I do this every six months or so, and yet EVERY time I do it, I still find more things that can be culled!
Spending this kind of time on looking at your expenses can REALLY benefit you.
As I found out when I spent a couple of hours doing it, and managed to find over $15,000 in savings JUST in software subscriptions alone.
Here’s how to do it!
1. Get clear on how much your expenses cost!
Create a spreadsheet with your current business expenses, including software subscriptions.
Make sure you use your accounting records to make sure you capture them all – it’s SO easy to forget all the odds and ends! I use Xero for my cloud-based accounting + blooming love it.
Especially important to look for are software subscriptions (especially when you are in an online business!)
They can really add up over time!
Make categories for how much they cost both monthly and annually, whether to keep, look at decreasing or cancelling, when the action was complete, how much monthly savings you made and if you need to take any further actions.
Here’s what mine ended up looking like by the end:
2. Review whether to Keep/Decrease/Cancel
It’s useful looking at costs from both the monthly and annual cost level.
Just because something is fairly cheap on a monthly basis, it can add up on an annual level.
Kill off anything you no longer need.
Businesses change and grow over time, and what you used to need may not be a current need!
I know that we talk about automating and delegating tasks, but the most important decision to make first and foremost is whether that task is truly worth doing. We can’t and don’t have to do EVERYTHING in business. It’s much better to choose specifically what you will do, and do it well, than trying to do everything and do a shit job of it.
Look at whether you are getting a return on the investment you are making. Is it REALLY making you money to keep it? Is there something else that could do a similar thing that costs less?
For example – I realised I had THREE (!!!) social media schedulers for different things. I got it down to the two cheaper priced schedulers, and once more features are brought out in one scheduler I’ll be able to reduce down to just one.
I also colour coded mine because I’m a visual person. Green = no action needed. Orange = need to look into it further. Red = action required to cancel or decrease.
3. If you’re going to Keep it, see if you can reduce price!
I should note here: I don’t ask for refunds or request a lower price for services and courses unless the other person has truly not delivered. Otherwise, I regard it as on me to make the most out of that service/course. That’s just my own personal choice.
Now onto price reduction possibilities:
Firstly, look at their website and see if the current plan you are on is right for your needs.
You may be able to downgrade plans if you aren’t using your current one to its full capacity.
I did this for a number of my subscriptions. I realised I wasn’t using a stack of features I’d signed up for, so I reduced down to only what I truly needed.
My husband also realised that instead of using a year-round subscription for design software, we can do a monthly subscription for the two months of the year that we actually use it. You may not need software year-round – so why bother paying for it when you’re not?
For some companies, it’s really easy to downgrade plans just on their website.
For others that are more complicated, contact them directly.
I hate phone calls, so I usually use their Live Chat feature.
Start the conversation with: “I want to decrease my expenses” or “I’m looking at moving to a cheaper option.”
PayPal, bank fees, even mortgage rates and credit card interest can often be reduced using this method!
Examples how it worked for me:
I talked to my mailing list provider and realised there was a bunch of costs on my bill that I no longer needed because I had changed that part of my business.
I talked to my website hosting provider, and they helped me reduce expenses by changing server plans.
I also found where I had been inadvertently double-charged for subscriptions, and where I was due refunds too!
Free Downloadable Template!
I’ve created a template for you to use if you like!
We can supply both Life and Business editions – whatever you feel would work for your clients!
Every single year since the beginning of the workbooks, we have been donating them to non profit organisations. I’ve also run a meditation + goal setting retreat at a local safe house which was such a beautiful experience. Sharing the workbooks is my way of being able to visit even more places, helping raise spirits and creating change in the world.
This year, for the first time, the workbooks are published by BenBella. I am incredibly grateful that they are willing to carry this philanthropic tradition on!
To apply for free workbooks for your clients, just fill out the form here + my lovely support fairy will be in contact in the next few days.
Those donated workbooks have been used by over 200,000 (!!!!) souls around the planet who needed them, from organisations that included:
schools using them for teenage girls
women’s shelters in the United States
Indigenous Australian women’s services in Sydney, Australia
disadvantaged women advocacy services in Cambodia
animal sanctuary in the United Kingdom (used by their board to business plan their charity! Hooray!)
aged and elderly services in New York
cancer survivors in England
women’s charities in Zimbabwe.
The feedback from the organisations has been really, really wonderful.
Organisations got a lot out of it, their clients got a lot out of it. Clients felt much more inspired, motivated and empowered after using them, and often requested more workshops to have accountability about following through on their goals over the year.
I got this heart-warming email from one of the case workers who used it:
“A few months ago I applied to use the My Shining Year workbook in a community agency. I would like to share with you how the non profit organisation has used the workbook to support clients.
As you might know already our town had its biggest flood in history. There is a whole suburb that went under here and many other places were badly affected. Homes and business were so badly flooded that they won’t be rebuilt again. Many people have struggled after this natural disaster. After reading the offer for the use of the workbook I had a great idea to support women who had been affected by the floods by using this workbook. I went and developed a full day workshop based around the workbook.
As we are non profit organisation and are always needing funding to continue our work I put a proposal together and put it forward to 2 community groups that I thought might help. Zonta and Rotary inner wheel very generously donated money so we could print the book out for participants and funded lunch for the workshop. The workshop was free for all women who attended.
We set out to run 2 workshops, which ended up filling very quickly so we had to put on another one. 40 women in total have attended over 3 workshops and have worked through the workbooks. These workshops provided a space where these women could come together to share of their experiences of the floods and begin to imagine a brighter future for themselves and their families.
The women were all deeply grateful for the workbook and for your generosity to allow us to use them. The workbook was the perfect platform to help these women move from feeling helpless and overwhelmed to feeling empowered.
The feedback from the workshops has been very positive and we would like to continue our work throughout the year to support women who have been affected by the floods.”
This year we want to help even MORE.
That kind of feedback is exactly why we offer this program – to make the workbooks available to ANY woman to help them create goals for their families, lives and businesses, and inspire them to reach them.
I’m aiming to get these in the hands of AT LEAST 100 000 souls who need them this year.
Some essential admin notes:
Please note these are EBOOKS, not printed books. We’ll provide you with PDFs and a licence to print as many as you need. PDFs can be printed out or filled out electronically. You’ll also receive a short guide with instructions/suggestions on how to use the workbooks with clients.
You can order them for as many clients as you like – the more the merrier!
The workbooks can be used with men, but the language and imagery is definitely orientated towards women.
YES – if you’ve received them in past years, we’d be delighted to continue donating to you!
This offer is ONLY for registered non profit organisations. This is not a workbook giveaway free for all. This is not for individuals. This is not for practitioners to giveaway to paying clients. This is only for registered non profit organisations. Please don’t apply unless you are one. Please do not waste my team’s time who could be helping real non profits. If you aren’t sure if you are one or not… you aren’t, so please don’t apply. (I’m sorry if this sounds snarky, but holy dooley we’ve seen some doozy requests over the years!)
Talking through our family, health and finance goals. It’s so blooming good to do this. When we first started doing it, we were broke and crap with money. Savings = zip. Debt = a lot. But when you put attention on these things, it starts shifting. You start getting more intentional. Money starts working for you.
We’re far removed from where we once were: we are self-made multi-millionaires, and pretty financially savvy. But we still have a budget, and we still talk regularly about what we need to be doing with our money to be a good financial custodian.
The importance of being a good financial custodian
Financial literacy is probably the reason why most lotto winners are broke in a few years. They haven’t yet built up the skills and mindset on how to keep money. It’s one thing to have a lot of money, but it’s another thing to actually keep it blooming and growing. It’s a process that comes over time, with self-education and experience.
It’s funny the way we think about millionaires: we think LUXURY SPENDING. Cars, houses, fashion.
But in the excellent book, “The Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas J Stanley, research shows that kind of spending behaviour is for people trying to LOOK like millionaires. Real millionaires tend to instead be fairly conservative with their spending, and not look fancy. They get there is an art to being a good financial custodian, and that spending money isn’t something which grows their net worth (or their happiness). They also tend to be far more able to financially support causes that matter to them.
Anyways, this is a really long way round of saying: me + Mr D have been talking about money again as we work through the workbooks. Have you done your financial planning in your workbook yet? It’s so bloody important.
AND in that process, I’ve realised that I’m doing unconscious spending that isn’t contributing to my net worth or happiness.
Somewhere along the way I’ve started thinking that because I am a cashed up boganaire, I SHOULD be spending money. And I’ve gotten really lazy about spending: thinking I should rather than actually looking at needs and what I currently have that I could be using instead.
I’ve decided to do a No Spend experiment to reset my financial barometers again.
For me, the best way to make a resolution is to do it publicly. (Probably because I’m an Obliger tendency according to this fantastic book.)
I also feel like reducing consumption is an important part of environmental conservation.
So here I am. No Spend Leonie.
Funnily enough, as I was writing this, my friend Jen Storer wrote about her Depth Year and I realised that’s exactly what I’m doing!
“What if, for a whole year, you stopped acquiring new things or taking on new pursuits. Instead, you return to abandoned projects, stalled hobbies, unread books and other neglected intentions, and go deeper with them than you ever have before.”
Let’s talk through the details, yeah? This is for me too, helping me plan out the problem parts.
Where do I spend the most?
Books are my favourite thing to buy. I think nothing of dropping $100-$200 in a bookstore or online book order regularly.
And yet: I have an extraordinary number of books that I haven’t read. I also have a Kindle Unlimited subscription. AND I have an excellent local library.
This has been another favourite shopping pleasure of mine. But I have SO much stuff already. And it can get super pricey super quickly. So I’ll use what I have, and get creative!
Mate, the shit I have can fill rooms. I don’t need more stuff.
HOWEVER: I’m giving myself two opt-outs here. I am in dire need of some new canvasses, and have been meaning to get some for a month. Being an artist is kind of my job, and one of my favourite things in the world. So if I need canvasses, I’ll get ’em. Also, I sometimes like to do cross stitch. I’ve used up the kits I have currently, but if I want to do more, I’ll get myself ONE until I am ready for the next one.
Potential problem areas I need to watch out for: I think one of my biggest spending issues is that I usually buy things online. And when I do, I buy a bigger order to make the shipping cost “worth it”. If I really, really need to buy something online, I need to just buy what I need, not aim for the free shipping amount.
I am not much of a clothes person anyway. I just couldn’t give a shit. Everyday wear is a pair of hippy pants and a printed graphic t-shirt. I’ve got a crap tonne of undies and bras.
Potential problem areas I need to watch out for: this is kind of ridiculous, but I can totally forget to wash my clothes. And then wonder why I don’t have any clothes to wear. And then I buy more. I just need to do washing when I run out of clothes! PROBLEM SOLVED!
I’ve got piles of it. Now to just USE IT.
Potential issue: I have one art journal here, and the rest of my stock is in storage. My blank art journals are by far my most important piece of stationery. A couple of years ago, I went a bit nuts and bought a case of 20 of my favourite art journals so I would never be without them. I’ve used the exact same journal type for the last 20 years – since I was 16! Anyways, that stock is in storage now until we find our next house. So I’ve got one journal to tide me over until then. They usually last me about 3-4 months. If the end of the journal comes before our new house does, I will need to get me another one. OR! I could do something COMPLETELY CRAZY and… use a different kind of journal as my art journal. Phwoar. I think I’ve just blown my own mind right there.
We will see what happens. I’m just spitballing possibilities here. If I need to buy myself another $10 journal, so be it! I just want to be really intentional with my purchases instead of unconscious.
In terms of pens, I THINK I have enough stock to get me through at least a few months. If I run out, I need to dig around in boxes: I’m sure there is SO much stationery around!
This one was actually the first thing I started fretting about when I thought about my No Spend Experiment. I like to buy magazines not for the purpose of reading (though I DO read them!) – instead their chief purpose is for collage supplies for my art journalling. I’ve been chopping up magazines since childhood. Ha!
Things I can do to work with this issue: I need to organise my creative space. I found 2 brand new magazines that I’d bought and didn’t even take out of the paper bag from months ago. I also have scrapbook paper I can use instead. And it could create an opportunity for a different kind of journaling/creative experience.
As a last resort, I could get some from a charity or tip shop.
I do like to treat my friends and family! Gift giving is one of my love languages.
I can probably be way more creative though: make thoughtful things for them. Consider other ways I can send love.
It’s amazing what shit I can buy at Big W or Kmart. It’s not even a specific thing… it’s just because they are cheap and accessible, really. I want to be way more intentional about giving Big W my $.
Potential problem areas I need to watch out for: my husband and kids LOVE Big W. It’s next to our local post office and always feels so easy just to stroll on into. Mr D buys practical shit for the house. The kids use their pocket money to buy something. This is my experiment, not theirs. Having said that, Mr D does want to be more intentional as well, so we will probably cut down our number of trips there.
Like all homeschool mamas, I went NUTS on buying books and curriculum for homeschooling. And haven’t even used 10% of what I’ve bought. This year, I want to use what we’ve got and not buy anything more.
I’ve also got an Education.com subscription, and I can also look at Pinterest and make supplies we need as well! Like today I was lusting over some flash cards and realised I could make them super easily, and they would probably be way cuter too.
I order all my skin care supplies and hair care through doTERRA as part of my monthly order.
I make my skin care using their essential oils, and use it for almost everything healthcare, soulcare and bodycare.
I only order what I need anyway, plus I reckon it’s a good preventative healthcare expense.
This one I am not sure on. On one hand, I LOVE encouraging literacy with my kids. On the other hand, we have SO MANY books already. I think the solution is: make full use of the library instead (which we already do). And let them use their own pocket money on books. And if Mr D wants to get books for them on occasion, I’ll follow his instinct.
We pretty much are sorted on this front. The only thing that may need replenishing in their wardrobe is leggings in winter. Still, that’s 6 months away. And there are some there already. Again: I just need to be intentional.
And make sure I JUST DO THE DAMN WASHING when we run out of clothes!
I’ll cover these in my next post… that’s a whole other thing to discuss!
Areas my No Spend Experience doesn’t cover:
Cafes. Mama likes her cafes. I’ve thought about doing a no spend experience on cafes, but honestly, that would cut a huge chunk of enjoyment out of my life. Mr D suggests we only go there on weekends as a treat. WE WILL SEE.
Mr D’s spending. He spends fuck all anyway. He’s the kind of dude that will splash out and buy himself a $6 computer mouse and be thrilled and tell me all about it. He’s super conscious of his spending habits, and I have no interest or need to moderate them. It’s my unintentional spending that is my area of concern.
Car. We will probably trade in our old van for a new car this year. We bought the van second-hand fairly cheaply years ago. I’m wanting to get a new car with better safety features because I am officially middle aged (is 36 middle aged? I’m middle aged in my soul anyway) and I care about things like SAFETY and LAP BLANKETS and RETIREMENT FUNDS.
House. We’ve been saving up for a new larger house for three years. That will probably happen this year.
How long will this experiment go for?
Good question. I want to do as much of this year as possible.
I am also not going to be militant about it. I just don’t have that personality type.
If I mess up, I’m not going to be cross with myself. Just keep turning up and being more intentional and doing better.
The point of this all is to reset my spending barometer.
I’m thinking about maybe keeping track of all the purchases I do make, just so I am super clear to begin with.
Or even writing a list of all the books I do have sitting on my bookshelves and crossing them off as I go. How fun does that sound?
And most of all: enjoying what I have.
There’s so much to love already. I don’t need more.
I’ve also created two pages to document this experiment in further detail:
I’m writing to you from a wooden table at the top of a sand dune.
The water is surging and rushing at the beach below.
The breeze is sweet, the afternoon sun is bronzing my feet.
Here I am.
I’ve escaped the house for a couple of hours.
My kids and husband are designing new “skins” for their Minecraft world.
We’ve already spent the whole day together. Gone to the library, trawled the street for smoothies, wondered whether the helicopters and police and fire stations circling the base of the world’s second largest rock are there for a rescue or just to practice. My husband remarks “Pretty sure it’s just a practice run, not many rescue operations also have a mobile coffee and hot dog van next to them.” I tell him: “Rescuers need energy too!”
By the time it’s 3pm, it’s time for me to run toward solitude.
Sometimes it is easy to do this, like today. I tell my family I am leaving, and my husband sweetly says “Go. Go find yourself a little place to sit at the beach.”
Other times it is harder. Sometimes they’d really not rather I go. Sometimes my four year old is so clingy she won’t even brush her teeth without me in the bathroom with her.
“I will be wonely without you Mummy,” she tells me, eyes brimming with tears.
I go anyway, because if I don’t I will be swallowed up alive, and I will be closing my eyes, hands clenched, becoming the shrieking mother I never wanted to be.
I go because my wholeness relies on it, and if I don’t, I am combustible.
I’m not always as committed to it as I am right now.
I’m committed to self care and solitude so I’m not committed to an institution.
I’m committing, and will continue having to recommit to it for the rest of my life, because a Swallowed Whole life with no space for reflection or creativity is my own kind of purgatory.
I know I’m privileged in this.
But self care is never earned or given, it always has to be claimed. Even when you think you can’t do it.
Especially when you think you can’t do it.
I gave up showering daily when I had kids.
Gave up brushing my teeth twice daily and went down to just one.
Gave up breakfast for a long time there.
All those microscopic time saving methods as a mother.
Giving up basic levels of self-care because I was stretched in other directions.
But my kids are 8 and 4 now, and it’s time for me to claim back more time again. More of me again.
I tell my husband:
“I wonder if I should try and fit in daily showers again.”
“Things aren’t what they used to be hon. We don’t have shrieking babies anymore. These little things can make a big difference.”
Gotta recommit to it, over and over again.
But I’m supposed to be talking about my yearly planning right now.
And all this came out.
But maybe that’s the answer anyways.
That life is busy. And if you parent, life is extra busy.
And we still need time with ourselves and our dreams anyway.
Need to carve it out by hook or by crook, knowing it will make all the difference.
And it has.
Yesterday, I wasn’t up to driving anywhere, so I walked around the corner from my house to the little park that is there.
Took my workbooks with me. Left my phone and laptop at home.
Sat on the ground while the ants crawled all over me.
Shifted around as the sun shifted around.
Watched a scrub turkey stroll by, admired his impossible fan of a tail.
Watched a teen girl stride by me to the swings, headphones on. She swung wildly with abandon for the longest time, listening to that music, staring out at the coastal gums. I felt like she had life worked out, that chick. She knew what she needed to do for her. And she did it.
To set goals in every area of my life and business for the year ahead.
I was pregnant with my first baby back then.
I knew the initiation into motherhood would be tough.
Needed a mast to lash myself too.
The mast of my dreams and goals.
A love letter to myself in the future, to remind me of who I am and what I want for when I get lost in the dark.
The workbooks are my room of one’s own, as Viriginia Woolf would say.
They just also happen to have been the room for 350,000 other people now as well.
350,000 souls lashing themselves to the mast of their own biggest dreams and sweetness.
We will ride out the big waves of life.
I’ve done my yearly planning. Up trees, in cafes, in bed.
It’s usually better to do it outside of my office/usual work space.
I just feel clearer when I remove myself from it.
I’m always fascinated when people worry too much about what pen to use or which binding work betters or the “best way” to fill out the workbooks or if they need to be in a different mood or energy to do it “properly”.
As though everything must be perfect in order to dream a perfect dream.
That it must be imminently Instagrammable.
I must tell you: it’s never been perfect for me.
Planning has always happened in stolen hours. Sometimes I’m in a filthy mood when I begin. There is currently a screaming child near by me. It’s not my own, which is a pleasant change. I use whatever pen I can find at the bottom of my bag. I usually have ants using me as their own personal workout joint. There is frog shit on the bench beside me.
It doesn’t fucking matter.
All that matters is that I DO IT.
In a world that wants to swallow us whole, it’s a reclamation to take time for ourselves. To get quiet enough to know: This is what I want. This is what I will do to get there.
People ask if the Closing Ceremony in the workbooks is that important.
I must tell you: it is.
It will give you healing. And clarity.
From years that are disordered and painful, it will weave the threads into a tapestry.
You will leave that ceremony feeling resolved.
You will see the gifts in the grit, the reason in the random.
Plus: all that life and story and experience? It’s gifted you wisdom that will benefit you for years to come. May as well take the time to mine for it now.
It usually happens in January, this whole planning thing. Give myself a deadline, squeeze in stolen hours until it happens.
It affects my whole year, so it’s time well spent.
Once it’s written down, I keep it close.
Refer to it often.
“A millionaire looks at their goals once a day, a billionaire looks at them twice.”
Everything I’ve created, I’ve written it down in those books first.
And come back to it again and again.
Created what I wanted, even when the winds try and blow me off course.
“If you don’t know where you’re aiming, you’ll hit it every time” – Zig Ziglar
I put it in my diary.
Schedule it all out.
Make it ritual.
Return to it over and over.
And day by day, a year is transformed.
Time for me to head down the sand dune.
Put my feet in the water.
Look out at the blue sky.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
For all this. The beauty and the despair.
And most of all: Thank you, Leonie of two hours ago. For gifting me with the deepest medicines I know: solitude and creativity.
My dearest is the kind who reads Social Psychology textbooks for fun, and who psychoanalyses as a hobby. I don’t mind, because I find lying on a couch very comfortable, and it lets me get undivided attention from him. WIN WIN!
Here’s the convo we had:
“Hon, how many goals do you have?”
“Well, there’s 100 personal goals for this year, and another 150 personal goals for my life… and then 150 business goals I am working on this year… but those don’t include my monthly income goals… or the weekly goals about what I want to create…”
“Right. Okay. Right. I see.”
I can see in his eyes he didn’t really expect my answer to be in the triple digits.
He’s silent for a while. And then:
“Hon, you do realise the average person has 15 GOALS OR LESS???”
At this point, I laugh hysterically.
“15??? HA! HAHAHAHAHA! But you know, when you think about it, I do get a lot more done than most people. There’s probably a correlation there. I’m very discerning about what I want in my life. And I make it happen.”
He is silent for a while.
I think I’ve awed him into silenced. That, or he’s pondering what to make us for dinner. I never really know. He keeps me in suspense, that dude.
But I’ve kept thinking about it.
Kept thinking about the average person’s goals + why I have so many.
And here’s what I’ve come up with:
I’m ding dang passionate about my visions + making them come true.
And I love correlating what works + what doesn’t.
I’m a devotee of my dreams, and thus I’m a goddess of my goals.
And I KNOW that when I write down my goals (aka the map of how to make my dreams come true)… they come true quicker + with more certainty.
So it’s pretty obvious why I’m such a massive ra-ra-cheerleader of the goals!
There’s a certain magic that comes from having goals + writing them down.
If I decide to do anything, I write it down + make it achievable.
It’s the difference between driving from New York to LA with your iPhone maps app in hand… and deciding you want to drive to LA but not even taking a damn map. What’s going to get you there quicker and with less frustration?
The story gets even more severe when you don’t even decide that you want to go to LA. You don’t decide where you want to go at all. So you just get in your car and drive around aimlessly, not really sure what you’re looking for – and not really finding it either.
Goals are the destination and they are the map to get you there.
I reckon ya gotta have them – and what’s more ya gotta make your goals achievable.
How do you make goals achievable?
Instead of wishy washy goals of “I want to spend time with my love”, I write down “I want to have 20 date nights with my husband this year.” And when it comes to releasing new programs, I don’t say “I want a successful launch”, I say “I want to find the 300 people who are needing this.”
Wishy washy goals are ones you can’t ever tick off as being DONE. There’s a lack of certainty about whether you’ve arrived or not.
Achievable goals are tick-off-able and doable. That’s what ya need.
Goals keeps my actions in line with my intentions.
Once I know numbers, I can work out HOW to make those numbers happen.
And guess what? Sure as shit, they do come true. When you get so super clear on what you want to create + make those goals a part of your daily practice… of course it’s going to happen!
The point of all THIS is…
Have you written down your goals for this year, this month, this week? Have you started your 2019 My Shining Year goals workbooks yet? Have you got a list of your dreams? Is the path from where you are right now to where you want to be written down, mapped out + on its way?
Put your actions where your intention are…
and see your dreams manifest into reality.
That’s what it takes.
To create everything you want.
Let’s do this, possum. We can make ANYTHING happen!