‘Women can’t handle money.’

I’ve heard these words several times in my life, and I’ve even believed them to some extent. How could I not, when I had consumer debt, student loans and a shopping addiction?

There is no shame in a woman spending her money in the way she wishes, but I am aware of the fact that my habits have been poor. Thus, my decision to spend less does not come from a place of dependence and denial, but rather in the hopes that I’ll be able to see my own consumption more clearly.

As a married couple, the Laird Hamilton and I have a joint bank account, as well as our own separate accounts. He can’t see my outgoings, and I cannot see his. In this way, we have privacy in our spending. However, I swing between wanting financial autonomy and believing that I’ll be unable to spend any funds wisely.

These thoughts are coming up as I reflect on my most recent read, The Year of Less, in the wake of my ‘no spend’ March. In truth, March was probably one of my most expensive months in a long time, and I expect it was spurred on by a sense of deprivation for all the things I wasn’t going to have. Purchases on 28 February slowly spilled over into the first week of March, and what was the point of stopping then?

It is in this spirit that I’m considering planning a no-spend year, complete with lists of approved, necessary items. It makes me slightly uncomfortable to think of justifying each item to myself, but I hope that this practice will lead me on the path to more mindful consumption.

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