Every now and again I do a month- long spending freeze, and I’m starting another today. I actually really love doing this once or twice a year, because they inspire me to:
- slow down and be grateful for what I have;
- be more creative when solving problems (make do without, borrow, make my own, etc);
- tackle overdue projects I’ve already got the supplies for, explore my city, connect with friends, get rid of excess…basically just channel my energy toward the things I otherwise overlook;
- give a new look to old stuff (I like changing things up, and during spending freezes I just rearrange, shop the house, try some different outfit pairings, etc. to get my fix)
I always decide at the beginning, what the “rules” will be. I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist, a downfall of that being that when I mess up, I give up! By establishing what’s allowed, what the exceptions are, etc, I am more likely to stick with a challenge. The allowable expenses this time around are:
- Household consumables (items to clean, personal care stuff, etc – though I will make most if not all of this category)
- Reasonable “experience” expenses. This is new; typically I also try to avoid these when doing a spending freeze. But this time I will allow a bit of spending for a night out (we have one planned mid-month), Mom’s Club activities (like admission into a museum), a family outing or two, and renewal of our Nature Center membership.
So what is NOT allowed is: décor items, office supplies, makeup, clothing (for any of us), books (for any of us), toys, and random tempting Amazon purchases. Even thrift shopping is going to be a no-go. This month I’m focusing on removing (even more) things from the house and not bringing any in. So I’ll be going through our things again and again to minimize our possessions, selling, donating, and giving away anything extraneous. I’ve already sent countless bags and boxes of things to charity shops over the last 3 months, but I am not finished yet. Though I’m not much of a retail junkie, my thrift shopping tendencies, as well as my always saying “YES!” to other people’s cast-offs has really added up. That, and just the general epiphany that less is more – I am truly feeling more at home the more I get rid of (knowing that most everything left is useful or special).
The only physical item I will allow is new glasses – I need them pretty badly, and April is when my benefits will allow for them. I do also have two birthday gifts to factor in; I haven’t decided if I will purchase gifts or get a little creative..
This time around, I’m particularly excited to see how zero waste will affect this challenge. My spending over the last month has been mainly swapping out disposable or junky plastic stuff for good-quality, sustainable items I can use indefinitely. I’m not entirely done, but the wasteful disposables, most toxic plastics, Teflon, and vinyl (aka, the worst offenders) are out of our lives. We can absolutely make do with what we have now for a while.
I’ve got a little list of projects to do this month, but they aren’t going to keep me up at night. I just have my list in case I get the itch to do something productive and don’t want to be tempted to hit the hardware store or thrift store for a project.
Have you ever done a no-spend month? If you want to join me, let me know and we can trade tips and updates!