Money

No-buy February debriefing


Here I am, a day later than expected (botched the post schedule settings yesterday), looking back at my month of no-buy. And honestly, I feel like my no-buy month went pretty well overall.

February was largely about me being more conscious of my money. Besides being in a no-buy mode (with a few exceptions), I was also just generally watching my budget better. I am using one of those budgeting apps that assigns every dollar a category, and so each dollar I spent had to go somewhere. I was not actively doing a lot to change those numbers, but even being more aware has helped me in many ways.

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Money

No-Buy: Did I break the rules in my first month?


We’re two days from the end of February, and now seemed like a good time to take a look back at my first no-buy month. I say “first” because I will almost certainly continue into March, with modifications. But that is for another post.

With this post, I wanted to look back at the last four weeks and confess to you, the anonymous Internet, three times where I stepped over the line and bought things this month. While I may have violated the letter of the rules a couple of times, I feel that each of these stayed within the spirit of my midlife makeover goals.

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Food

The Ali Edwards Diet (Redux)

Towards the end of 2013, when I was in the thick of my last successful round of weight loss, I was blogging for Skeptoid (my favorite podcast, by the way, and if you’re not listening to it, you should be). As part of my blogging there that year, I wrote about the diet plan I was on at the time. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, I called it “The Ali Edwards Diet” (Edwards being the pseudonym I was writing under at the time).

It was meant to be a skeptical counterpoint to most fad diets, with their prescriptive and restrictive approaches to weight loss. And it basically laid out what I was doing at the time, what was working out so well for me … and continued to work well until I fell out of my good habits and started emotionally eating again.

Since I’m trying to rebuild those atrophied habits again, I wanted to go back an re-examine what I wrote then, and repurpose it for 2020.

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Self

What I’m Watching: “The Financial Diet”


One of the things I am trying to do with this whole midlife makeover thing is to consume a broad and varied catalog of self-help, how-to, and motivational resources. I notice that, too often, people who go on these self-improvement journeys often identify a single book or method — KonMari, or the Total Money Makeover, or the Keto Diet, or whatever — and use that method, and only that method, even if the method itself has flaws or gaps. That’s fine, for some people, but I prefer to synthesize the best elements of many approaches, in the hopes of finding one that works best for me.

So this is the first of my “Self-Improvement Library” recommendations, highlighting the sources of information and advice that I’m finding most helpful in my midlife makeover. YMMV. First up, the YouTube channel “The Financial Diet.”

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Money

The best rule I’ve adopted for my no-buy (so far)


Even now, only ten days into my no-buy as I write this, I am starting to see some of the positive changes that getting control of my bad money habits can bring. Nothing major, yet, but sometimes even a little change, tossed into the stagnant pond of bad habits, can have a ripple effect.

Take for example, what is probably my favorite rule of my no-buy so far: don’t buy treats disguised as groceries. I found this rule while I was reading through other people’s posted rules lists, and I am glad I did, because I probably never would have articulated it on my own. It was definitely one I needed, though.

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Stuff

Poking around the edges of Project 333

Over the weekend, I decided to pour my midlife makeover energies into my closet — not for a KonMari deep purge, but instead with an eye towards trying Project 333.

For those not familiar, Project 333 is a sort of extreme capsule wardrobe challenge. Select 33 wearable items, including clothes, coats, shoes, and jewelry (underwear, lounge wear, workout gear don’t count), and wear only those 33 items for 3 months. The idea is that leaning into only 33 items will force you into selecting only the things you like, and only the more functional, fashionable stuff in your closet. Then, in three months, you can adjust your capsule for new pieces or changing weather, and also consider if all that stuff you boxed away for three months is still even worth keeping.

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Food

I have joined the cult of Instant Pot


If there’s one thing both the weight loss bloggers and the frugal mom vloggers can agree on, it is that the Instant Pot is amazing. And you know what? They’re kind of right.

I admit that I am late to the Instant Pot party. I had a more old-school pressure cooker when the Instant Pot first rose to prominence a few years back, that I literally only used for rice, but it was enough excuse for me to hand-waive the idea of getting something new.

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Stuff

Yes, I’ve tried KonMari


It’s nigh impossible to attempt any kind of decluttering effort without encountering Marie Kondo and her KonMari method. The self-stylized “Japanese art of decluttering and organization” is the method of choice for so many vloggers, bloggers, and Facebook groups that one could get the impression, at first, that is is the only way to declutter.

This was only slightly less true in 2018, when I made one of my failed “Let’s clean up our act!” attempts. Kondo did not have the name recognition she has today (which came via her 2019 Netflix series), but she was still highly present in the decluttering community. That’s when I bought the KonMari bible, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” and tried to dive head-first into it.

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Self

I have a terrible relationship with my self


Last week I covered the three prongs of my “midlife makeover” — my issues with money, food, and stuff. I thought that covered all the bases, but I’ve come to realize that there’s one more component of all this that needs to be actively addressed: my issues with me.

At some level, any midlife crisis is a crisis of identity. You’ve been an adult for long enough that things like retirement and death are closer now than the day you graduated high school; and unless you have been profoundly lucky or profoundly successful, you almost certainly have a moment where look at the state of your life, and you ask yourself, “What the hell have I been doing all this time?”

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Stuff

This is why we no-buy

Anxiety

The first weekend of my no-buy month is successfully behind me, and I have to tell you … I was a nervous wreck.

Okay, maybe not actually a wreck. But I couldn’t believe how much the first days of the no-buy had my anxiety keyed up. I woke up on Saturday morning, day one, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how I wasn’t going to be able to buy anything for a whole month.

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