entirely considered before trying them.
Some of the ways we spend money to change ourselves could be otherwise diverted to debt-freedom or other goals.
No Gym Membership Needed
I’m the first to say how much I love having a gym membership and have found the gym to be a place of solace. I have enjoyed it for over a decade off and on, but this past year I let it expire once and for all. With two young children, I don’t “get out” for exercise like before, and to add in the time to/from the gym vs. playing in the playground it’s not worth it for me anymore.
If you want to get stronger you don’t need a special gym membership to do so; really, we don’t. We can lift items we have around our house, do bodyweight exercises, or help others with projects that require muscles. Or just play with your kids at the playground and get some pull-ups in while they hang on your back. And no, I cannot do this… yet.
If you want to have more endurance or be able to walk up a flight of stairs without losing your breath, start at home or at a store with stairs to walk up and down each day. Walking is a great way to release stress and help your body at the same time. It has even been proven to be beneficial for a myriad of health problems. Who knew, a simple 10-minute walk every day…
Skip the Data Devices
Chris and I bought Jawbone Up devices after the holidays that were on clearance for $25 each. We had a gift card to use, so they ended up costing us only $25 total for two devices. We wore them all day every day for 4 months, finding out how little or how much we walked. Once the batteries died, we purchased new batteries but have pretty much left the devices on the counter. We know through some of the feedback that yes, we needed to walk more, and we are now just putting into practice more of an effort to walk and do more on our feet.
Instead of falling into the trap of needing more data, we could’ve challenged each other to walk more each day and discussed it at the end of the day. We did that anyway, just tracking every step along the way. Sometimes now I’ll wear my device on days I know I won’t be doing a whole lot, to encourage myself to move, but otherwise more steps have just become a part of life.
Forget the Creams, Potions, and Latest Fashions
As a woman, we’re constantly being pressured to buy new clothing or make-up to look our best. I believe the tide is turning for men, as well. We’re sold the idea that these items will somehow change us and how we feel about ourselves.
Since I’ve stopped buying clothes over six months ago, I’ve learned to care much less about how fashionable I am and what others think. I look to practical items that fit well and have begun to pare down what I do own as I return to my pre-pregnancy weight again. I’ve saved money, time at the store and while getting dressed, and I have a new appreciation for what I do own. I also have a better appreciation for my body, as it’s no longer staring back at me in an ugly dressing room mirror wishing for some fancy item to make it look, well, fancy.
In addition, I haven’t spent a dime on make-up in years. I do not believe I currently own any make-up, as most of it only lasts a year or more before they get icky anyway. I never liked the feel of make-up on my face since childhood, so luckily I never fell into the beauty trap we’re sold at a young age. Not only is it less expensive, but it’s also better for the environment to consume fewer products that may also be harmful to animals. A simple moisturizer with sunscreen will do better than anything else.
Go to the Library
There is one area of life I would potentially, but rarely, pay to change myself: books. I believe there is a lot of knowledge in the world being shared in amazing books. Though, I don’t think it has to cost you money to learn from others.
Go to the local library, ask for a book you’re interested in. If they don’t have it, most libraries will add it to their request list for purchases.
Reading inspiring texts or life stories is a great way to change yourself for the better. If you can’t get it from your library and don’t want to spend extra for a copy, watch or listen to every interview and talk about the book by the author. This is a great way I’ve found to get a ton of information from their book without actually reading it, and still putting into practice their ideas.
The next time you’re considering purchasing something to “change yourself” in a new way consider an alternative solution. If you want to change, you can change without having to purchase something to make that change happen.
Just decide you want to change, and do it.
There are so many ways I’d like to change in the coming years, but I know it won’t be had through buying a shortcut. Incremental steps, small at times, is the best way to getting to your goals. This works well in finance as well as in other areas of life.