Not Buying Whatever They’re Selling

Twelve days into my No Spend Challenge and it feels like everywhere I look someone is trying to sell me something.

Advertising is designed to make us feel insecure, to make us feel like what we have isn’t good enough. You’ll look better in these jeans. You’ll be happier if you drink this beverage. You’ll be wealthier if you invest with us. Your house will be prettier if you buy hundreds of dollars of crap at our store. Better yet, buy a whole new house and fill the entire thing with the widgets we sell!

Even the otherwise inspiring podcasters I enjoy are trying to sell their books and consultations.

Satisfaction is a threat to sales people everywhere.

I’ve all but stopped reading women’s magazines, hardly ever catch a tv commercial, am actively unsubscribing from marketing emails, and blissfully scroll past all the targeted ads meant to sell me what I don’t need.

The world claims that my most important value is as a consumer but I’m choosing to go a different route.

This annual No Spend Challenge is a meaningful reminder that my life is good already. I have a nice home, plenty of healthy food to eat and tons of ways to entertain myself that don’t include shopping or buying things.

And by saving my money now, I’ll have funds for adventures this summer! That is worth way more to me than anything the world is selling right now!

No Spend Challenge complete

My No Spend Challenge ended Friday. I wouldn’t call the process a complete disaster but it certainly didn’t go as planned.Things were proceeding swimmingly until my fridge died and I lost a lot of food. Going in debt for an appliance, replacing rotten food and eating some lunches out for a few days distracted me from my goals.

It also added to my debt.

But it’s ok. It will be ok. Better luck next time, right? I mean, this was hardly my fault…. the Universe simply decided that it was time to euthanize my appliance.

Anywhooo,  in addition to buying the fridge, I spent about $16 on fast food dollar menu items due to travel and a general unpreparedness to live without most cold food.

I came off the challenge Friday and spent Saturday in Cincinnati with my fella. He had football tickets for his Law School alma mater so we made a day of the trip, visiting a few stores along the way.

The great thing about a No Spend Challenge is that even if I don’t consider the challenge successful I love the after effects of questioning every little purchase and not wanting to part with my money or bring home more unnecessary goods.

On Saturday I purchased a handful of items for about $15 at Half Price Books (I consider books as necessary as food and clothing) and spent another $13 on some clearance items at Meijer. They had cloth napkins bundled in packages of four for $2. They also had a really great Katie Brown glass dome on clearance for $5. I never would pay  the original $20 asking price but it will be great with a winter scene inside for Christmas and a plant for the rest of the year. Some $2 silicone ice cube trays rounded out my purchase.

These were all things that I either need or love and I think $28 for a day out isn’t too expensive.

I unconsciously decided to continue the No Spend Challenge for as long as I can. No money spent today so far and no plans to spend any tomorrow either. I would love to hold on to this momentum for as long as possible.

One step forward, two steps back

The “No Spend Challenge” went great this weekend! Mr. Wonderful and I engaged in some outdoor activities and enjoyed a little couch time. All free, all fun with no recreational shopping to speak of. On my way home yesterday, I tortured myself with a spin through TJ Maxx only to learn that they didn’t have one thing I wanted to buy. Nice,eh?

A quick trip through Aldi garnered $16 worth of groceries that, combined with the freezer/pantry stock should get me through the next two weeks.

Or so I thought.

Things didn’t exactly go as planned.

At home, I found a large puddle of water in front of the fridge. All of the ice from the ice maker had thawed. Funny. It’s not supposed to do that……

The compressor had blown on the fridge which is only about a decade old. A lot of food lost. Frustration mounting.

I do all this work, earn extra income and pinch pennies so that I can dig myself out of debt and maybe even…gasp….get ahead….only to fall further and further behind.

Deep Breath.

It will be ok. But now I will lose a day of productivity at work to go shop for an appliance I really can’t afford.

On the bright side, the sun is shining, the sky is blue and it feels like fall today. If Mother Nature is smiling it really can’t be so bad, right?

I bought a cookie

I didn’t even make it through the first day of my No Spend Challenge without spending money.

Sigh. I bought a cookie.

Not just any cookie. A Subway chocolate chip cookie. It cost .49 cents. And it was worth every penny.

I was on my way to a class last night and stopped by the library which happens to be conveniently located across the street from Subway. It was going to be a long night and I was running on fumes. So I slunk across the street and pulled out my change purse.

Today is going better. No currency has left my hands so far. After work I will walk and go home to eat leftovers from my fridge. I intend to do a little cleaning so there won’t be time or opportunity to spend money.

Can you believe I didn’t even survive a day? How sad.

A No Spend Challenge

I’m thinking about doing a no-spend challenge. I do this periodically, choosing a period of time like one month or even just two weeks and work to not spend money.

Whenever I do this I always set some ground rules. For example, I have to drive to work to make money so buying gasoline is non-negotiable.

But I don’t NEED that pack of gum at the gas station or that cool t-shirt on clearance at TJ Maxx. In fact, I don’t need to spend my free time browsing stores and buying things at all.

I usually set a grocery budget for the period. Say maybe $5 or $10 a week to buy fresh milk, fruit and bread if need be. Sometimes I spend every penny on these perishables and sometimes I don’t buy anything at all. But the grocery budget can’t be spent on a pastry and a Diet Coke just because I have a hankering.

This comes up after a recent review of my budget where I tried to figure out ways  to pay for some reasonably expensive home protection items I purchased after the burglary at Mr. Wonderful’s house. This has been a very expensive month so far and I need to plug up the holes and get things back to normal.

I’m not a big recreational shopper but I notice that I’ve been doing more of this than normal lately and it really needs to stop. If I need a pair dress shoes for work that’s one thing but browsing the stores for the sake of seeing what they have is a very bad habit.

This weekend I walked in a local 5k and then went hiking with Mr. Wonderful. We spent a few dollars on a Subway sandwich for a picnic and we took our cameras out to play (pictures coming soon). If I had been home that morning I would have made something for our picnic but a $5 footlong was still was an inexpensive option and the hike was a relaxing way to spend our day. We went home later in the day and watched movies, lounging on the couch and enjoying each other’s company.

That’s the way it should be.

We didn’t frustrate ourselves with the crowds and high prices in stores and we just relaxed. We didn’t do anything that cost money. We just had a nice, quiet day.

To put this in perspective, on Sunday we had a whirlwind day with his family eating out and shopping to celebrate his dad’s birthday. We had a terrific time and I adore his family but I was exhausted. Plus I spent money that I shouldn’t have. Not much, really. I used a Kohl’s card to buy something and used $5 cash to cover the balance owed. And then I spent about another $20 on some other small things. Like I said, I didn’t spend a lot but I still spent. And I still came home with that vaguely dissatisfied attitude toward my life that sometimes creeps in when I’m comparing my stuff to other people’s stuff.

And you know something? My stuff is just fine. It’s even nice! There’s nothing wrong with my stuff.

I am aware that my neurosis is bleeding through here. My apologies.

Anyway, it is  better for my morale if I stay away from stores and shopping for a while. It’s also better for my budget if I leave my money in the checking account where it belongs instead of in the stores.

As I have been writing this insanely scattered post it has occurred to me that the No Spend Challenge needs to begin today.

I will attempt to make it to October 5.

It has been a while since my last one of these so I fully expect slip-ups but will do my absolute best to only pay my bills, buy gas for my car and pick up the absolute necessities for food. I have a pantry and freezer full of supplies so that part shouldn’t be too hard.

One confession though. I have to travel some and I usually indulge in some kind of fast food meal, mainly because it’s just too hard to find food for the road that doesn’t need refrigerated or heated. But my idea of cheating here is to take my own aluminum water bottle and apple from home and grab a Subway breakfast sandwich or a value menu burger. So this category isn’t the budget breaker it could be, I suppose.

But as we know, every penny counts so I try to keep this occurrence to a minimum.

Ok. So who’s with me? Who is willing to pack their lunch, give up their morning Starbucks coffee and spend their weekends living instead of shopping? Anyone?