After Christmas, I asked two of my good friends that live nearby if they would want to participate in a "No spend January" challenge. I saw a few debt free Instagram accounts promoting this challenge and knew I would be taking a break from social media, but still wanted to participate in some way.
My friends agreed they wanted to participate in the challenge; however, we needed to clarify some rules. We agreed we didn't necessarily want to restrict ourselves to buy nothing for the entire month. We agreed to buy groceries/food and said we would notify each other via group text if we needed to spend on something or had urges to spend on things that weren't necessary. For example, one friend texted during the month and said she had to get her son some athletic pants and spent $8 on them from the Salvation Army. I wanted to buy some new ankle boots for my presentation at MOPS, but did not purchase them due to the challenge.
On February first, we all texted that we had learned a lot about ourselves from the month challenge. One person realized they eat out too often when their husband isn't home. Another identified she was using spending as a way to decompress. For me, I could see that I easily went online to browse when I was stressed or wanted to escape.
The challenge was two-fold. First, we wanted to save some money after Christmas. Next, we wanted to see how often we were spending money that wasn't necessarily a "need", but perhaps in the moment we considered it may have been.
The best example is the ankle boots situation. Being asked to speak in front of 30 women can be intimidating. I wanted to look my best and feel confident and I thought that a new pair of shoes would accomplish that. But, to my surprise, my talk went extremely well, I was asked to speak at another local moms group and my old but trusty shoes did just fine. The ankle boots were not a necessity after all. This situation helped to solidify and identify that I spend money at times on things that I think may make me or someone else feel better, as if it solves the problems of life. But we can't "feel" a certain way due to an object. If we do in that short time feel some type of elated sense of happiness, it fades quickly. If I would have purchased the new ankle boots for a 20 minute talk would I have had those same feelings after? Would purchasing $50 pair of new boots for less than 30 minutes been worth it? For me, it was not. It was a time to recognize that not spending money would not bring me the feelings I wanted to feel. Simply feeling confident because I could was available to me anytime with or without ankle boots.
Sometimes creating a challenge for yourself is a good idea to collect data or just make yourself aware. It doesn't mean you have to be 100% perfect on the challenge. It just means you are mindful and aware. What you do with the data after the challenge is up to you. You can choose to make small changes that help build a new habit.
Because of the "No spend January", I was motivated to create a monthly spending spreadsheet to track of where my money is spent in very specific categories. I am excited to see where we as a family are spending money in February.
Do you have a challenge that you may want to try out? Maybe for a month, for a week, three days, 24 hours?
Here are a list of challenge ideas:
-no social media
-more prayer time
-more bible time
Grab a friend or two and start a challenge that motivates you all! Add or subtract something for a certain amount of time and learn more about yourself.
Thanks for reading,
Mindful Miss Mason