Misty went on a year long spending freeze and how it changed her mindset around spending.
Misty Lynch is a Certified Financial Planner™ and the founder of Relatable Wealth where she helps families and business owners manage their money better.
The mission of Relatable Wealth is to share resources to help you handle your money with confidence both for the betterment of your family and your business. Misty lives with her husband and children in Walpole, MA. When she isn't writing and educating about finances, she enjoys reading, learning and taking courses, watch baking championship shows, making food her toddlers won’t eat, petting all the dogs, 90’s music, and one day, she wants to be on Jeopardy.
Thanks Misty so much for being here. I am so excited to talk with you today. Great. Thank you for having me. So before we jump in, now I do want to talk about, we're going to talk about your year long shopping hiatus, but before we do that, cause I really excited to hear how in the world you did that for a whole year. Uh, but can you just kind of quickly tell us about yourself and what you do?
Uh, sure. Um, so my name is Misty Lynch. I'm a certified financial planner and a behavioral financial advisor. Um, and I, I'm a firstname.lastname@example.org and I created this blog really when I started to, um, decided I wanted to try to do a year long shopping ban and not buy any clothes, shoes or bags for the entire year. And I thought writing about it and telling everybody that I could about it, um, would help keep me accountable and it, and it definitely did. So that's, um, so that's just a little bit about me. I'm also, um, I have, you know, a five year old and a seven year old and, uh, live out in Massachusetts with my husband.
Awesome. So this, so you decided not to buy any clothes, handbags, shoes, like was that primarily it and were, were there like other things in there? So for me, I, um, you know, I [inaudible]
kind of notice that, you know, when I started to, you know, make more money and, you know, I, I, I always was just, I was just in a habit of buying things that, um, I didn't really even need or sometimes I would have clothes in my closet with tags on them. And it just started to, I wondered when I, you know, started developing these habits and it really, um, I think I came across an article about somebody who like, had stopped shopping for like two weeks. And in my head I was just like, I bet I have enough stuff here that I could do this for an entire year and be completely fine. And I really just wanted to see, you know, what was motivating me to, you know, spend on things that, you know, when I could be using my money [inaudible] for things that I cared about more or maybe [inaudible] um, starting a business or doing something different.
So it really was more just like an experiment, I guess you could say. Um, to see if I could start to, you know, be more mindful about some of the, some of the things that I was, that I was doing just filling up my cart on Amazon and clicking and not even knowing what was coming in the mail. So I think I've talked to a lot of people that kind of, you know, are in similar habits. You know, two small kids. I was, you know, up at night nursing in the middle of the night and I would be shopping because my phone was right there. So it's something that's become really easy for people to do, but it could get a little bit out of control. And, and you know, when you wanted to, you know, when you want to stay out of debt and you want to do, um, you know, accomplish more with your money, um, sometimes there's some really tempting things out there that can, uh, can just keep you from achieving those goals.
So it was really just an experiment to kind of see what triggered me to, you know, act a way and how I could, how I could go about changing it. So did you set out to do it for a whole year or was that just kind of like you just kept going? Nope, it was, it was, the goal was a new year's resolution really. I started on, on January 1st and, um, and then, you know, kind of in my first blog post that I posted that that first week of January was that this was my resolution for the year. And, um, and, but you know, that I would track my progress quarterly and then in the middle of, you know, um, as I was going throughout the year, I would kind of write things about, about money mindset, about, you know, about shopping, about Mmm. You know, business and family and other, other financial goals just to kind of, I didn't think anybody wanted to follow every week of yeah.
I wanted to buy and didn't. Um, but yeah, it really was kind of the intention it was in the, to see if it could go an entire year and how, how it would change me afterwards. So what did you, so one, did you make it the whole year? I did. The only time that I got anything new was like on mother's day. But it was, it's interesting because when you just have like an instant gratification kind of world where you see something you like on someone else and you can just buy it, it really was different when it got to be like mother's day or my birthday. Like I had a list of things that I really wanted and I don't remember having anything like that since I was a kid. You know, like the things that you couldn't just go get. Um, and that, you know, like I really wanted a pair of slippers that I'd worn out completely.
And I, and I waited til mother's day and when I got them I was so happy, like different, different kinds of happy than when you can just put them in your cart and get them tomorrow. Um, so it was interesting. So yeah, I did get a few new things, but those were really, um, those were like on my, on my birthday or mother's day. Um, and you know, occasionally if I got a gift card for, um, like a, a birthday present that I would be able to use that. But it was weird. I almost felt strange using it. Like it had to be so important that it couldn't just, I couldn't just ruin it on the first thing I saw. So those ended up sticking around in my wallet much longer than they usually do. Yeah. So how, how do you think that it kinda changed your mindset to do it for this long?
Well, I think, you know, I had a job for a while where I was traveling and so I would be by myself in different cities and a lot of times I think like I would just go, I would just go shopping, um, to pass time. Um, but really what I was probably feeling was like lonely or bored, you know? And so, um, I, I kind of realized that it wasn't exactly a good pastime. You know, spending money is something you should do, um, with your front brain, you should do, you know, with some planning and some, you know, thinking ahead about it. And so, yeah, I really just, you know, started to, you know, if I felt like, you know, I always had a lot of books around, you know, so instead of feeling like, Oh, I have a couple hours to myself, I should go shopping, I would say I would kind of swap it with a different habit that I felt accomplished, a goal that I wanted to do, which was read more.
And so it was just kind of noticing those moments where you felt like just kind of like compulsively like, Oh, I'm just going to go do this because I have time, or I'm by myself, or, um, you know, I'm on the West coast and my family's asleep. Who should I talk to? You can kind of, um, I could kind of notice more when I wanted to spend money or if I like didn't have a great day. Um, I would, you know, sometimes instead of, you know, you know, everybody has some, you know, usually we try to, to feel better. And so with, you know, having everything at our fingertips now you can go eat, you could go drink, you could go shop, you can do all of these things. And sometimes doing them just puts you back in that cycle of feeling worse afterwards, which leads to more of that same behavior.
So it really was kind of setting up these roadblocks to say like, okay, this isn't something I do now. What will I, you know, what can I do if I don't have a great day at work? Okay. I can, you know, take the dog for a walk or I can, you know, I kind of had these back of things that were just easy go to [inaudible], um, ways to kind of snap out of whatever, you know, mindset or bad mood or anything that I was in to kind of just reset and get back to normal instead of doing something that I wanted to, you know, to stop doing. I also started to sell some of my things that I had, like the bags and the clothes that I'd acquired and held onto for 10 years that I had no interest in anymore. Um, [inaudible] got a lot at, got rid of a lot of suits that could go to women who were looking for jobs or maybe wanted, you know, needed to get something either secondhand or donated to, you know, go get their first interview when they were just hanging in my closet and the addicts.
So I kind of felt good giving things away more. It almost felt as good as getting things, um, possibly better. Um, and so that was kind of an interesting thing to say. Like, I don't even need more stuff. Could also get rid of stuff at the same time.
[inaudible] so what are some things that you did to kind of make it easier for you so you weren't so tempted, you know, like emails and just, you know, all advertisements and things like that, especially for a whole year. I'm sure as you built the habit and stuff it got easier and easier, um, for at certain times anyway. But I'm sure you still had your weak moments. Yeah, no, I'm, one of the first things I did was I unsubscribed to probably over a hundred
different emails that were coming to me from retailers. And, um, sometimes you'd have to unsubscribe several times in places because really when you're looking at, you know, like I, um, you know, when I was up late with my, with my babies when they were, when they were really small, I mean, there would just be so many things. Every time you scroll through a newsfeed, there's advertisements and things that are basically just tailored to you, what you're looking for. So I spent a lot less time, um, following different stores are things that I liked. I unsubscribed to all the emails and then eventually my feet stopped showing those things. I did start seeing more of people like that I found inspiring. Like some, you know, I, I just kind of changed everything I was looking at. And eventually your, you know, everything that's tracking your, every move online starts picking up the things that you like.
I really just tried to yeah. Know, limit how much I was seeing because yeah, it's tough when you see like, you know, Oh, this the sales going on or you have, um, [inaudible] you know, there's, all these new things are coming out for the season. And my husband actually did most of the, he likes, he likes to shop and he's good at it. So he, um, he did a lot of the shopping for the kids. Mmm. You know, because they obviously needed new things throughout the year because they were growing. And, um, I just, you know, if I went into the store to get stuff, I would just go straight to the kids section and find what I needed and walk out without even trying to, to look around to see if there was anything nice. Sometimes I would see some, like, um, you know, if, if we went into a store and there was like the mannequins or anything, I would start thinking, what do I have that's like that?
Could I make that outfit based on stuff that I have in my closet? Um, because, you know, I still had things to do and wanted to look nice and I, um, that kind of wasn't interesting way to rethink, I need that, I want to buy that right now. It was, okay, do I have anything close to that? Or like, could I put an outfit together like that? And, um, I'm not necessarily good at putting outfits together. And so maybe I would see stuff like that and be like, you know what, I think I could do that. Or, um, let me go back and look at what I have because we tend to just pile up stuff and if it's in a basket under your bed or up in the attic, you're not going to remember it. You're really just going to see the stuff that's right there.
So almost, you know, getting rid of some of the stuff that you really don't want anymore and then trying to be a little more creative with what you had. I mean, it kind of made things a little bit more interesting. And I did, I did try to wear different outfits, probably more so than normal where I just had my GoTo things or would buy something new every time I had plans. Wow. Excuse me. Um, so how much money do you think that you've saved that year? So I was looking back at my, um, I do track all of my, um, my spending, um, with the planning software that I use. Um, the clients and I, it looked like I had spent about, I think it was, I'd have to look, but it was probably like $5,000 that I had normally spent. Just on random shopping for myself throughout the year, which is, you know, it ends up being quite a bit, you know, if you're spending like, you know, a couple hundred dollars a month or you know, maybe one month you have more.
Um, and that to me was just, um, you know, it was, it was too much based on what I actually needed. So I would say that I probably saved that much, you know, just thinking back about it. Um, because I really wasn't paying attention. Um, and so it might not seem it, you know, when you make your budget, and I know you help people with budgeting too, it's really easy to remember like the mortgage and the groceries, but people forget all those little things that they pick up, you know, when they spend $50 at target, um, on a Saturday, that might not be added into their line items when they have that budget in their head. But those, those dollars definitely add up and are, are worth tracking. So, um, it is really important to be kind of mindful about all of that spending. And then, you know, if you do say like, okay, I'm going to spend $200 and I'm going to get a pair of, you know, a new jacket because I need one, or, um, I need a pair of shoes.
You know, it's very different when you plan ahead and go into a store to find exactly what you need instead of just waiting for, you know, for like target to tell you what you need. That leads to a lot of, a lot of impulse buying and spending where you're like, why did I even do that? But then you usually move on. But now whenever you were finished with this, cause you did this last year, right? In 2018. Yeah. Um, so how did, how has your shopping changed since, I mean you're technically not doing this challenge, you know, once you were done and you could spend, how did you handle that? Yeah, so I think there was definitely some things that needed to be replaced. I think my, my workout clothes were probably the most, they were in the worst shape. Um, and I think there was a pair of sweat pants and my husband was like out.
And I think I had a, like a Yukon sweatshirt that I still, I still hold onto even though it is falling apart. Um, but yeah, so there was some things that I said like, okay, I'm going to, you know, I'm going to try to find, you know, a few more pairs of workout pants, but I would do it very mindfully. So like if I wanted to go to a store like old Navy, I would no what I wanted. I would look on my phone for coupons or deals before I went. So I would do all of these things that make you think so when you plan ahead, it's very, it's, it's easier than getting, you know, sucked away and doing something, you know, that you never intended to do. So I would almost have like lists of that I wanted, I would know which coupon code or whatever I wanted to use.
Um, sometimes I would buy it online if that just kept it easier. Um, but a lot of times I would still go to a store cause that's another hurdle to actually have to get up, get dressed, go where you need to go look at it and decide that that's something you want. Um, and I would kind of stick to it. Um, I don't, um, I still see some things that I, you know, that I like on other people, you know, but I have to, I've started to be better at realizing like sometimes it's just okay to see somebody look really nice and tell them that I love those boots or I love your dress and move on because that's what I had done the whole last year. It didn't mean I have to have that or me at five foot two would look anything like the person that I might've seen wearing a pair of skinny jeans with a perfectly, they're like look completely different on me.
So I kind of, you know, spent a little bit more like less time feeling like that envious or that kind of, you know, Oh I have to go do that thing or look that way. And kind of tried to figure out what looks best on me and, and stop buying things that maybe I just liked on other people. Yeah. So that I would wear it more or that I would actually use it. So yeah. So I kind of just have very, like when I, when I do shop, it's usually I still like, you know, if I have a gift card that that's kind of fun to spend it, but I'm just a little bit more, you know, Mmm. Clear on what I actually really need and what I, I know what I have now, which is much better to actually know what, what your little inventory is.
And I do, um, I do like consignment. Um, I do give, you know, sell a lot of clothes at a consignment store that opened recently. And I do, um, I kind of have read a little bit about like fast fashion and like its impact on the planet, um, and all of the clothes that are really meant to be worn for one season and just end up in landfills. And, and I really kind of started thinking about that too, cause that that helped me, you know, reading things of course that kind of support some of your, your goals and opinions. And that made me think about how much we're actually buying and consuming that right. Maybe we could get secondhand or we could, um, give away some of our stuff when we need to and give it to other people. So that kind of helped me think about like, okay, do I really need to buy one more thing or am I good?
Like do I have enough shoes or could I, could I wear something different? Um, and that, that kind of, um, with some of those, those triggers and thinking about what else I could do instead. So if somebody listening is wanting to do a no spin challenge, you know, cause I really advocate for that for just, you know, resetting your shopping habits and just trying to rein in your budget and things like that. Maybe not necessarily for a whole year, which is no, not a bad idea at all. If you really want to make some good progress. But let's say a long time. So even if they're wanting to just do two weeks or a month or something like that, what kind of tips would you give them to kind of help make it easier for them? Yeah, so I think, you know, and I, not everybody's a writer, but you don't, you don't have to be.
But I do think if you, if you write down what your goals are, um, I think that that could be helpful. Um, you know, I told plenty of people what I was doing. Nobody necessarily wanted to join me, blame them, but I told them, you know, what I was doing and why. And sometimes even just saying things like that, um, will make, like, even if you say, I'm going to go to the gym in the morning and you told one more person who's planning to see you there, you're more likely to go. Um, you know, so I think that that was something I did. Um, and I, I told people what I was doing, I did use journaling and stuff as a, you know, I, I did start writing down certain things, you know, that if you're trying to give up something, you know, start your morning writing down some things that you have already in that you're grateful for it, it'll kind of make you feel a little bit less, um, just a little bit better.
You know, I think it's just a good way to kind of start your day with like a good mindset, especially if you're trying to give something up or say you're going on a diet or doing a cleanse or trying to stop drinking for a month, you know, anything like that. If you, if you start by thinking about like all of the things you want to accomplish during the day and some of the great things that you've already got going on, um, it just makes it easier because you're already in a good space. And then I think like tracking the budgeting was, was good. I, um, I saw, you know, my savings increased. I was able to, you know, to, to see a positive, you know, throughout the year, you know, positive growth. So even if you just wanted to stop spending, um, you know, maybe you feel like you're, you're spending too much or you want to spend less on takeout and you more at restaurant starts put that money that you would normally have used and either put it in a savings account or even if it's just for a week or a month, you could put it like in a jar in your house, you know, and that, that helps to kind of show progress.
And then it's like, okay, well if I was normally spending, you know, $5 a day on, you know, on lunch and I stopped doing that, you know, by the end of the month you might be like, okay, I can actually, like I could start an investment account with this, with this money, I could do a lot of different things. And so I think that that's kind of Mmm important. And if you know what you're like, one of the things that I do sometimes with, with clients that are kind of like feeling like they're not acquiring any, any wealth or they feel like they make good money and they don't know where it goes, it's really good to kind of narrow down what yeah, real values are. So I was spending all this money on shopping, but that's not one of my top five values in my life. That's not my family.
That's not education, that's not independence or you know, entrepreneurs. It's none of those things. And so when I stopped spending money in different areas that if I couldn't ask myself like, does this support, you know, the things that I care about, um, and if the answer was no, then it was easy to change my mind. Where, you know, if buying a course online was helping me do better in my business or with my writing, that was very easy for me to say. Like, yes, I can. This makes me feel good. I do, I won't regret this purchase. Even if you know, you know, just adding to like some education or I learned something. And so kind of like knowing what you really, really want to do and care about and then making sure that your money supports that most of the time can make it a lot easier to kind of accomplish those bigger goals.
And, and even if you just said, okay, if you set a goal to, you know, stop spending for a month after that month, it might be a lot easier to be like, okay, wow, I don't miss it or look what I accomplished and I could kind of keep going. Like definitely like unsubscribing to some of those emails can definitely, it's really like, it's really overwhelming. We see so many ads every day, um, that it's, it's almost like getting to be too noisy. Where I like every other thing is a sponsored ad or a post and it's like, Oh, this is really just a sales tool. It's not necessarily like, you know, connecting me or seeing pictures of families and friends. It's usually some sort of sales. So just to be kind of mindful of that and aware of it instead of feeling like, wow, how did they know that I needed this?
Yeah, exactly. I only thought that, how do they know? How are they here? Like are they in my, in my head, in my computer and um, yeah, just trying to, if you can, you know, block out some of that noise and focus on more of the things that really light you up. Yeah. That's great. So what do you think was the biggest thing that you've learned from this experience? Um, I think biggest thing that I learned was like actually spending some time on my, you know, my [inaudible] looking at like what my thoughts and feelings were. Because a lot of times I would go straight from something happening to reacting. Like I had a bad day or I'm lonely in this town and I, you know, I don't travel home until, you know, two days from now, instead of thinking, okay, how does that make me feel?
Is this the right role for me? What should I do? You know, I would just go shop. So instead of going straight from this circumstance, which is real, like I'm in a different city or I had a difficult, or I'm tired and thinking about, you know, doing something to correct it, I would jump straight to, all right, I'm going to do something that'll make me feel better right away. And I think that's how any habit, any, any behavior happens is just repeating it several times and then eventually you don't even notice you're doing it. So I do spend a lot more time writing down, you know, things that I'm, I'm thinking and feeling and then like how could I think about this or feel about this a different way. And like I know you talk to people who are in a lot of debt and I talked to people too that say I have $100,000 worth of debt.
I feel so terrible. I, I hate my thought. You know, I'm feel so guilty. But it's like, it's just a fact that you owe, this is not in money. Like you can change your thoughts, you can change your feelings and have a different action, a different, a different response to the situation and then the results changed. So, you know, I think that that's kind of something that this whole process has helped me with to kind of think about things well in a lot more depth and then respond in a way that's helpful to me or to my family instead of just feeling a certain way about money because money's difficult and it's not something we're all trained to, to do well with or to understand. And so I think we see it as a very emotional thing when it's really just dollars and you can have a plan to do different things with your money, whether it's get out of debt or save money to start a business or to send someone to school or retire. It's really just, we put the emotion behind it. So that's something that we can kind of control.
That's, that's very true. That's a really good point. Um, so just to kind of wrap up here, I do love to ask people what their favorite nonfiction book is. You know, just self-improvement and working on yourself, just like you did with, uh, you know, not shopping as much or not shopping for a whole year and you know, the things that you learned along the way. So, um, what is one of your favorite novels?
Fiction books? You know, I picked up a book this summer and, um, and I was in Cape Cod visiting my mother-in-law and, um, it's called man's search for meaning by Viktor Frankl. [inaudible]. It's an interesting nonfiction, very short read, but he survived concentration camp and he was, um, he was a psychiatrist when he went in and just reading about the way that he used his brains who help him survive, like the worst situation possible and the way he helped other people survive. And what happened when he saw people who gave up or who, you know, who were just dealing with things in a different way. So, um, it's something that I think anybody could read and, um, you know, it's, it's been around for, for a long time, but that's probably one of those books that like when you feel a little bit out of control or maybe a little bit lost, like it's, it's super fascinating and like very inspiring to just see how,
you know, decades later in different situations that whatever's going on in the world, like we all have this very powerful tool right inside our own heads that, um, maybe we could all use a little bit differently. Um, and just to, to get through, you know, difficult times.
Yeah. I'll have to add that to the list. I've got a whole list growing now since [inaudible]. I mean, it's, it's, it's a
quick read. It's less than a hundred. It's less than 200 pages. Oh, okay. A tiny book that you could sit in your, in your purse. Um, it just, you know, it's just fascinating. I like hearing stories about people, you know, and they're, and what motivates them and inspires them. And this was, this was one that I think probably is inspired a lot of, a lot of writers, a lot of the, you know, the, um, Adam grants and assignments and acts like the people, the big thinkers that we see now, like have, you know, kind of cited. This book is one that kind of changed their whole opinion on everything.
Wow. And it's nice that it's a quick read. Yeah, no, I know. Those are great too, especially if you like to go back and reread things or you just like to have them, you know, a little coffee stash away somewhere, but quick one, but it's good. Good. Um, and where can people find you? Sure. Okay. So, um,
my website is relatable, wealth.com and you can also find me on [inaudible] Twitter at relatable well and Facebook at relatable wealth and on Instagram at Misty Lynch CFP.
Awesome. Thank you so much for joining me today and I look forward to talking to you soon. Great. Thank you so much for having me. Thanks.