Today is the last day of January, which just so happens to be my birthday. I started this blog before it was even legal for me to drink, and now I’m reaching thirty. Where does the time go? The cool thing about writing a blog for so long is that you get to evolve into a different person throughout the years in front of the entire world. Well, sometimes it isn’t cool. As I get older and get a better understanding of who I am, things that used to be important to me, feel a little less important. When I was younger, materialistic things made me feel like I was worthy. We are molded in high school to believe that having the best clothes make people like us more, and it’s something most teenagers go through. Actually, a lot of adults go through the same thing. I used to think that if people saw my name brands, they wouldn’t see the real me. I don’t know why I thought the real me was so bad, but I don’t understand a lot of things my younger self used to do. Sometimes we dread age, but it comes with wisdom, and we grow to love ourselves on the inside and find deeper meanings to life.
I’ve officially completed 31 days of the “no spend” challenge, and I don’t plan on stopping. My only regret is not doing this sooner (college kids, listen up!)
Even if you have all the money in the world, or you’re living paycheck to paycheck, we all should still be a little more cautious with how we spend our money. You don’t have to be a minimalist in order to declutter and I think anyone and everyone should do it. It’ll make you realize how much stuff you’ve accumulated and maybe inspire you to cut back a bit. If you follow Jennifer Garner on Instagram (LOVE HER) you may have seen where she just posted a video of her going through junk drawers and getting rid of “stuff.” She may not be financially stressed, but I’m sure having less unwanted junk in the house brought her a sense of peace. I’m by no means a minimalist, and will most likely never be one, but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn from the minimal lifestyle and try to be better when it comes to owning stuff with no value to my life.
I have a long way to go, but I’m so excited about the future. I try to do something every day that contributes to organizing or messes. It’s important to tackle things before they accumulate. Remember, it doesn’t happen overnight!
Here are some things that I’ve learned so far!
Social media will influence you.
When I hear the word “influencer,” I think of a blogger, an Instagrammer, Youtuber, or celebrity. I looked past the meaning of the word “influencer” when it was used to describe an online personality. Like many, I don’t like the label “influencer” because that’s not my goal as a blogger. My goal is to share my life happenings and bring joy to others, not solely influence. But, whether I like it or not, anyone sharing their life on the internet is in some way, an influencer, even if you have ten followers, you’re still capable of influencing. I never realized how powerful the ability to influence was, especially when you’re on the other side of it. When I was two weeks into my no spend challenge, I started to notice myself “watching and wanting.” If I was watching a YouTube video, I paid attention to their skin products, then going to Amazon to look at the prices. I’d see cute dining chairs, and find myself looking at them in a separate tab. I didn’t need any of these items, yet I was exploring the possibility of purchasing them. The only way to break this cycle is to stay strict and tell yourself “no”, or practice the 24-hour rule, which I’ll explain later in the post. Before you start browsing social media, get in the mindset that what you own now, is enough. Not having something won’t make any less cool.
P.S. I do secretly hope this post influences you.
Don’t store your credit card info in your computer
One of my favorite things about using Amazon is that I can find an item and check out super fast. It takes about four clicks with zero typing to buy something. The simplicity is genius on Amazon’s part, and I don’t hate it. Since I’m not buying “things,” there is no reason to make it this easy for myself. There have been many instances where I left items in my online shopping cart because I didn’t feel like getting up to find my credit card and type in the numbers. If this can help prevent you from buying something you don’t need, why not? Don’t make it easy on yourself, stop storing your cards, and think through these purchases.
You will get more stuff done around the house.
I used to go to the store at least once a day, and sometimes more. If I couldn’t get into the rhythm of work, I’d try to distract myself with a shopping trip or browse the stores just to get out of the house. Because I stopped shopping, I have found myself working on projects around the house that have been put off for so long. Instead of going out to buy things, I take the time to declutter, deep clean, keep up with laundry, and everything else that needs doing around the house. I’ve found myself being more productive with my time.
Decluttering will make you realize how many things you have that you don’t need.
I couldn’t believe the number of things that I owned that I had never used, or forgot I had. Some of the boxes in my office had business cards from trips six years ago, makeup products that were way past their expiration date, and random cords that looked a bit ancient. By decluttering and going through all of the junk, it made me not want to shop ever again. I wanted to get rid of all the stuff and never invite more into my house. Whenever I think about making a purchase, I think back to the time I organized the office and found so many unnecessary things. Now, I just have to ask myself “will this end up in a drawer never to be seen again?”
Experiences are so much better.
When you stop buying “stuff,” you’ll have a bigger budget for new experiences. It’s easy to go to a mall and spend a few hundred on clothes when that money could have gone towards a plane ticket to somewhere new. Why not put your money towards seeing new things that’ll create memories for a lifetime? Don’t put your money towards something that’ll be worn once and never to be talked about again. Trips won’t take up space on your shelves, but they’ll fill your life in some way. Trying new things and putting yourself out there will help you grow and give you more fulfillment. If you feel like you’re in a slump and need to change things up, don’t turn to shopping. Book a trip, or go out to dinner with friends. Bond over good food, coffee, a glass of wine, or something else that’ll bring you joy! Dive into experiences like skiing, rock climbing, bike riding, painting, or something crazy!
Just remember, when you’re on these trips, you’re going to feel the urge to get some kind of souvenir! DON’T DO IT 😂 All of the travel mugs I’ve bought over the years have ended up at Goodwill. Just bring your camera and take lots of photos!
Wanting is not the same as needing.
I used to find myself always saying “I need this” or “or I need that” when it came to materialistic things. No, I did not need any of those things; I wanted them. It’s important to identify the difference when making a purchase. Right now, I don’t need anything. There is a heck of a lot of things that I want, but by identifying the difference, I won’t be making any purchases. Wanting things is how we end up with so much junk that tends to pile up or cause stress by ending up on the closet floor. If you can put food on the table, get cleared for good health, dress in warm clothes, sleep in a bed at night, then I promise you, you probably don’t need anything else. It’s not a sin to want something, but not acting on the wants is pretty powerful.
Looking at your bank account won’t give you anxiety.
Whether you have hundreds of thousands of dollars, or a hundred bucks in your bank account, looking at the damages after a shopping spree can lead to anxiety. I think seeing any number drop can bring a sense of guilt. I used to hate looking at my bank account because it reminded me of how compulsive of a shopper I was. I used to get so mad at myself when I’d hit a financial goal and then feel the urge to treat myself to a shopping spree. Now, I’m more proud about hitting those financial goals and setting more instead of going out and spending what I earned. Instead of shopping after hitting a financial goal, I invest. Investing may not be as fun as shopping, but it’s going to pay off in the long run. The new shoes, random coffee mugs, and unnecessary sweaters can give you a quick sense of joy in the beginning, but that’ll fade. Don’t throw away your money at the mall. Invest and let your money work for you.
Less Stuff, Less Dust.
Listen to this! According to this article, dust is the biggest predator in our home. The average household collects 40 pounds of dust a year. How is that even possible? Be right back while I go dust everything. Want to know the worst part? Inside dust, microscopic bugs that multiply fast are living in it! Dust mites are real. If that is not enough motivation to start tossing meaningless things in the house, I don’t know what is. If you have fewer items in your home collecting dust, it’ll be easier to protect yourself from all the problems lurking inside dust. That article also said that “45 toxic chemicals linked to respiratory, behavioral and neuro-development problems “have been found living in dust. AHHH!
You Will Feel More Creative & Resourceful.
When you’re not running all over the place trying to shop for things, you’ll find yourself more focussed and centered on being creative and working with what you already have. Even when it comes to cooking, I’m not always running to the grocery store, but instead creating recipes with what I already have in the house. We have so many resources available to us, and our creativity fades when we don’t have to use it. Not buying new clothes forces us to be more creative in how we style an outfit to make it look different, or how we use the things we already have in the house to replace the things we wish to buy. You will learn to work with what you have. One of my favorite senseless purchases were napkins for food photography. I love changing it up and adding colored details to my photos, and instead of buying new napkins, I used some floral blouses and no one noticed at all. Just yesterday, I wanted to buy flowers for my kitchen table, and instead of making the purchase, I cut several camellias from the bush on the side of my house. It’s crazy that camellias (they kind of look like roses) will bloom in the dead of winter! Not only did this save me money, but it forced me to work with the resources I had in front of me the whole time.
Even when you start to organize your things, you’ll find yourself wanting certain containers or bins to store stuff in. Because you can’t spend, not even on those things, you’ll have to look around to find ways to organize without making purchases.
The 24-hour rule works.
The 24-hour rule has magic to it. If you struggle with compulsive shopping, I promise this tip is going to save you! Before you allow yourself to purchase anything, give yourself 24-hours to think it through. Most of the time, I’ll forget about the item I was going to order entirely. If I could forget about something that quickly, did I need it? Stores are aware of the 24-hour rule, and that’s why they try to get you to act fast with purchases. Ever notice the little popup that says “five people have this item in their shopping cart?” If you put something in an online shopping cart, wait for 24-hours before you hit “submit order.” Almost everytime I do this; I decide to not follow through the next day. Ever heard of the saying “sleep on it.” Well, I’m a big believer in that! A couple of weeks ago when I was browsing dining room chairs after watching a video on YouTube, I woke up the next morning so happy that I didn’t make that purchase. The 24-hour rule also helps you realize the difference between needing and wanting.
You won’t spend as much gas money.
Because I work from home, I didn’t think this one was going to be a big deal. I was wrong about that! Before January, I’d fill my tank up at least once a week. Not a day went by where I didn’t leave my house for something. It’s January 31st, and I’ve only had to fill my tank up twice. Maybe it’s the cold weather that’s helping me stay home more, but I’m pretty impressed with my lack of driving. If all of us thought twice before driving somewhere for “no good reason” we’d probably have cleaner air and fatter wallets 😉
You’ll have more time to be active.
Being active is super inexpensive and an excellent way to pass the time instead of spending money. I’ve been going to the gym five days a week to walk the treadmill while Kyle lifts weights, walking the dogs multiple times a day, and taking more time to stretch when I’m feeling stressed. And when you have fewer things to clean around the house, you’ll have more time to spend outside being active. I’ve found so much comfort in walking my dogs when I need an outlet, or just doing something with them, even if it’s just taking them to the dog park to play frisbee. These are free ways to bring excitement and joy to your life.
One of my all-time favorite activities is tennis. It’s been way too cold to play here lately, but I know it’ll be the only thing I want to do when it warms up! If you can, try to find a public court and go hit a few balls with a friend.
I do want to add that, not only do I have time to be more active, but I have more time to give back and get involved with the community. I’ve been spending some time this week trying to find an organization/charity that means a lot to me and devoting my time to them. It’s easy for me to write a check, but that’s not as fulfilling as donating my time. I want to be more involved this year, and being more proactive about it is a goal of mine.
The urge to shop will go away.
I promise the first two weeks will be hard, especially if shopping is your therapy or outlet. Once you stop, you’ll realize how unnecessary it all was, and shopping will be the last thing you want to do. I started to feel regret when I looked back on all the years of useless shopping. Those urges will go away, especially when you replace them with more fulfilling things. If your friends invite you to go out and shop, you should still go if you want to! Leave your cards at home, bring some cash to buy a coffee, and tag along for the support. And hey, you may even inspire them along the way. Putting yourself in that position is important, and I guarantee, you’ll be proud of your new mindset when it comes to shopping. You will start to look at retail in a whole new light, and walking out of the shopping mall without a bag will bring you joy. When you’re not shopping, the last place you might want to go is a shopping mall, but putting yourself in that position can make you stronger, especially if you walk out of their empty handed (but don’t set yourself up for failure, leave the cards at home.)
It feels good to donate things.
It feels so good to have less stuff around the house. I’m not constantly tripping over shoes or wondering where things are. Something that feels even better than that is being able to donate my things to a shelter. I’ve received so many requests from people asking me to sell my clothes on Poshmark. There is nothing wrong with that and a great way to pull in some extra money to pay off bills, but it feels even better to be able to donate those things to women who need them more than I do. Knowing where these items go, helps me get rid of things without a second thought. I have it so good, and if I can bring joy to someone else’s life, even if it’s by donating, then that makes me happy. I’ve never regretted getting rid of anything, especially knowing that it’s getting put to good use.
*Sidenote* Make sure you don’t toss out everything in your closet! Be cautious. You don’t want to find yourself in a place where you have to go shopping because you threw something out “you thought you didn’t need.” That defeats the whole purpose. It’s also ok to have bright and fun colored clothes! There’s a misconception that taking the minimal approach means you need to toss anything that doesn’t match the earth. You don’t need to create a capsule wardrobe, and things don’t always have to match. Just get rid of things you absolutely won’t wear. Half of my wardrobe is still pink or floral, and I’m proud of it. Minimizing doesn’t mean reducing colors 😊
You’re going to feel very proud of yourself
I have felt proud every single day this month. I’ve been proud of the changes I’ve made mentally and financially. When I first started the “no spend” challenge, I thought I’d fail in the first week. Breaking any habit is hard, but it’s possible with time. When you overcome weak points, you’ll feel so proud! I’ve never felt more satisfied with myself after sticking to a grocery list, or walking out of a store with nothing in my hand! I went into Hobby Lobby yesterday to buy glue sticks and walking past the home decor felt like a stab in the stomach, but 24-hours later, I’m feeling pretty good about not cracking. I love to reward myself when I feel proud by doing a facial and taking a warm bubble bath with tea!
You’ll be able to find things easier.
I’ve never gone this long without having clothes on my closet floor. I think having less stuff was the solution. Once you spend time going through closets, drawers, cabinets, and every spot in the house, you’ll know where things are. You won’t find yourself constantly looking for things! I still have many rooms and closets to tackle, but finding things haven’t been an issue lately. Just last month, I felt like I was constantly looking for the mail key or the dog leashes. Now, they’re always on the hook where they should be. When you’re decluttering, you’ll start to throw away old pens, useless paperwork, and other clutter that hides what we truly use.
The buddy system helps a ton.
Last year, my friend Meighan, did the no spend challenge. She crushed it! Watching her make all of the changes and set out on new experiences inspired me to make changes to my life this year. She’s continuing to do it, and has given me fantastic advice! My friend, Caitlin, is also doing the “no spend” with me! It’s great because we can both focus on doing things together that bring more experiences to our life. We both enjoy trying new food, taking classes and traveling, so this will be a fun year! My friend, Becca, has always been so creative and resourceful when it comes to shopping, and it inspires me to do the same! We’ve both traded in our shopping Saturdays for coffee dates instead, plus we’ve been working hard on launching the new Podcast. What I’m trying to get at is that having friends that are on board with the “no spend challenge” makes it easier! And if your friends are not on board, that’s fine, too! Use it as a way to grow stronger.
Sometimes it stinks.
I’ve been naming all the good things about the no spend challenge but let’s not sugarcoat it too much. Sometimes it does stink. Sometimes, I want to go out and buy a ton of fluffy blankets, throw pillows, a new car, and other random stuff, but I won’t. Just like the quick high of buying shoes, the sucky part is also short-lived. When you feel like you want to shop, or missing out on something, dive into a project! Watch a good film on Netflix, do a puzzle, clean out a room, and distract yourself from the thoughts. Sometimes cleaning a room can change the entire aesthetic, and you won’t need those fluffy blankets anymore.
Gifting experiences are better than materialistic gifts.
My friend, Meighan, took me to a wood workshop for my birthday last year. She treated me to the most fun experience, and that was better than any materialistic birthday gift I could have gotten. This has inspired me to start gifting others with experiences as well. I loved the class so much and found myself going back again and again. These are the types of gifts that don’t take up space, but bring so much joy and excitement to your life!
You will continue to search for ways to be better.
Once you stop spending and the house is organized. You’ll start looking for ways to be better on a whole new level. It may be cleaning up your diet, making better lifestyle choices, switching to environmental-friendly products, devoting your time to charity, choosing more meaningful things to read, to journal more, learning to say “no”, finding your way back to church, shopping for food at local farms, and the list could go on. I’ve never been more inspired to keep improving the way I live my life.
You don’t have to cut out everything.
If something that costs money brings you joy and contributes to your self-care, you don’t have to give it up. Things like getting my hair done won’t bring extra “stuff” into the house. My monthly massages benefit my health without bringing things into my house as well, and those are the things that I look forward to. If you spend your money on a couple of things that bring you better health, that’s fine. The cool thing is that you can make up your own rules. You may look forward to getting your nails done each month; well don’t stop that. That is something that brings you joy! You get to pick and choose your splurges. A lot of people don’t believe in paying for cable or other memberships while doing the “no spend” but let’s face it. It’s things like the cable that keeps me from going out and spending on some days.
When it comes to restaurants, I don’t dine out more than once a week (if that.) So it’s never been a big spending factor for me. I see it as a way to enjoy new cuisine and have good conversations with friends. Going to restaurants or stopping at Starbucks “just because” when I’m out on the go or don’t feel like cooking is off limits to me. Those are the rules I’ve set for myself! I’ve also cut out the hot bar at Whole Foods when I can make food at home!
Decluttering is a fun hobby.
Some of you are probably rolling your eyes at this one, but I have found so much joy in decluttering. I love transforming a cluttered space into a tidy and organized one. The satisfaction of a good declutter session is a great craving to have! This has been one of my favorite outlets lately. If you want to get in an excellent decluttering mindset, dive into YouTube videos or the Tidying up with Marie Kondo on Netflix. You’ll be hopping up to clean in no time!
I would say this is one of the most important parts about the no spend challenge. My stress and anxiety levels have gone down tremendously! I used to stress about traveling because I wanted to shop for new outfits or things to bring on my trip. Managing my time with all of that just stressed me out! Now, the trips are so easy. I pack my bags without any shopping, and I’m done within an hour. All of the running around used to interfere with my work and I’d wait until the last minute to get things done. Having fewer things will bring less stress, and I promise you that! When you have less stuff to be responsible for, you’ll have more time to relax.
💜 photos in this post were provided by adobe stock!
I’ve been excited about this blog for a long time! I hope this inspires you to make changes, and I’m also looking for inspiration! Please send me your tips and tricks and let me know the changes you’ve been making financially and around your house to keep the clutter and messes from accumulating! Hopefully, you’ll be able to get inspired by others in the comments, or encourage someone from your story! xo
Questions for you!
- What changes have you made financially?
- What is one thing you’d like to work on?
- What is one thing you like to treat yourself to?