January No Spend Challenge — Final Check-In and Recap

March 13, 2019

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Image by kinkate from Pixabay 

Back in January I embarked on a no spend challenge. For the entire month of January, I tried to only shop for the essentials and nothing else. Except for one mishap early in the challenge (the first week, ack!), I’ve been able to stick to the challenge rules all the way until now. That’s 5 1/2 weeks longer than I originally planned to do the challenge!

I’d say that this challenge was a complete success.

I enjoy participating in wardrobe and spending challenges for multiple reasons.

Wardrobe challenges have you focusing on using what you have, which gives you time to figure out what the source is for your wardrobe frustration. Forcing myself to take a long hard look at what I own and how I’m wearing (or not wearing) my clothes, usually has me walking away from a wardrobe challenge with a new favorite outfit combination or two. And I’m able to create a focused shopping list that has my true wardrobe holes.

No spend challenges are a bit like a wardrobe challenge, on steroids. These challenges allows you to zero in on your spending habits, not just your clothes. You are forced to take a long hard look at your behavior, this time with what you are doing with your money, instead of your clothes. It becomes easy to pinpoint how often you spend money on non-essential items, when you want to spend, and you can’t because of the challenge rules. It allows you to consider what is really important for you to spend your money on.

Out of the 5 areas that I would normally spend, but didn’t because of the no spend challenge, I’ve discovered that some areas are not as important as I originally thought, and I don’t plan to spend much money on them in the future. Other areas, I really missed and plan to continue to spend on in the future.

Here are the five areas and my plans moving forward:

  1. No eating out, drinks, or coffee. This one is something I’ll half do in the future. If it’s just for me, I can go without spending my money on eating or drinking out. Packing my own lunches and bringing my tea from home, didn’t bother me at all. In fact, I preferred it because then I could control what I’m eating and drinking. However, I did miss the social aspect. Eating and drinking out with friends is something I do on occasion and I didn’t enjoy giving that up. It’s a main way to socialize with others. I also missed eating snack food at sports events and grabbing a cup of hot chocolate on a cold day. Moving forward, I’ll stick to bringing my own food and drinks when it’s just me, but if I want to spend time with a friend and they want to go out to eat, I’m going to do it.
  2. No buying clothes, make-up, or accessories. I’ve done enough wardrobe challenges over the years to not even notice anymore if I take some time off from shopping for clothes (this is huge, because I struggled with a shopping addiction for years!). Accessories were also pretty easy, I don’t mind sporting a favorite necklace, ring, etc, on a daily basis and didn’t notice that I wasn’t adding anything new to my collection. However, I realized that I really, really like wearing make-up. It’s the armor I put on to face the world, and quite frankly after doing so for so long, putting on a face of make-up is just a habit. I feel naked without my face. But, make-up trends change quickly and so do the products to use for them. However, using up the products, does not. I cleaned out my make-up stash and started using only the products that I enjoy wearing. I stopped following the trends and I haven’t even noticed that I’m not sporting the current “in” face. It’s actually really nice to open my make-up drawers and see only my favorite products. It also makes my daily routine super easy, because I’ve done that look the day before. Plus, it’s nice to go to the make-up counter and have to buy because the container was completely empty, not because there is something new. I’m not going to stop wearing make-up, or always stick with the same face, but I am going to take a little longer before I switch up my look, so that I can really enjoy what I have instead of trying to be a make-up chameleon.
  3. No hair or nail services. Hair services is what almost stopped me from doing this challenge before it really got started. Last year I had taken a break from the constant battle of fighting my grey hairs and I’ve never been happier. I got a lot of “chatter” from co-workers about growing out my grey, but I’m glad that I did. My hair is healthier, and more personalized now. After all, no one else has the greying pattern that I do, each person’s greys grow in differently. And I really enjoy not having to run to the salon all of the time, I always felt like I was wearing a ball and chain. The same could be said for nail services. My natural nails are shiny, white, and healthy all on their own. A little filing and buffing and I’m good to go. I’ll still get my haircut on occasion, and I’m working with my hair stylist to make the transition to grey easier (blending in the greys so the line of demarcation is more subtle), but I don’t plan to go back to all of the dying, highlighting, and regular maintenance I’ve done in the past. And as for the nail salon, I’ll go, when it’s for a special occasion, but that’s about it.
  4. No money spent on craft projects or entertainment. I’m not a crafty person, so I didn’t notice that I didn’t spend on crafts, but not spending on entertainment, that I did notice. If a new movie came out, now I had to wait for it to come out of the theaters. If I saw hockey tickets for sale at a fair price, I had to look the other way. If I saw a convention or fair I wanted to attend, I couldn’t. When I saw a new exhibit was coming to a museum, I had to miss it. Living close to NYC there are a lot of opportunities to get out and do something. I found myself saying no on a weekly basis. But, this made me realize how often things to do can pop up and that makes it very easy to overspend in this area. It’s something I’m going to keep a close eye on in the future. I think a little bit of entertainment is ok, but it has to be monitored, because it’s easy to spend a lot of money, without even noticing it.
  5. No buying items on sale or stockpiling. Sales and stockpiling has always had a double edged sword to me. I appreciate the potential cost savings, but I don’t find it easy to judge just how much one should actually stockpile. It’s very easy to overbuy and end up with items that take you years to use up. I had very few things that I’ve stocked up on in the past, that I used up in the 2 1/2 months I did the no spend challenge. I’ll keep an eye out for sales, but I need to make sure that I limit the amount that I buy, because how fast I think I’ll use something up, is not how fast I really do. It always takes longer than I anticipated.

And that sums up what I learned from the January No Spend Challenge. If you’re interested in doing a no spend challenge, check-out the previous posts below for a little inspiration. I may have started mine in January, but a no spend challenge can be done at any time of year.

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