As you consider doing a long term no spend challenge, think carefully about preparing for such a long time engulfed in a shopping freeze. Take into consideration all of the things you may need in that period that you may not be able to buy.
Before I officially started my no spend challenge, under the direction of my niece (Cindy, The Great), I took an inventory of the necessities; bras, underwear, socks, mascara, warm winter clothes, to name a few to make sure I had enough to last the year. I did a little Target Haul as my last hoorah as I embarked on new territory for me….not spending money.
Now, I don’t want you to think I am spending money I don’t have. We use the cash envelope system, so I have created an envelope specifically for Target. $40 goes into it every other week, and any time there is money left over from another envelope, that got transferred into Target’s envelope. Except for the last few months…
No Spend Challenge Rules
Here are my rules for this no spend challenge. No clothes, no shoes, no purses or other accessories, either. Also, no household decor and the most difficult one, no books! I can, however, buy anything I want if I receive a gift card or cash for a special occasion. These are the items I spend the most money on. And to be honest, none of these things are a need. Not for me. I have enough clothes, shoes, purses, and accessories to last five years longer than this one year. My house looks adorable, and there might be enough fabric o sew new pillows I want then bad enough!
Books can be borrowed either from the library or from friends. There isn’t a reason to ever purchase a book again. At least that’s the logical answer. However, if you are a lover of books as I am, the appearance of a fully stocked bookshelf makes you smile with delight!
No Spend Challenge To Catch Up On Bills
I am not sure how I got derailed from my budget, but it happened. I was spending like I had a bottomless penny jar. In my defense, it was Christmas time, and my heart LOVES to give. Even if it’s to the CEO of my favorite stores! So, at the end of December, I was able to pull the reigns back and find my frugal self again.
Then, as I have said in my last post, my niece Cindy and her family came on New Year’s Day to celebrate Christmas, and she was telling me about this challenge she did in 2017. Her ‘No Shopping Challenge.’ And how successful she was at it; how her bank account had grown as well as other benefits. She explained her rules and guidelines and how asking for gift cards for special occasions is a must because the main rule is no spending money on clothes, shoes, and accessories for herself. So… Gift cards are a way to get around having new clothes because she is not buying them. She said she talked her husband into buying her a new dress as an Anniversary Gift for an upcoming cousin’s wedding. She also said having a buddy was super important, too; someone you could text in a weak moment to talk you out of that great blouse marked down to $3 at Kohls!
My challenge was a bit different as I am not a huge clothes shopper. I am more of EVERYTHING shopper. New cleaning products, new towels, new organizers for the cupboard, new lip gloss, new books (OH…THE BOOKS!!), new coffee mugs. You get the picture. So mine is a spending freeze of all things that are not necessary.
Want Versus Need
It is an exercise in want versus need. Here is an example (and how I justified a purchase at Hobby Lobby):
Our basement is damp, and over the last year, we have been working to get rid of all the cardboard and put everything into plastic bins. We have been doing a pretty good job, and we have cleared out a LOT of junk. I had this box that organizes greeting cards, but it has a fabric cover that has gotten covered with mildewing int he damp cellar. For months, I have been trying to come up with a creative way to protect these cards because ‘card organizer’ plastic boxes are $25 online and I couldn’t justify that cost.
I found the perfect box at HL! $7!!! I even went to the card aisle and made sure the cards fit.
Did I need it? Well…could I have put the cards in a plastic zipper bag that I already had? Yes. But would it have worked the way I wanted it to by keeping the cards free from other types of damage as well as organizing them in a way that would make them easier to find according to the occasion? Not really. Did I NEED need this box? No. But it served a significant purpose, and I had nothing else that could do the job the way I wanted it to.
Ask These Questions Before Buying
After posting this on facebook, my friend Drew suggested asking the question, “Is it going to save me money in the long run?” If the answer is yes, then there is your permission.
So far, three questions to ask: 1. Do I need it? 2. Will purchasing this save me money? And 3. Do I have enough of this already to last me the year? I may come up with more questions to make the hard decisions later.
There are so many lessons to explore this year. Lessons on want vs. need, on instant gratification (I will miss you, Amazon ‘Buy Now With One Click’), on what need means, lessons on financial decisions and how much can be saved, and a few good lessons on self-control.