Welcome to the fifth day of the 2020 Love Blog Challenge! Today’s prompt is Money. Check out the announcement post for all the prompts and rules this month. You can still join the link-up for yesterday’s topic, Growth.
Have you ever heard of a No-Buy Challenge? Sometimes it goes by other names, like Spending Freeze and No Spend.
Basically, it’s a challenge to buy only essential items for a specific amount of time. You might do this for just a month, or for one week of every month. Some ambitious folks attempt a No-Buy Challenge for an entire year.
Last year, Dan and I did our own variation of a No-Buy Challenge. We set up “low-spend” guidelines for the month of January. Following those guidelines helped us both shift our attitude towards spending, although we did eventually slip back into a few bad habits. (Me: clothes Dan: gadgets).
This year, I plan to follow low-spend guidelines for the entire year. These are pretty specific about what I can and cannot buy. More on that in a minute. First, let’s discuss the benefits of a full-fledged No-Buy Challenge.
Is a No-Buy Challenge right for you?
3 Reasons to Try a No-Buy Challenge
A No-Buy Challenge isn’t right for everyone. For example, Dan and I aren’t interested in buying only necessities for a month, and we’re fortunate that we can easily afford to enjoy non-essential items. A No-Buy Challenge might not fit your lifestyle if you’re working long hours, or dealing with health problems.
However, a No-Buy Challenge can be a great opportunity to save money, live more intentionally, and prevent clutter in the home.
Saving money is the most obvious benefit of a No-Buy Challenge. When you only spend money on essential items, any leftover money can be put towards building up your savings or paying off debt!
Small luxuries can really add up. Starbucks once a week. Fast food for lunch every day. Seasonal decor from Target’s Dollar Section. That cute new dress on clearance. Suddenly a week has passed, and you’ve spent $100 on non-essential items! Just imagine what you could do with an extra $400 every month.
In yesterday’s post, I gave tips to grow as a feminist this year. My second suggestion?
Spend your money thoughtfully.
A No-Buy Challenge makes you stop and really think about how you’re spending your money. After all, before you start, you need to sit down and make a list of all necessities. Some are obvious (rent, car payment, etc.), but others are less clear. You need to buy food, of course, but at what point does convenient food cross the line from a necessity to a luxury? That’s a decision only you (and your partner, if you have one) can make, but no matter the decision, you’re thinking carefully about how you spend your money.
While Dan and I aren’t doing a No-Buy Challenge ourselves, we have recently looked over our budget multiple times. Like, we’ve literally sat down at least three times in the last six weeks to go over our spending in Mint and our proposed budget for this year. We’ve had the financial luxury of following a loose budget in the past, but right now we have some large savings goals. To enjoy the expensive things we both really want, we need to be more thoughtful about the little things. This has inspired my own low-spend guidelines for the year.
I have always loved the idea of decorating for every season and every holiday. But in reality, I don’t want to deal with that much seasonal home decor. I already struggle with anxiety over home organization. My current mental health can’t handle storing out-of-season decorations and swapping out decor more than a few times per year. So Dan and I have a modest amount of Christmas decorations, a plain wreath for the front door for most of the year, and a few small seasonal decorations that all fit in a single storage cube.
Clutter can accumulate quickly. I love home decor, but I limit myself to fun things only if I know where I’ll put them.
When doing a No-Buy Challenge, you can avoid clutter. No more impulse buys. You can focus on the beautiful things you already own instead of getting distracted by all the enticing objects in stores.
Why I’m Doing a Low-Spend Challenge
A No-Buy Challenge isn’t right for me for a few reasons.
Like I mentioned above, Dan and I can afford to spend money on fun things. We both want to be more intentional about those fun purchases this year, but we still want the flexibility for date nights, and concert tickets, and wine tastings, and other fun things.
I also don’t want to set myself up to fail. A No-Buy Challenge is strict. A Low-Spend Challenge is flexible. I can stick with the latter, but I’m not sure I could manage the former, at least not for more than a few weeks.
My goal for this year is to buy less overall, and to buy secondhand when possible. I want to enjoy the things I already own instead of chasing after new things I don’t need.
My Low-Spend Guidelines
I’ve been thinking about these for a few months. I’m not writing out every single rule or exception, but these are the general low-spend guidelines I want to follow this year.
- Clothing: Almost no new clothes this year. I can buy new tops if they support my creative friends. I can buy new basics as needed (socks, underwear, etc.). If I really feel like I need a new outfit for some reason, I must shop secondhand. I also want to find someone to hem and mend a few of my things this year. If Dan and I manage to go our big vacation this year, I can buy something special on vacation.
- Beauty: Replacement-only buys for the entire year. No new makeup at all. I do have a subscription to the Allure Beauty Box. That was my Christmas present for myself. Otherwise, I can only buy new skincare or haircare products when I use up my stash. For example, I’m almost out of my favorite face cleanser, but I have three others that all work fine and don’t irritate my skin. So I can’t buy my favorite again until I work through those. I can stock up on a favorite basic if it’s a good deal, AND if I’m running low on it. For example, I recently just bought three of my favorite deodorant because it was on sale.
- Candles: Dan and I both love candles and wax melts. I recently purchased three new candles from Grove Collaborative at a steep discount. We also bought wax melts from Kroger at a steep discount. Now that our supplies are replenished, we can’t buy anymore candles or wax melts until we use up most of what we already have.
- Home decor: For the most part, I can’t buy any new home decor this year. I can buy frames for art I already own. Also, I have a goal of organizing my bookcase, and whenever I’m done with that, I can buy one new set of bookends. I also want to get new curtains for my home office.
How My Low-Spend Challenge Will Benefit My Marriage
Even when I was still working a somewhat normal full-time job, Dan was the breadwinner. This is even more true now that I do part-time creative work that doesn’t pay well. Even so, Dan has never used this disparity in income to control me or to guilt me about my spending. We’ve always worked on our budget together. Both of us have always had our own “fun money” each month. Dan even supported my occasional use of retail therapy during a time when my Crohn’s and my depression were both really bad, and traditional therapy wasn’t helping.
In addition to my personal motivations for my Low-Spend Challenge, I also see thoughtful spending as a way to contribute financially to our household. I might not earn a substantial amount of money, but I can have a positive influence on our household budget by cutting back on unnecessary expenses.
This is also an opportunity for Dan and me to work on some big long-term financial goals. Buying our house three years ago was the first of our big purchases. We’re now looking to buy a new car within the next 18 months. We also want to take our dream trip to Europe, ideally this year, but possibly next year.
That’s a lot in a short period of time. We already do lots of frugal things like buy generic brands, use coupons, and shop sales. But for us to obtain the two big luxuries we really want in the next 18 months, we still need to cut back our spending. I will get so much more out of a romantic European vacation than another half-dozen dresses and eye shadow palettes.
Meet Your 2020 Love Blog Challenge Hosts!
Brita Long is the pink and sparkly personality behind the Christian feminist lifestyle blog, Belle Brita. On her blog and social media, you’ll discover more than authentic storytelling–she’s brutally honest about pursuing a fulfilling and joyful life even with Crohn’s Disease and depression.
Laura is a part-time artist hoping to go full time some day. She has a little black bucket list book filled with adventures. She writes with the hope to inspire. She’s known to be quite the workaholic sometimes. She’s an INTJ-A, and she believes a cup of hot tea can solve almost anything. Laura embraces perseverance. She’s spent a lot of time emerged in self-discovery practices over the last several years, and finds she is still learning as she goes. She is here in the blogging world because she believes the buzz about self-care, wellness, and self-love needs to be heard. You can also find her writing over at www.blogfivebiz.com chatting about blogging and business stuff.
Charlene is a 30 year old wife and fur-mama living in Portland, Oregon. She’s a follower of Christ, watcher of SciFi, reader of fantasy, singer of show tunes, and lover of her husband! She uses her blog, Enduring All Things to help couples build a marriage that will endure whatever comes their way.
Have you ever tried a No Buy Challenge or a Low Spend Challenge?