I’ve written about the nitty gritties of the ‘No Spend Days’ chart HERE, way back in 2018, then HERE in the middle of 2020. That last one was funny because I was congratulating myself on an 18-week streak of silver weeks. I never dreamed I’d get to 61!
For the TL;DR version: I have a chart set up from Saturdays to Fridays. Every day I don’t spend money I get to colour in a square. This worked ok at first, but it lacked an incentive. When I added the EXTRA column – the one where, if I spent money on 3 or less days per week I get to colour in a silver square, that’s when my spending ratched up a level. The chart makes me concentrate on when I pull out my credit card. It makes my spending intentional. I still spend money, but never mindlessly.
I wanted to keep my winning streak of low spend weeks going for as long as I could. The first lockdown kicked off the streak of consecutive low-spend weeks, but last week was when it all came to an end. After 61 straight weeks of keeping my spending to 3 days per week or below… along comes a 4 day week.
So what happened last week?
It all started when Ryan26 went to Aldi because we’d run out of tinned tuna. He likes to have that for lunch. We’d run out of onions and a few other bits and bobs, so I told him to take my credit card and stock up on a few things. That was Sunday.
I was having lunch with Simone, the old school friend that I caught up with after 40 years when I was on my holiday in South Australia, and another school friend who I’ve stayed in touch with over the years. We were meeting on Thursday, so that was going to be a definite ‘spend’ day.
We’ve just come out of a 2 week lockdown and I was overdue for a visit to the hairdresser. I decided to go on Wednesday. This meant that Friday had to be a ‘no spend’ day. What could go wrong?
Jeff’s eye, that’s what.
Cavaliers have such big, beautiful eyes. Sometimes they get a bit mucky but they clear up in a day or so. This eye slowly got worse. Ryan26 noticed something was a bit wrong with it late Wednesday … Thursday it looked as if it might be getting better but on Friday morning we woke, I looked at it and rang the vet.
My 61 week silver streak had finally run its course. Anyway, I think that 61 straight weeks was pretty good. Jeffrey’s eye is improving and really, that’s the important thing. Poor little man. Having an ulcer on your eye is never a good thing. We caught it early.
But maybe it was always fated to end on this day? A couple of days before, a friend from work rang me and said, “It’s correction day on Friday AND it’s my birthday. I’m going to get all my marking done before Friday – damned if I’m going to work on my birthday! – so do you want to go out for lunch?”
I hesitated. I knew this would be the end of my silver streak, but I knew it had to finish someday. However…
“Will it be just us or will there be other people?”
I knew that if there was going to be a group of us, then that was it. No more winning streak. But if it was just us… then I could serve lunch here instead and my silver week would be saved!
“No, just you and me,” she said.
I explained about the winning streak and she laughed and agreed to come to my place for lunch instead. I knew she’d understand. She’s one of the people at work who talk finances with each other. She’s on a similar path to me, on a quest to pay off her house and retire early(ish).
Apparently, at work they now call it “doing a Frogdancer.”
The chart is one of the ways to make the hard slog in the middle of the FI/RE journey fun. Every day you get to colour in the chart is a little achievement; something to mark the fact that you’re putting in the effort along the way. People need little wins when working towards financial independence and this was a technique that works brilliantly for me.
Yes, I’ve reached FIRE. So why do I still do this?
This chart was one of the things that helped me to get there. So why on earth would I stop using it? It’s proved its worth. It’s also handy when you want to check things like when the dogs’ vaccinations are due, how many weeks since you’ve had a haircut, and it’s invaluable when filling in my ‘Annual Spend’ chart each month.
In the middle of the second lockdown last year, I asked myself the question – “How long can you keep this silver week streak going?”
I’ve discovered the answer.