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In this episode, one person shows us the inventive journaling tactic she uses to avoid impulse spending.

Through weekly video essays, "Making It Work" showcases how *real* people have upgraded their personal or financial lives in some meaningful way. Making your life work for you doesn't mean getting rich just for the sake of it. It means making the most of what you have to build a life you love, both in your present and in your future. And while managing money is a crucial life skill for everyone, there's no one "right way" to go about it — you have to figure out what works best for *you,* full stop.

Based on an article by Bree Rody:

Video by Grace Lee

The Financial Diet site:

Making It Work is brought to you by Skillshare, an online learning community helping you move your creative journey forward, without putting life on hold.

Every morning, at 8:00 AM, I slide into my home office with my second cup of coffee and open a beige, inconspicuous little book, pages filled with little tick marks and an ever fluctuating list of random items-- sportswear, leggings, briefcase, scrunchy. All of these have random numbers next to them to denote point values.

The leggings, for example, are 450. At first glance, it looks like a shopping list. That's not quite accurate.

It's a list of things I want to buy at some point. The tick marks represent every day I didn't buy any of those things. So with 19 things that I'm currently eyeing, and having not purchased any of them in the last 24 hours, I add 19 marks onto my tally.

These are my points. Currently, I have 673 points accumulated. This is my impulse journal.

And I've been using it every day for the last six months. I started using it after a few months of staying at home, when I realized I'd become very comfortable with online shopping. I wanted to develop a system that would allow me to balance prudence and pragmatism, while still treating myself.

It started by writing down three things that had been on my mind the last couple days-- a cute lip pencil in a trendy tone, a new skin serum I wanted to try, and a tube of cream blush. All things I could afford, but didn't necessarily need. I assigned each item a point value.

And every day I didn't purchase those items, I added three points into my journal. After 10 days, I had more than enough points to buy the little pencil. But I decided to keep going and save up for the serum.

A system was born. Here's how it works. Right now, 19 items on my list is a high number.

But, like I said, the list has fluctuated since June. Everything on the purchase list has a point value. They range from low value things, like a $30 heated brush-- 100 points-- or a pair of classic checkered vans-- 150-- to mid-range things like some nice planters-- $300-- to big ticket items like new bedding-- 1,000 points.

Currently, my 673 points are enough to buy myself the vans and a new vibrator-- yes, I have a vibrator on that list-- and still have enough left over to buy the heated comb. If I were to buy all this in one day, the next day I would only be adding 16 points onto my tally. But I could keep racking up the points for a new sweater that I've assigned 800 points.

There's no special math formula for how I decide and items point value. I go with what feels right. It's based partially on price, but also on how much I actually need something.

For example, a new set of curtains and a curtain rod surely will cost more than the vibrator I've been eyeing. But when I consider that my husband and I have been sleeping with IKEA paper blinds for five years, it's pretty easy to see that one is a bit more essential than the other. So I assign them the same point value-- 400.

This system works for me because it has helped counter my "just buy it now" mentality by visualizing my savings and waiting progress. It has given me much more peace and patience when making purchases. It also helps me realize when I've been depriving myself too much, and helps me press go on a purchase without feeling that awful post-spending binge feeling.

I never intentionally created rules for my impulse journal, but I have a few guidelines I follow to hold myself accountable. For one, I won't use my impulse journal or my purchase list to get the things that I need. If half my socks have holes in them, I'm not going to make myself earn new socks.

When I run out of mascara, I didn't make myself earn new mascara. This has also helped me really distinguish what is essential versus what is just for fun. I also won't lower the value of an item because it went on sale.

When I purchased a pair of headphones on Black Friday, for 350 points, the headphones themselves had been marked down. But that didn't change how essential the purchase was. Two things have been most surprising about my journal.

First, that I've stuck to it. No cheating, no adjustments, no last minute changes to point values. I've become very comfortable with the prospect of waiting and taking my time on purchases.

The other thing that surprised me even more is how many things I've crossed off the list because I realized I didn't actually want them. I've crossed at least half a dozen things off the list, like a new pair of glasses or new boots, simply because I realized the want I felt for them was fleeting. And yes, when I do that, I stop accumulating those points going forward.

I'd say the money I saved surprised me, but honestly it's not a surprise. I haven't gone over or even come close to my personal spending, miscellaneous budget amount in six months. And that's an amount I set when I made $10,000 a year less than I currently do.

That money is being repurposed into smart investments, along with investments I was already making. It all goes with the general feeling of satisfaction I felt from the impulse journal. I now know that I can wait for things, that it feels good to wait, and that occasionally spending on something just to delight yourself isn't a bad thing.

As for my plans to maintain an impulse journal for the long run, I plan to keep for some time, locked down or not. I'd like to keep it up for at least a year. Skillshare is an online community designed for real life, so you can move your creative journey forward without putting your plans on hold.

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