Every year I come up with some sort of challenge for myself. This is my way to always push myself to try new things or try the same thing differently. Past challenges have included: Wearing everything I own, decluttering, trying a movie/tv show I didn’t think I would like, listening to a genre of music I don’t normally listen to, etc. Sometimes it’s a private challenge, and other times, like this time, I try to get friends involved.
This year I participated in “No Spend October.” After being limited on what I could do during the pandemic, once I felt safe to go back into society, I did everything. I was having amazing experiences, but I was also spending a lot of money. The concept of “No Spend October” was very simple – don’t buy any material objects for one month. The exceptions included: groceries/food, travel tickets that were already planned, emergencies, routine maintenance, and medical/dental. It’s really an honor system plan, and you can make it what you want. If you have kids/dependents, their items can be exceptions; however you want to do it.
So first I made the rules for myself. What was and was not allowed (for me). I formed a group chat with friends that were interested so that we could support one another. I watched a ton of videos on minimalism, consumerism, and why we don’t need as much “stuff” as we think we need. And then I prepared. I looked at where I was spending money in the past and a lot of it was from Amazon for online shopping. I logged out of all my online accounts – Amazon and Etsy. I added a mail rule to forward the coupons to a certain folder. And I got groceries before 10/1, just so I didn’t have to really leave the house and be tempted to buy anything.
The first couple of days were easy. I didn’t need anything. I think by the 2nd week I was “curious” what was on sale on Amazon, or I would see an ad on Instragram, and think “oooh, I could use that.” Not being logged in was a definite game changer on purchases from Amazon. It would have been such a hassle to log back in if I wanted something. Secondly, I began to question everything I thought I wanted. Did I really need it? Refraining from purchasing gave me time to think and also saved me money because 8 times out of 10 the price would drop, especially if you had it in your cart for later. There were a lot of little gadgets that I thought of buying but didn’t, so that was great. I also realized I don’t need anything that only has a single use – It’s such a waste of space if you don’t use it everyday. I think a toaster is a great item that I use nearly every day, but an avocado saver – I’m only going to use it if I cut an avocado and can’t eat both halves; not a good use of space/money.
Learnings in a nutshell:
- I learned to think things overnight for small purchases and to wait, even a week, for large purchases. What’s the rush? This forced sense of urgency gives us the FOMO (Fear of missing out) and we think we need it NOW (read this). I have looked at something and then forgotten about it and the price has dropped dramatically.
- I prefer to spend my money on experiences versus material items. It’s more fulfilling and doesn’t clutter my home!
- I don’t need 90% of the things that are advertised. Marketers have gotten really good about figuring out how to target us and we will ignore 9/10 ads, but there is always 1 that peaks our interest or that we spend more time listening to. Reduce your interaction with ads, sales, coupons, and you remove the “desire” for things
- Asking “Do I really need it?” and “Do I have something similar that could serve the same purpose?” are two very good questions to ask when looking at purchasing something new
- If I don’t know where I will put the new item, I’m not allowed to purchase it. If it’s art – which wall to hang it; if’s it’s a new gadget – where will it sit? If I really need it, I need to make space for it before purchasing
Overall, it was a good challenge. I definitely have some habits to take with me to reduce my consumerism and clutter. And that was the goal!
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