Budget Buster: Fast Food!

We went on a walk today.  It was glorious to be crunching leaves with my children in the sunshine.  I am deeply ashamed by how much I’ve been “cheating” on my values and frugality lately.  I am being a terrible model for my children.  I am having a bit of a wake-up call with my lack of mindfulness and creeping non-frugal habits.

Recently, our family has been experiencing quite a bit of stress.  I’ve written about the effects of stress on my budget before and related it to my struggles with healthy eating while losing weight.  Last month, stress took the form of fast food consumption.  Seeing how much it added up to (almost $300), I have to acknowledge that this is not a small problem for me.

Fast food wrecks my health and destroys my budget.  I have planned and well-stocked food reserves (including snack foods), so I have no need for it in my life.  I’ve tried to be moderate about it, but this month has shown that I am unable to moderate fast food.  When I allow it in my life at all, I overindulge.  Always.

Gretchin Rubin’s work on habits suggests that sometimes it is easier to completely ban something than it is to try to indulge in moderation.  Something as terrible for me as fast food has proven too tempting for me to mess around with.  I am going to abstain from fast food entirely through the end of 2018.

I am going on a fast food fast: No drive-thrus or restaurants with drive-thrus of any kind.  No convenience store/gas station food.  No national chain, commercialized dining or delivery.  No exceptions.

I’ve been toying with the idea of a shopping ban (like the one Cait Flanders wrote about in her exquisite book, The Year of Less) for clothes, furniture, housing items, and personal electronics for myself until we are out of debt.  She paired her ban with a ban on out of the home coffee purchases, except while traveling.  I think my need is to end my purchasing of fast food.  It doesn’t align with my values, I’m never happy with having purchased it, and it is harmful to my health and finances.

I will admit that I bought fast food earlier today.  In fact, my frustration with being unable to stop myself is what led to my decision to finally just take the plunge and cut myself off.  I am also beginning the shopping ban (as noted above).  I don’t spend a lot on personal items, but I have more than enough.  I resolve that the spending will be $0 until we are completely out of consumer debt.

My goal is to bring mindfulness to my consumer habits and eliminate the one habit I know is never what I really want.  I should save some money along the way, too.

Rules for my shopping ban (through at least the end of 2018–to be reevaluated at that time):

  1. No fast food of any kind (see above).
  2. No purchasing clothing, technology, furniture, or household items for myself. (Not an excuse to go hog wild for gifts, but not purchasing myself things will save some money).
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