It’s been long overdo, but I decided to see first hand what it feels like to not spend money for one week in an attempt to curb my spending addiction. You can read about the impetus for the challenge here : No spend challenge.
Not many people would probably admit publicly they spend too much money, especially if they do it to impress others and are living above their means. I’ll be the one to raise my hand admitting I spend more than I’d like to with the hope that it inspires others to take a closer look at their behaviors and how it affects their financial outlook, and life for that matter. For those that think this challenge should be easy or it’s not a challenge at all, more power to you. I challenge you to determine if anything I describe in this post resonates with you and then do something about it.
The most glaring thing I noticed from this exercise is how MUCH I think about buying things. It’s a natural occurrence in my head to be thinking about what to buy no matter how small the item. I attribute some of this to being the primary household shopper for my household. Therefore, I’m keenly aware of our household supply and when we need to restock (i.e., eggs, toilet paper, laundry detergent).
I plan the budget, input the numbers on a spreadsheet, track inventory of our supplies, type the grocery and household lists, and make the purchases. I’m constantly searching for the best deals by examining the ads from my favorite stores and timing my purchases appropriately based on sales. It’s a deliberate process that requires detail and attention in an effort to maximize our budget.
Many external forces also contribute to constantly thinking about buying. CONSUMERISM. These forces can be subliminal or overt. Keep in mind we live in a capitalist society here in the U.S. Take a look to see if you can relate to any of the items in the following list. I might be missing some.
- People on social media
- Ads on social media
- General internet ads (ads embedded in internet articles)
- Emails from your favorite stores
- Texts from your favorite stores
- Smart phone apps
- Magazines (lifestyle, travel, food, etc.)
- Kids asking for stuff or to go places (fast food, “let’s go to Dollar Tree”, etc.)
- TV commercials
- Youtube videos on shopping “hauls” (Dollar Tree, Target, Aldi, Walmart, Costco, etc.)
- Sales flyers
- Product samples
- Friends/family wanting you to support their business
In the first couple of days of the challenge, ideas would pop into my head of what I needed to buy and then I’d remember that I made this commitment to myself to not spend any money. I’m not going to say that by Day 6, I’m not thinking of buying anything because that’s not true. However, the act of not buying something when I want it, and knowing I can afford it, made me pause to consider how important the item really is. It made me assess needs and wants, which is the basics of budgeting and personal finance.
It’s not a foreign concept for me to substitute or make do without something because for 3 years, I was supporting our household on one income. I had no choice but to focus on our needs primarily. There was little room for wants, but not much. I tapped into my creativity in making do with what we had. Although we’re no longer in that tighter financial situation, we still have financial goals to achieve. One goal is to give more money to causes we support. We’ve done some of that this year already.
This challenge is only a week so I will spend again eventually. I honestly don’t like that thinking about buying things takes up so much space in my mind because there’s much more to life. Some of the things I’ve done to clear my mind of the bombarding messages to “BUY BUY BUY” is to avoid Youtube videos on shopping hauls. I spend a fair amount of time on YouTube and there are a lot of these types of videos. When I watch them, they give me ideas on things to buy that I don’t need. I also have unsubscribed from some email lists. I need to do the same for texts. Why do I need a text from Dressbarn and Bed Bath and Beyond? Since I also realized that some of my spending is emotional (boredom, happy, anxious), I also made a list with my husband and daughter of activities we could do that doesn’t involve spending money.
This challenge has put things in perspective. It also reminds me of how grateful I am for my loved ones, the life I get to live, and my blessings.
Mantra: I have enough. I am enough.