3 weeks into my no-spending challenge, and 1 left to go. I'm feeling strong. Content. Surprised. It's hard to put into words what this experiment has done to me. Rather than feel deprived or restrained I have felt surprisingly happy. No eating out. No great deals at Target. No early holiday shopping. No new socks. No paid events with the kids. No lattes. No 75% clearance sales at Old Navy. No haircuts. (Okay, that one bites.) No replacing my kids pajama pants or jeans. No extras. No last minute purchases. Nothing. In fact, when I've gone to the grocery store (the one place, besides gas, I said I would not include in the challenge) I'm not even the least bit tempted to "sneak" things into the grocery bill. Like paper towels or extra cookies or flowers. Nada. Actually, I've saved $100 just on groceries this month! I so want to be wise with the one place I get to spend money, that I'm taking extra time to make every cent count. (You should see the dishwashing detergent I have left. Mere morsels... and I'm determined to stretch them to next week.)

Most telling of all has been the fact that the kids... have... not... noticed! At all. (See the above photo? Completely at ease.) Only last night did Carver say, "Mom, I really need new pajamas." (The hole in the knee of his jammies is the size of a watermelon now.) I answered, "It's on my list, honey." And that was it.

I am excited about the fact that I did this challenge in November. I think that even though I've probably missed out on some great sales for Christmas presents for all the people in my family, I will spend less in December than I would have otherwise. I feel less inclined to buy extras. I feel more inclined to give of my time. And I feel even more determined to make the money I do spend in December to matter.


Courtney O. said...

you're great! I definitely did not feel content. I struggled. We are doing it in January again... maybe you'll encourage me towards a heart that is more welcoming to the challenge. Thanks.

Vivi said...

Ok, I'm tempted. Not ready to commit, but tempted. You are inspiring.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading all your posts about this "no spending" challenge and wondering at why they stick in my craw so much...and today I realized what it is. "3 weeks left, one week to go." Your spending limitation has a known end. In one week, all this self-imposed limitation is over and you can spend however you like. And I think that's what has bothered me about this whole experiment. Do you think you would be as content if you *had* to live like this for years and years and years, if you weren't just choosing to live like it for a time? If there was no replacing of the pj's or socks until there were no socks and you had to forego buying milk so that you could get the socks? This is sounding much more scathing than I mean it to be, and maybe I'm kidding myself when I say I'm only a *little* jealous that you even have the ability to do an experiment such as this. :) We've lived like your experiment for nearly as long as I can remember, and you'd think I'd just learn to "live with it", but it gets really, really old. And while I'd like to say I've learned to be content with less or with doing without altogether...and most of the time I'm fine...I do get frustrated with always having to "put it on the list", expecially when stuff gets put on the list, and sometimes never gets OFF the list. I think if you want to make your experiment "real", you should try to do it for a whole year. Through the holidays. See how well you can do when not spending really matters. That would be a real test of your creativity and mettle. And it might make more of an impact - on you and your kids.

(too chicken to sign my name, but hoping you'll still read this anyway)

J-momma said...

wow. i'm interested in trying this too. especially since we just bought a house and really need to cut back to the essentials until we sell ours. i'm going to have to think about this.

cathy said...

dear anonymous.
of course you're right. my spending challenge has an end and that makes it so much easier to try this. i, myself, did not come up with the challenge--i saw it from 2 other bloggers who did this last year. it's named 30 days of nothing so that it has a start, middle, and end. i mentioned in one of my posts exactly what you said... that though it's hard to forego some creature comforts this month, i know i can go out and replace what i need in december. my month of restriction is lifted and i can go back to normal. i also refrenced the book "Not Buying It" about a woman who did live like this for a year--and after reading her story a few years ago, I have nothing but the utmost respect for her tenacity and discipline.

i also was pretty frank that our household income used to be incredibly tight. we DID live like this for years. we went without and did without and didn't buy much of anything. i appreciate that we have more discretionary spending at this season in our lives. i hope i haven't come across as flippant or holier than thou. if so, i apologize.

however, my experiment with 30 days of nothing was not to save money or turn over a new leaf or be a more honorable member of society. my motivation was, at first, curiosity to see how often in our CULTURE we are given the opportunity to spend. and it's every single second. which makes me not like our culture very much. it makes those with little or no extras (such as yourself?) resent the fact that they can't buy it all, and it makes those who can afford more feel a disconnet with their dollar and begin to live a life that revolves around purchases. whether it's lip balm or flat screen televisions. our culture pretty much grosses me out right about now.

a happy result of my challenge, so far, is a deep appreciation of what we are blessed with and a committment to not get swallowed up in a world where consumerism is a new religion.

so i completely get what your saying and love your point! thanks for your honesty :)