No Spend Month

September for a Children’s Minister is exhilarating and exhausting. At least it is when you’ve decided to start a new curriculum and you have to prep three classrooms-worth of materials every week. It’s been a blast so far, honestly, and I’ve appreciated so much the volunteers that have committed to teach, but these last few days have been the first time I’ve really stopped probably in two months, and that’s because I am very. very. sick.

A woman named Ruth (check out her downloadable PDFs!) has created something called, “31 Days of Living Well & Spending Less,” which I’ve signed up for in an attempt to create some space to think about my finances – right in the midst of the flurry of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and prep for Christmas. Ruth’s blog provides worksheets and a helpful sense of community and daily emails to keep you busy.

I need this. I’ve let my spending go unchecked for a good month and a half now (foregoing recording expenses because “I’m too busy” or “have better things to do”). I know I need to rework my budget. We’re one day in, and already I feel like I have some room to breath. It’s easier to halt the distracting call of consumerism when spending money isn’t even an option. Cataloging “possible” purchases on Pinterest or Etsy; the quest for the perfect purse, or justifying an iPhone 6, or new wardrobe pieces just aren’t on the table right now – I don’t have to worry about it (and I didn’t know I was worrying about it until I stopped).

If you’re anything like me, big things require some time to work up to. I came across the challenge at the end of August and told my husband about it. Emails from Ruth have helped me mentally prepare, and avoid the temptation to stock up. My hubs and I agreed ahead of time we’d buy some sweet potatoes or something to bring to Thanksgiving, but other than that, we’re committed – together – to not spending on non-essentials.

Here are the exceptions we agreed to:

  • obviously, we will pay bills and continue our charitable giving
  • OK to buy: toilet paper, milk, cheese, and fresh fruit
  • gas
  • paint for our living room (a project that’s been in the works for probably the last year)
  • we’re going to see the Martian when it comes out, as we’ve been planning that for months

There is no “good month” for this to take place, and since it’s October, we don’t currently have any plans to buy candy or celebrate Halloween with anything other than decorations we already own. I am looking forward to the challenge of using creativity and resourcefulness to accomplish things without spending money. I’m even cancelling Netflix (gasp) but it’s not that big a deal since I signed up for the free month of Shomi. 😛

I’d invite you to join me for the accountability, but I’d rather just say that I’m trying this and will keep you updated on anything interesting that develops. If it sounds appealing, let me know. It’s like a little bit of lent in October 🙂

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