No Spend January

Illustration by Lore Pemberton.

January is a different kind of month for me and I have come to look forward to it. You see, I do what I call a No Spend Challenge.

It’s a simple concept. Bills are paid and necessities are purchased. So I put gas in the tank and buy groceries but try not to eat out or buy a lot of extra stuff I don’t need.

If the heel breaks on my good work shoes, I dig through my closet for a suitable back up. If I feel like it’s necessary to replace them, then I do so but the rule is I can only buy the shoes I need and not something I just want.

If there’s something I think I want (or need that’s not an emergency), I usually write it down. Often times, by the end of the month, I no longer care about the thing. In other words, there’s not a mad dash to the store to buy all the stuff I missed shopping for in the previous weeks.

This isn’t an outlandish concept. After all, many people live within these boundaries every day by choice or necessity.

I’m reasonably frugal and a smart shopper but have a weakness for buying sale groceries, books, and small items at the cash register like Tic Tacs.

These things add up.

January is a great time to do this as there’s no where to be and it gets dark so early that I’m pleased to stay home where it’s cozy and warm.

Focus is placed on using what I have and taking care of my home. I tend to tidy the kitchen cabinets, clean out the closet and purge a few things. I cook more, making extras for the freezer. Activities like reading, puzzles, movie nights and bubble baths take the place of browsing antique stores and running around. In 2020, I wasn’t out shopping in stores so much but did a fair amount of online shopping and driving around looking at stuff.

This month is a method of realigning habits and priorities while killing the urge to shop. Plus I save money.

Last year, I was so pleased with my no spend month that it ran over into February.

In preparation, I spent some time last week listing all the things I can do to entertain myself for free. Hiking, reading and painting made the top of the list that runs seventy items strong. This particular exercise is an amazing way to remember how much there is to do that’s fun or at least useful and that costs zero dollars.

I was practicing the Norwegian concept of Hygge long before it was cool or even before I knew the term for it. Nothing makes me happier than warm pjs, soft blankets, and delicious aromas emanating from a pot on the stove. I’m so excited to be home more and doing this right now.

January is the perfect time to start or to polish these cozy ways.

The image above is a fun illustration from artist Lore Pemberton. I found her on Instagram this year and immediately was entranced by her vision and artistry. I ordered a couple of small pieces from her for Christmas when she had a sale.

This particular image is a depiction of how I think of my life in January.

Home. Warm. Cozy. Reading.

If you have the time, take a look at her work on her website or follow her on Instagram.

Does a No Spend Month sound like something you would enjoy? Comment! I’ll be happy to chat about it.

13 thoughts on “No Spend January

  1. No Spend Challenge – that’s the term for what I’m planning to be doing this entire year to give my bank account a much needed boost XD
    But to say I’m going to enjoy it? That would be a stretch!

    Hope it brings you joy tho!

    • Haha. I didn’t enjoy the first time and I’m not sure about the entire year but a month or two is kind of fun, especially when you realize how easy it is to entertain yourself for free. At least, that’s been my experience.

      Something else I didn’t really talk about here is that there’s nothing wrong with experiencing a need or unfulfilled want. We live in a society of immediate gratification, so much that I think we forget what it’s like to not have everything we want within grasp.

      If you enjoy podcasts, check out Two Frugal Friends. They’ve covered this topic and other good ones.

      This article is a couple of years old but you may find some inspiration from the article or the blogger. He’s a good one. https://clark.com/personal-finance-credit/advice-woman-spent-year-without-spending-money/

      Good luck and try to have fun with it!! Let’s prove that happiness isn’t about spending money! ❤️

  2. I couldn’t do no-spend January, as January is when all the winter clearance sales happen, and so is typically when I refresh my winter wardrobe! I just dropped $100 at kohls.com yesterday.

    But I like the idea of a no-spend period, a month or two. Maybe that’d be February for me.

    I haven’t been able to do it in a few years but I used to consider Jan-Mar as “hibernation” time — no major house projects, no new obligations. Just hang out at home in the evenings and relax. I used to binge-watch TV series that way. It’s how I watched Breaking Bad and Mad Men. Before streaming I used to buy myself a DVD set of some show I liked and watch that. I’m not much of a TV watcher otherwise.

    • Lol. Guys are so lucky. By January, women’s clothes are so picked over there’s not much left most years. I did some shopping last week and picked up a few things but wasn’t happy when I got them home. Fitting rooms are closed here and women’s sizing is so inconsistent that I have returned more than half of what I bought this year. Sigh.

      The first quarter is my busy time at work so there’s not much energy left for anything but hibernation. Honestly, isn’t it wonderful to just stay in on a cold night and indulge in your tv show or whatever you enjoy? I loved Mad Men. Perhaps I’ll revisit that show this month!

      Oh, and February is the most popular no spend month. It’s the shortest month and there’s not much going on besides Valentine’s Day. Give it a whirl and check out how much money you have saved at the end. Even people who think they’re frugal learn something about themselves and save some. Years ago, I realized how much money I wasted on drinks at the checkout! Now I carry a water bottle, making a permanent change that has helped my wallet and the environment.

  3. Enjoy your cozy January! I like all the things in your illustration, except no windows!

    I pretty live that sort of no-spend existence – I’ve never been much of a shopper. And I rarely eat out anyway. One trip to town each week for groceries, that’s it.

    My vow this month is no alcohol. And finding something better to do on my work breaks than solitaire (what a time waster!)

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