I’ve been tinkering with the idea of “intuitive spending” recently. Intuitive Eating has recently profoundly impacted my life. My relationship with food has been something I’ve thought about since I was 13. I know I’m not alone. Tons of people, especially women, battle disordered eating due to many reasons including the exponential level that we receive advertisements today, which portray a very limited view of what women should look like. That, plus the constant access to social media where we see people posting photos of themselves from their best angles mixed with the monetization of the wellness industry– basically, it’s easy to understand why it’s impossible to go through a day without hearing one of my friends or coworkers talking about their new paleo, plant-based, or sugar free diet.
I had heard about intuitive eating a few times, but for some reason, it didn’t stick until recently. I had just spent 22 days completing a “mini-whole 30”. Although my body did feel somewhat cleansed and healthy, it had been a rather grueling mental journey. I had multiple food dreams(that a friend told me were basically “user-dreams”), I felt moody, and I felt a too obsessed. Why am I doing this?
Why did I feel drawn to Whole 30s? Why did I feel the need to perfect the way I ate? I think it stems from many things that I may dive into in a future post, but I had reached my limit. I was close to being ready to let go of my inner perfectionist, at least with food. Right around this time I happened upon this post on one of my favorite blogs. Kelsey Miller’s writing stopped me in my tracks because I resonated so deeply with her words.
“Body acceptance is not “giving up on yourself.” And eating without restriction is not mindless, wild bingeing. It’s the opposite.” – Kelsey Miller
I’m a month into intuitive eating, and I don’t think I’ll be returning to dieting anytime soon, even if that means I may not always fit into the jeans I can only fit into after two weeks of Whole 30. If fitting into those jeans means thinking excessively about what I eat for weeks, then I will pass. I would rather be happy, satiated, and using my knowledge and energy to create and work on my passions than dream about cakes because I haven’t had sugar in days. There is a true health component of diets like Whole 30 and paleo, but as a relatively healthy 25-year-old I think I’m okay taking a break from all of that for a bit.
Now, let’s talk money!
Transforming the way I eat via intuitive eating has me wondering if I could apply the same principles to money. My relationship with food is somewhat similar to my relationship with money. In both realms, I have a fear of scarcity. Until I started intuitive eating, I almost always finished my entire plate, cookie, or whatever it was regardless of how full I was. Just like with food, I almost always spend all of my money I have to spend, regardless of if I need the things I’m purchasing or not. If I give myself 100 dollars to spend in a week, I will spend all of it, and maybe more. The more prescriptive and obsessive I get about my budgets, the more likely I’ll be to overspend.
Setting rules around money make me want to break those rules. I don’t want to spend money because I’ve budgeted out the exact amounts I can spend and I want to hit those targets. I want to use money as a tool to help me thrive. This might sound a little out there, but that’s exactly how intuitive eating sounded when I first learned about. I thought if I’m allowed to eat anything and everything won’t I eat like 12 cupcakes every day? The truth is no, I won’t. Intuitive eating is giving me confidence that I intuitively do know what my body craves, and it’s not always cupcakes. In fact, today I found myself craving exactly what I had packed for lunch which was rice with sweet potatoes, chicken, cauliflower, and black beans, and it was so satisfying. I had a resees cup after lunch without thinking twice. I don’t know what I’ll have for dinner, or what I’ll eat tomorrow, but when the time comes for my next meal I’ll check in with how I’m feeling physically and emotionally, and make a decision.
Although I’ve gotten better with managing money over the past few years, I still find myself overthinking about it. I don’t want to spend too much or too little. I have savings goals that I try to follow to a T. The whole things makes me feel like a robot and makes me resent my money, rather than feeling grateful for all the amazing things it affords me. Maybe if I take away strict rules around money, I won’t automatically go into thousands of dollars of debt. Maybe I have a better intuitive relationship with money than I give myself credit for.
Maybe. The other side of this argument is that whereas food is a necessary thing the body needs to survive, money is a social construct that is kind of meaningless from a biological perspective. Whereas my body needs food, and humans have consumed food for ages, so, therefore, it makes sense I have an innate understanding how to intuitively nourish my body, that may not translate very smoothly into money management. Capitalism isn’t natural. Consumerism isn’t natural. Maybe this won’t be as intuitive and easy as I would like to hope.
There is still a lot to think about with intuitive spending, but at the core of it is the concept of being a mindful consumer. Intuitive spending does not include spending 80 dollars at forever 21 tired after a long day of work on outfits I may or may not really wear that much. Intuitive spending would not include unintentionally spending 100 dollars at Target when I meant to buy two things, although, sometimes those Target trips really do bring me some joy. Intuitive spending would include practical items, but it wouldn’t be limited to practicality. There is a joy and art to spending your income, and intuitive spending for me could look like purchasing fresh flowers for my apartment or a candle to light when I get home from work. Although these things aren’t necessary, they add something of value to my life.
Just like Intuitive Eating has guidelines, I want to create Intuitive Spending principles.
- Pay Yourself First
- Make Peace with Spending.
- Reject the Idea of Strict Budgeting (unless that really works for you!)
- Understand What Brings You Joy
- Respect Your Belongings
- Self-Care, Always
- Understand Where Your Money is Going
- Enjoy Your Life
I am going to play with these ideas some more, but plan to kick of 2019 as a year of intuitive spending. Stay tuned!