My New Shopping Ban + a J. Money in Your Pocket!

What up, Hustle Nation!

Another day another dollar earned/saved/invested/paid off in debt, right? :) It’s been one heck of a week over here on the budgetsaresexy side, from having my 7 things learned over 7 years post picked up by Lifehacker, USAA, and then Business Insider (!!), all the way to realizing I won’t be able to retire for another 20 years at this rate, haha…

But hey? That’s what makes life interesting, eh? Ups and downs and all arounds to remind us that we’re still alive and to keep fighting the good fight! And every now and then we’re rewarded when we least expect it. (That 7 things learned post? I almost didn’t write it cuz I thought it might turn out lame!)

Another thing that went down behind the scenes this week was putting together a page of all of the financial experiments I’ve tried over the years. I thought it would be fun to showcase them all on one main page to track going forward, so I rummaged through the site to find all those I rocked, all those I gave up on, and all those that completely changed my life.

Check ’em out here! J’s Money Experiments

Something else that came out of this page was the reminder that it’s Lent season again! I’m not sure how many of you Catholics/Christians out there celebrate it these days and do the ol’ “give something up for 40 days” sacrifice, but it brought me back to the good ol’ days of ’08 when I took on my very first “No Shopping” challenge and realized I was wasting hundreds of dollars every month :) I remember it as if it were yesterday because it was such an epiphany! And probably the hardest habit to break, maybe outside of beer (which I promptly took back up after Lent was over, haha… but not so the shopping!).

In fact, here’s everything I’ve given up over the past handful of years during Lent:

* I levied a $1.00 penalty per occurrence on myself which was donated directly to our church ;)

So what’s in store for 2015?

I’m thinking Round II of the Shopping Ban :) My spending has definitely changed for the better over the past 7 years, but if I want to reach financial independence quicker I better start upping my game. And I bet if I monitor my spending a lot closer again I’ll start seeing some hidden patterns emerge over the weeks. Probably relating to my two beautiful boys as I’ve gotten rid of most my old vices by this point but I’m a sucker for those two!

So just like last time, all spending on non-essential items is off-limits until Easter Sunday. No picking up any snacks while out, no restaurant dining, no picking up any clothes or electronics of course, no music, apps, baby toys, books, marbles, coins (egads!) or anything else that’s not important to survive. Only bills, mortgages, healthcare, utilities, rent and groceries.

We’re going back to the basics, baby! I’m excited!

What does this have to do with having a J$ in your pockets?

Well, because I want you to download this new cell phone app I found and let me know if you’ll be joining me in this No Shopping Ban or not :) It’s a quick multiple choice answer, and the first 50 people who do so will get a $5.00 Starbucks or Amazon card for helping me test out this thing!

I’ve been trying to find a way to interact with y’all more offline as well as on the blog, twitter, facebook, etc, and when I came across this new app called Reacht I thought it might be the perfect way. In a nutshell, it’s an app that allows leaders of a group to send out a poll to their friends/fans who then easily answers them as they pop up on their cell phone. I’m usually not much of an app guy, but when I started playing around with this thing I thought it would be great for Budgets Are Sexy!

reacht logo

So if you want to be VIP and answer weekly polls on money, sign up and join my group! I plan on shooting one out every Friday to start the weekend off right (and maybe another throughout the week too, not sure yet), and then using some of the data for upcoming blog posts and other fun things I come up with. The app is totally free, and it literally takes seconds to connect up.

All you have to do is:

  1. Download the app: get it here for iPhone and here for Android
  2. Click on “Join Group” once you’re in
  3. Type in “money” to find the “Budgets Are Sexy” group
  4. Join it, and start answering away!

The first 50 people who do so will get their hands on $5.00 worth of Starbucks/Amazon, and we’ll try it out for a month and see if we should keep it around. Worst case you get a free coffee and have some fun answering questions, right? Cuz we all know *all* questions about money are fun! ;)

[UPDATE: Reacht went out of business, wha wha….]

Excited to try this out! And hoping some of you are going to join me in this ban! :)

UPDATE: The first 50 people have already signed up, but I’d LOVE for you to still download the app and join up so we can do some awesome polls!! It’s really fun so far! :)

PS: Shout out to the folks at Reacht for the gift cards! We’re the first finance blog to test this bad boy out, so I’m glad they were up for partnering up.

PPS: If you haven’t seen it yet, the winners of the other week’s $50 gift cards wereΒ Anne Marie and Tyneisha. Congrats, ladies!

[Photo by russelljsmith // spiced up by J$]

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    1. J. Money February 20, 2015 at 11:29 AM

      The early hustler gets the worm ;)

  1. Gil February 20, 2015 at 6:02 AM

    Just joined and answered…cool app! Please keep us updated on how you like it, as a user/group organizer.

    On the years that you gave something up for forty days, did you notice a change in your consumption/usage after the time was up? Did you “get right back to it” as before? Did you see a difference between giving up the tangible stuff like beer versus the intangible stuff like complaining? Do you think you would have had more of an incentive to give up the intangibles if the donation went to a group you hate rather than a group you support?

    1. J. Money February 20, 2015 at 11:34 AM

      RE: keeping you updated on how app goes – I definitely will!

      RE: change after 40 days over – I lasted MUCH more than 40 days on every single one of them I want to say. Once I’m on a mission it’s hard for me to get off it even when it’s over. And I find 30 days+ is a perfect time to let habits form. Years later I still eat sweets and drink beer (the beer was the hardest one as I like to relax with one every night), but the shopping completely changed my finances forever (I’m not exaggerating – my impulse control is amazing now), the complaining one made me realize not only how much *I* complain, but how much everyone around me does too! So I catch a lot more of that now and I’d say I complain a solid 75% less – no joke. That becomes habit forming too! Cursing I go back and forth with depending on who I’m talking to, and soda is almost completely out of my life. I went from one a day to one every other month or even longer. I actually can’t tell you the last time I drank one.

      So yes – these all turned into positive habits! :)

      RE: Donations to groups I hate – This works for a lot of people actually, it’s pretty funny/cool. Not for me though really as I don’t need any more motivation outside of “completing a mission” and wanting to better myself.

  2. Kim @ Money Under the Cushions February 20, 2015 at 6:57 AM

    I am rarely up this early, but today I had the writing bug and couldn’t sleep. I don’t know if I’m one of the first 50, but I’m thinkin’ there’s potential. :) Congrats on all of the big site shout outs!

  3. Mrs. Frugalwoods February 20, 2015 at 7:04 AM

    I’m excited for your no shopping challenge! I always get excited when other people do those, which makes me feel kind of like a ban voyeur. What can I say, there’s something inherently fascinating about giving things up.

    I shall now attempt to download the app, but I’m technologically challenged and Mr. FW is out of town, so we may be out of luck on that front. I know my limitations in life.

    1. J. Money February 20, 2015 at 11:34 AM

      hah! something tells me you’ll be able to do so just fine :)

  4. Brentt February 20, 2015 at 7:29 AM

    Signed up, voted, and commented. Hope I’m in the first 50 in order to secure an Amazon gift card!

  5. Brian February 20, 2015 at 7:52 AM

    I’ll try this app out for a bit. Why not? I won’t be joining on this ban since my old lady convinced me to buy a new house and I have to buy a few things for it, like new locks, a new showerhead and a better way to keep my little guy from opening the door to the back porch.

    1. J. Money February 20, 2015 at 11:37 AM

      Yes, that last one is probably important :)

      You’ll have to try the ban after you’re moved in and settled to make up for all the spending!

  6. Jon @ Money Smart Guides February 20, 2015 at 8:04 AM

    Great job on getting picked up by those media outlets!!

    I usually don’t give anything up for Lent and this year won’t be any different.

  7. Gretchen February 20, 2015 at 8:09 AM

    I guess I could see a yearlong shopping ban working, but I have a problem with 30-day “no-spend” months or shopping bans. I think if you did a year then you could definitely get out of some of the old habits, but during only 30 days you’re just going to pick up shopping right where you left off when it’s over. Also, the app seems amazing!

    1. J. Money February 20, 2015 at 11:39 AM

      you’d be amazed how fast a habit forms actually with this stuff :) My first ban in ’08 now saves me $200-$300 a month cuz I realized the bad habits I had of going into stores just for fun so now I just don’t go in them as much as I’m cured! hah!

      I’ll have to compare notes to Cait over at Blonde on A Budget though and see as she’s midway through her year long ban so far and KILLING it! :)

  8. Megan J February 20, 2015 at 8:31 AM

    I joined the group but I don’t see any questions…what am I messing up haha?

    1. J. Money February 20, 2015 at 11:40 AM

      Really? It should either be there when you log in OR ping you a few secs later w/ the question directly. I can’t tell all the way since I see stuff differently than y’all. But I see people answering so I know it’s working! :)

      Let me know if you still don’t see anything though now that it’s been a few hours… (I’m late to seeing these comments today, sorry!)

  9. Brian @ Debt Discipline February 20, 2015 at 8:49 AM

    The apps looks great, just downloaded it. It the shopping ban going work, sounds like a “Diet” to me then after the diet you go back to eating the bad foods you did before. Sounds like you just need to change your spending behavior all together to hit your goals.

    1. J. Money February 20, 2015 at 11:42 AM

      That’s probably true for some people for sure. I thought that was gonna be the case for me back in ’08 when I first tried it, but turns out it changed my behavior forever :) So habits can change after 30-40 days!

  10. Dee @ Color Me Frugal February 20, 2015 at 9:04 AM

    Congrats on getting picked up by those sites! That is awesome!!

  11. andy February 20, 2015 at 9:06 AM

    i joined, but i’m not seeing any messages or things to vote on — just that i joined the group and you and dan from reacht are leaders of it.

    1. J. Money February 20, 2015 at 11:50 AM

      weird. maybe it takes a few minutes? I can’t see same as you do cuz I’m already setup in there, but let me know if it’s still jacked and will look into for you. I see people answering it so I know it’s not completely broken! :)

  12. John @ Frugal Rules February 20, 2015 at 9:39 AM

    Huge congrats on the media pickups sir! The app looks pretty cool – I guess one benefit of working from home is that a no shopping ban is usually relatively simple. :)

    1. J. Money February 20, 2015 at 11:43 AM

      It does help, I’m not gonna lie :)

      Though we still have Amazon to be careful of!!

  13. Done by Forty February 20, 2015 at 9:57 AM

    Really happy for the added publicity, and thanks again for those retirement spreadsheets. I’m using v1 to play around with the plan (looks like we’re closer to ‘done by forty one’). :)

    1. J. Money February 20, 2015 at 11:43 AM

      Haha…. something tells me you’ll find a fix for that before you reach 41 ;)

  14. Broke Millennial February 20, 2015 at 10:25 AM

    Big congrats on the great press this week! I got a chuckle out of your $1 donation for not keeping a Lenten promise. I should impose that each time I break mine!

    1. J. Money February 20, 2015 at 11:45 AM

      It adds up in the beginning before you get better about catching yourself ;)

  15. Zee February 20, 2015 at 10:29 AM

    Congrats on being picked up on all of those sites! I would join you in your no shopping ban for a month but I don’t have a smart phone to download apps on :)

    I don’t really think that shopping is an issue for me anyways I’m pretty good at resisting those temptations. I actually just recently started my own financial experiment where I stopped eating food. It’s pretty extreme and weird but that’s also part of the reason why I tried doing it, because it was weird and I thought it might make a good story.

    1. J. Money February 20, 2015 at 11:46 AM

      What? Haha… are you being serious? I hope your no food ban doesn’t last more than a week! ;)

      1. Zee February 21, 2015 at 1:09 AM

        Yep I’m being serious, I’m actually trying a food substitute. Basically it’s this powder that you mix with water that has everything your body would need. Think of it as like voluntarily going on a feeding tube, except minus the tube.

        Sometimes I like to do weird things just to say that I have, or because I think it will make a good story. In this case I haven’t eaten food in 20 days and counting. :)

        1. J. Money February 23, 2015 at 12:15 PM

          You are hardcore!!

  16. Even Steven February 20, 2015 at 10:52 AM

    My side hustle is to shop for items and resell them, I’m out but best of luck everyone!

    1. J. Money February 20, 2015 at 11:48 AM

      I would consider that “business” though and not count it. If I have to pay for hosting or domain stuff or something on my sites this month I’m going to do it as it keeps up the operations, so same for you.

      You need a better excuse to wiggle out of this one, my friend! :)

  17. Maricela February 20, 2015 at 11:35 AM

    I downloaded the iphone app which doesn’t allow me to comment or search. I was able to answer the question though. I’m going to try to give up buying wine this month…wish me luck!

    1. J. Money February 20, 2015 at 11:49 AM

      Well I’m glad you were able to answer it! They’re constantly upgrading stuff so hopefully the other parts work well going forward :)

      And good idea w/ wine! That’s a valiant challenge!

  18. Crystal February 20, 2015 at 12:24 PM

    I was accidentally awake at 730am today, and this was the only reason I wasn’t just grumpy all morning about being woken up. So, thanks! :-)

    1. J. Money February 23, 2015 at 12:30 PM

      hah! Rock on :)

  19. Dawn February 20, 2015 at 12:39 PM

    I too was able to take the survey but can’t find out how to comment.
    But hell yes, we need to beef up our debt pay down so this is perfect! Very curious what the polls will be…oh and of course hoping I’m one of the first fifty for a free coffee :-)

    1. J. Money February 23, 2015 at 12:31 PM

      The comment area is at the bottom. Not necessary to participate but always fun to read what people say :) Glad you’re on board to not spend!

  20. Stephanie February 20, 2015 at 1:22 PM

    Excellent job being picked up by other media; huge congrats! I’m already on a no-spend challenge so heck yes! Count me in! My numbers aren’t ever as large as yours but my percentage should be comparable; is there a way you can work out a formula to see what your % of increased savings might be?
    Always reading but rarely posting, I remain firmly convinced you’ve helped me change my finances forever. You rock J!!!!

    1. J. Money February 23, 2015 at 1:36 PM

      Awww that’s awesome – so glad to hear it Stephanie :)

      Good luck w/ the no spending! I haven’t played around with %’s as yet but it’s an interesting idea for sure. And not spending can never be bad whichever way you cut it ;)

  21. Kelly February 20, 2015 at 1:27 PM

    ok, went to the app and signed up and here is to hoping it helps keep me in check….

  22. Tawcan February 20, 2015 at 1:47 PM

    Congrats on being featured on those sites. Must be getting a nice traffic from those links. :)

  23. Mrs. Marriage & Money February 20, 2015 at 1:51 PM

    Love the no-shopping challenge and definitely will think of something we could do! We don’t do much shopping, but we certainly spend money other places (like coffees or eating out) that we could definitely cut back on. Good luck!

    1. J. Money February 23, 2015 at 1:38 PM

      Anything counts! The point is to step back and really see how much you’re truly spending on stuff you may not care about :) I personally will never give up coffee, haha, but I would other things that aren’t as important.

  24. Dude on a Mission February 20, 2015 at 2:57 PM

    I want to note the irony of the ad I see at the top of your site for a 2014 Nissan Murano – “Put $7,500 down…yada yada yada…SHOP NOW!” on a post with “Shopping Ban” in the title. I know you don’t control the ads, but man that is awesome :)

    1. J. Money February 23, 2015 at 1:41 PM

      Oh jeez, haha… LAME.

      One of these days I’ll kill all those ads and only put up those I love and use myself :) Just need to make a little more money on my projects to balance it outta there.

      1. Dude on a Mission February 25, 2015 at 2:06 PM

        Oh yeah, I totally understand; this is your paid job after all. I was not trying be a Debbie Downer or anything – I really thought it was funny. It made me actually LOL.

        1. J. Money February 25, 2015 at 4:17 PM

          Totally! Me too when I read your comment! :) Loved it.

  25. Jason @ Islands of Investing February 20, 2015 at 3:21 PM

    Funny how these big things can happen when you least expect it – but good to know it even happens to the blogging veterans too! Congrats on the coverage, hope you reach a bunch more people who need to hear what you have to say!

    You sound like a discipline machine compared to myself J-Money – there are plenty of things I’d like to try give up for 30 days, but I’m very good at finding excuses not to after day 2… perhaps some greater accountability is in order and I should join you in this ban! Beer and sweets are probably my biggest two challenges – shopping is less of a problem…

    1. J. Money February 23, 2015 at 1:44 PM

      Well then I dare you to pick one of them to end up and I’ll email you every week as your accountability partner ;) Plus it’ll give you something good to blog about- hah!

      1. Jason @ Islands of Investing February 24, 2015 at 6:10 AM

        Something ‘good’ to blog about? As opposed to what I generally blog about which isn’t ‘good’?? Ha!

        Well now that you’ve made it a dare I just have to do it don’t I! What about from the end of Feb through to 27th March (my birthday!), no alcohol whatsoever, and no sweets on weekdays? (I’m compromising on the shorter time period with the added bonus of no sweets on weekdays – which I’m pretty sure is going to be impossible for me…)

        1. J. Money February 25, 2015 at 4:19 PM

          Hah! YES! Do it!!!!!

          And then tell us how much you’ve saved (and then of course invested as you do) so we can see all the good it’s done in the end. Besides improving your health :)

          Just don’t watch my twitter updates in the evenings – I almost always reference my yummy beer I’m downing, mmmmm…. mmmmm..


  26. Kayla @ Femme Frugality February 20, 2015 at 3:49 PM

    Shopping sounds like a great thing to give up for lent! Great idea J$ :)

  27. Kate @ Cashville Skyline February 20, 2015 at 7:58 PM

    Congratulations on the big press this week, J. I was raised Catholic, but it’s been a long time since I’ve given anything up for lent. So long that I probably gave up being mean to my little sister. Haha! Best of luck with your no shopping challenge!

  28. Catina February 21, 2015 at 3:25 PM

    I am SO in! I was struggling with what I was gonna give up (I’m a cradle – Catholic)….you just helped me decide!
    P.S. The less I hang out here…The more I spend.

    1. J. Money February 23, 2015 at 1:45 PM


      I think I should change my tagline above to read that: “The less I hang out here…The more I spend.”

      Best compliment a finance blogger could receive :)

  29. Richard Anthony February 22, 2015 at 9:11 PM

    First, congratulations on those neat media pickups! Everybody wants to hear J$’s take on things–that’s why we come.

    Your tie-in of Lent and “giving up” really hits home with me, as right now I’m wrestling with a crisis of conscience that maybe you and your other Catholic readers can weigh in on.

    Last Lent, besides the usual abstaining from one selected self-indulgence, I decided to also give up having ashes imposed on my forehead. Why? The Lenten scriptures. To me they are very explicit.

    Matthew 6:16-18 says: “anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others” and “do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting.” Do it “so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

    Immediately after these readings, in what I now see as glaring and almost farcical hypocrisy, the entire congregation lines up to have their faces smeared with black crucifixes–or more often than not–black smudges. Everybody except yours truly. . . . Talk about being odd man out.

    Saving money is tremendously important but so is saving one’s soul. I’m sure that this issue will continue to pose a personal dilemma for me every Lent. Am I the only one in the Catholic world who feels this way? Maybe you could do a Reacht poll on it! Short of that, all comments here will be welcome. And thanks for being the fearless soul that you are:)

    1. J. Money February 23, 2015 at 1:48 PM

      You know, that’s actually really interesting… I hadn’t thought about that regarding Lent, but I have with praying a lot. I used to make it a point to pray before meal more openly – thinking it may inspire others to do the same? – but then after certain passages (maybe even that same one?) it seemed better to do it more discreetly.

      So I’m def. with you as far as not knowing the “right way” to go about these things, but I don’t dwell on them too much as I feel like the Big Man upstairs will just appreciate us keeping him in mind and trying to be the best Christians we can be. He has bigger fish to fry, eh?

      1. Richard Anthony February 23, 2015 at 7:17 PM

        Fortunately, that moral dilemma won’t present itself again until next Ash Wednesday! But in the meantime, I’d love to know if anyone else has had thoughts similar to mine on the subject.

  30. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank February 23, 2015 at 4:58 AM

    No shopping, J Money. I think it’s a bit hard to do, but having the will to do it and to reach financial independence, it will comes easy to those people like you. Good luck J!

  31. How To Save Money February 23, 2015 at 5:16 AM

    Sure! No shopping for 40 days sounds like a great way to help my wallet.

  32. Gen Y Finance Guy February 24, 2015 at 5:31 PM

    Good luck on round II of the shopping ban.

  33. Thomas @ i need money ASAP! February 24, 2015 at 10:18 PM

    Seems like a cool app idea. The interactive thing is something I’ve been looking to add to my site. The idea being it could help start some good conversations and help me learn more about my readers. I’m going to check it out. Thanks!

    1. J. Money February 25, 2015 at 4:37 PM

      Yeah! Exactly.

      Sign up with them and give it a shot with your readers – I’m sure they’d love to see that! :)

      (and happy to intro you to my contact there if you’d like. not sure if you can build one from scratch without them doing something or not?)

  34. Mr. SSC February 25, 2015 at 8:59 AM

    We enacted a 1st quarter essentials only shopping ban, essentially is consumables only. Now, we do have allowances, so if we buy something that isn’t consumable, one of us ahs to choose who is getting that tab, which goes back to, “Do we NEED this or just WANT this?”
    It’s going well so far. But, our allowances already cover most shopping like clothes, meals out, etc… It works great for us, but yeah I like the No shopping idea. We usually do it once or twice a year for 1-2 months or a quarter.

    1. J. Money February 25, 2015 at 4:38 PM

      The allowances are great for normal life where the bans are good for hitting pause and really reflecting :) I’m not finding it nearly as hard to pull off either unlike the first time I did it 7+ years ago. Even though I have slipped up already accidentally!