Spring is the best time of the year for new habits, new routines and in general, making some sense of our lives. Whoever invented new years resolutions was fool, just look at the nature, they all know that. So as March is here, I decided to go on a special kind of diet. I am not religious but it felt fitting to follow a period of lent, which is 40 days leading up to Easter, not with my diet, but with my wallet. Trying to become more conscious spender and consumer, this feels just the right step to do for so many reasons: to save up, to appreciate what I have and to open my eyes to consumerism even more. There are million and one reasons why we shop and one of them is that we actually need something, often it is a compensation for something else, comfort, wanting to belong and so much more.
The whole idea is simple, for 40 days, I will not spend any money on things I don’t need. Yet once you start thinking about it, the line between need and want is often so blurry. I need a new dress, I need one more pair of shoes. I mean, do I really? If I have one, technically, do I need another one? Of course, in a privileged world most of us live in, we do not live only for basic needs, we are often lucky enough to get pretty things and nice experiences from time to time. If you want to read more about my own reasons, you can find that in the end so I don’t bother you with never ending story and cut to the point. Here is how are we going to do it.
6th March to 18th of April
No unnecessary spending for following 40 days. The rules are totally up to you but the general idea is to only spend on items needed for survival(ish). What is allowed to spend on then is food, replacements (you run out of medicine, soap, whatever), gas, bills etc. You know, all the adult stuff. You may also want to make a “list” of things which will be allowed to spend on for one reason or another as well. Maybe someones birthday is coming up, or maybe you will travel etc. Set it as loose or as strict as you wish. Maybe for you it can only mean to not get to-go coffee for 40 days and still it will be a great achievement (and for sure money saver). My own list is bellow.
There are tons of reasons people do this, most obvious being saving money. I read several fantastic stories last week when people managed to live like this for months to save up for a new kitchen without touching a credit card or being able to leave their job and focus on their business. For some it is a way to restart their bad spending habits or just monitor a bit where the money goes to have better overview for the rest of the year. Either way, having the strong why is always a good idea to keep you going when you start struggling or questioning your choices. And let me tell you, we have not even started yet and I am already stressed from the idea, but I cannot wait to see what happens.
Again, many ways. Leave your bank card at home could be an option for once. But I think there are much more things you can do to “decrease the temptation”. If you know that something is too tempting and you will regret it later, try to remove it from your way. It can be unfollow brands on IG for a while (I will at least some), unsubscribe from commercial newsletters etc. What works for me in most instances when I just cannot do something I am almost addicted to is to keep my mind busy on something else. It works with a food restricting (if I am bored, I will snack and binge), So I am planning on creating and keeping my hands busy on other thing then my visa.
It is also about preparation if you for example decide to not buy take-away food or coffee, you need to take lunch with you or probably make a cuppa in the morning to bring to work. It will be different for everyone and it will be inconvenient at times, but think about the reward in the end. Little inconvenience is okay as long as you can live your life, right?
Should I share?
There is no need to share if you don’t want to, don’t worry about it. I will be sharing as I don’t have problem with it and hope that way I can hold your hand as we are on this journey together. If you would like to share, maybe what you did instead of shopping, what you discovered, created, collected instead, there is a special hashtag just for us, to find each other, #nospendlent2019!
Growing up, we didn’t have money, sometimes, we had no money at all not even for much food, other times, we suddenly had and influx of extra income and went on a shopping spree, thinking like there was no tomorrow. This was a big part of my upbringing since I was little and I think it has influenced my shopping behaviour as well, what if there is no tomorrow? What if there is no other dress like that? The scarcity mindset is somewhere deep in me and it is hard to shake off. Often times though, instead of buying that one great thing, I would spend on thousand tiny things, as that is not so visible on my account. But that kind of behaviour doesn’t align with my values anymore and has to go. Hence this challenge!
Without going into too many boring details, I can see two areas of my life where I am spending with zero control. If you are anything like me, you might be making excuses for your shopping and exchange the bad consumerism for not so bad one Never the less, buying excessive amount of stuff, whether it is sourced sustainably and ethically or not, is just not the way. I found myself over last couple of months spending money on things I not only didn’t need, but didn’t really even want anyway, with mostly noble cause: it is second hand so, I am doing good for a planet, it is small maker, I am supporting their business, all the spending justified. And then there is a good old: but I don’t have one of this or that yet. But where is the point in making such an effort in sustainable shopping when buying amounts for several lifetimes?
And then there is a food. Takeaway food, comfort food, all sorts of food which I should not be eating anyway but I do. I am a huge comfort eater and know it is not good for me. I don’t smoke or drink, I eat. But I think there is one thing to enjoy nice cup of coffee and cake with a friend and have a great conversation and make it more of a experience, rather then shoving cinnamon bun down my throat in the bus on the way to work because I am stressed from closing deadline. So the second are I will have really close eye on will be the comfort and impulse food shopping.
In the following 40 days, I will be unexpectedly travelling a lot (great) with work and privately, so I will be shopping and eating out, but I created a set of rules for myself and also an “allowed list”. I was long and wide thinking about what should be on that list, should I put the skirt I am looking for second hand for weeks now because it is long planned purchase? But after a while I decided, that no, I will really just stick with necessities plus a couple of exceptions explained below. It might be an inspiration for you to make your own list, so I am sharing:
- travel expenses (train, bus tickets)
- cosmetics or medicine which runs out, contact lenses
- dentist payments plus care (toothpaste etc.)
- food out while travelling (as I cannot cook)
- one gift for my each of my family members (visiting them in April)
- postage for letters to friends (I promised to send a couple)
That is all I can think of and I will be very honest about it on my Instagram to share my experience, wins and also fails. I am sure it will be super hard as there is so many things I want but then, need none and not sure if they will make my life feel better. On the other hand, paid down credit card will for sure make me sleep better at nigh. These choices seem so obvious on a paper, in reality, not so easy as instant gratification is a strong reward compared to long term wins. I will keep you posted, we can do this!