As you probably know, at the start of this year I began to do 21 day challenges of new habits & experiments I wanted to try out, but not commit to forever.
- 21 days without social media (now permanent!)
- 21 days of a deeper digital declutter
- 21 days of blogging
- 21 days of meditating
- 21 days of raising readers
Over the last month, I started a new challenge: reducing my spending.
Here’s the guidelines I created for this challenge
- If I do need to buy something – don’t add anything to the order. Just buy the one thing, not six other random things!
- I’m going to likely keep a public log of what I am buying to bring extra clarity around it. (Didn’t end up doing this – I haven’t been online much this past month. I’ve been happily immersed in kid world instead!)
- I’m going to not buy online for the next 21 days. I just get into this habit of buying even more stuff so I qualify for free shipping.
- Definitely no buying from Amazon!
- I have a stack of books (both printed & Kindle) to read.
- My kids are flooded with books, so don’t need me to buy anymore. We can get back into the habit of using the library instead.
- I’d like to experience more nature instead of shops. Consider the beach or a bushwalk instead?
- Consider cooking more at home instead of getting takeaway.
- Hot zone shops where I always end up buying stuff: Chemist. Big W. Target. Pillowtalk.
- I only recently did an Expenses Challenge to cut extra costs out of my business and personal spending (just like the one we do in the Money course!) – I don’t know if there’ll be much to cut out this time. But I’ll have a looksee at it and see if I can!
As I shared when I started this no-spend challenge… it probably wasn’t the best time to start. But it will never be the perfect time, so might as well explore it anyway!
- I’ve injured my back again which rather fucks my plans for doing a no-spend challenge. I can’t stand long enough to cook, so takeaway it is. Plus, I’ll be seeing my osteopath a couple times a week for the next wee while. And I’ve already been to her so often this year I’ve maxed out my health insurance to contribute. Also: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA FUCK.
- We headed off for a couple of nights to visit our in-laws. First nights away in years! We ate a buttload of takeaway, including food from this brilliant 1950sish diner. Also went to the amazing Story Bank – the birthplace of the author of Mary Poppins! It’s a stunningly renovated historic building, and the museum is a wonderful idea. Highly recommend!
- Did manage to resist buying anything from the museum gift store, so that’s a first!
- Had car accident. Thankfully, we’re ok & kangaroo was ok. Car was… not ok. It will be in panel beaters for a couple of months. We were insured. Excess will be $800. We pay a higher excess in return for lower yearly insurance fees – we very rarely have accidents so that made most sense for us.
- Thankfully, have second car – an 11 year old Hybrid. We had been considering selling it and investing the cash instead, but I’m glad we have it for moments like this…
- Littlest kid asked for something she could wear to give her end of term presentation. She wanted to dress up as Steve Backshall from Deadly 60 as she is presenting a biography about him. She asked for a pair of cargo pants, and I told her we could buy some if she was going to wear them not just for the presentation. She was keen, so we went for a hunt. We found a pair of cotton cargo pants in the boy’s section of Big W for $18. I resisted the urge to add more to my order and just grab what we actually needed. When we took it to the counter to pay… we discovered they were on sale for $10. AND we had a rewards voucher for… $10. FREE PANTS! A FREE PAIR OF PANTS! My level of satisfaction was through the rooooof.
- Had to spend cash on my ailing back though – hobbled over to the pillowstore to get a body pillow for jamming my derelict hips around while I sleep.
I’m struggling with reducing amount on food and takeaway, especially when I’m not able to cook due to my back. I’m wondering if this whole no spend challenge is a feckless task.
There’s only a certain amount I can reduce my expenses, and a million ways I could just increase my income instead. If I exerted a LOT of pressure, I could potentially bring down our expenses by $2,000 a month. OR… if I exert a LOT of pressure on income production, I can bring in an extra $100,000 a month.
Plus, my expenditures can increase my income. Getting that $10 smoothie a day tends to mean I have the energy for work. Spending $160 a week on osteopathy when I need it means I can function (and work).
I get that not everyone is in the same position – I am remarkably privileged. And I can only make the decision that’s right for me and what my particular setup looks like.
What if instead of no spend I changed the rules up to fit me and my life for right now:
- No buying products online
- No adding extra things that we don’t need
- Continue to do monthly net worth tracking, and investing as much savings as possible.
I’m not sure. I’ll keep moodling.
Read THE UNSETTLERS by Mark Sundeen. It’s three stories of people living deeply unconventional lives – including giving up money and living self-sustainably. I love reading these kinds of books – it falls into the same category of other past favourite reads of mine like:
- Living The Good Life – Linda Cockburn
- The Moneyless Man – Mark Boyle
- The Way Home: Tales from a life without technology – Mark Boyle
- The Man Who Quit Money – Mark Sundeen
- The Salt Path – Raynor Winn
This quote near the end of Unsettlers had me cackle. It describes me to a tee:
“You don’t like to rough it. You don’t like to be cold, or to split wood in the snow. You don’t like to garden. You don’t like to fix things. You like to hire someone to do it. You like to take a hot shower every night.”
It was true. I was not the type to fill my boots with snow just to get a closer look at an owl. I was the type to read a book about such a person. Or write one. I was in the category of most simple-life dabblers: seduced by the idea of it, repelled by the hardship.
I’ll read ALL the books about not using money, living off the land and camping for a year. Will I do it myself? FUCK.NO. Ha!
My eldest kid has grown out of all her short-sleeve tshirts. The weather has just suddenly changed to HOT, so we ordered five shirts. She’s now at an age however when she chooses all of her own clothes, so she ordered online with me and I went to collect for her while she was at school.
It’s hilarious – my ex-Steiner baby who used to live on princess dresses and rainbow hats now exists on a strict diet of… black. I call her Baby Goth.
Here’s the conversation we had:
“Oh honey, I picked up your summer tshirt order today. So summery! There was a black tshirt and…”
(and immediately she got the joke I was going for, and we recited together)
“a black tshirt and a black tshirt and a black tshirt and a black tshirt!”
Then we cackled like witches. Me and my 11 year old Baby Goth. She’s a rad human.
In terms of no spend, I DID succeed in not purchasing anything more than just what we needed for Baby Goth’s Summer. That’s a real win!
Again: my timing with this challenge hasn’t been great.
We just spent $2,500 booking 2 weeks of holidays over Christmas. We haven’t holidayed in… 5 years? It’s more than time.
Have to remind myself: this has been about reducing overspending, not about not spending anything altogether.
We’re definitely way down on getting Amazon packages in the mail, so my plan to not order as much from it has worked! Hooray!
I started doing Christmas and birthday season planning as it’s rapidly approaching (both me & my husband are November babies, and both our Dads are December babies). My new organisational flex goal of the last few years is that I now have all Christmas shopping and prep done by end of November. Yes, why thank you, I AM a smug wanker!
I ended up pre-ordering some of our favourite rituals that we’ve been doing for a few years now. Sometimes these pieces can be tricky to get if I leave it too late. Plus, I spend less money when I plan what I purchase way ahead of time.
- a gingerbread house kit from Gingerbread Folk
- a LEGO Friends Advent calendar for my girls to share in December
- Christmas pyjamas for my girls.
The advent calendar & pyjamas are given to them December 1. The pyjamas end up getting worn all year around – they just love them.
For my birthday, I usually go away to a hotel by myself for a night. At the moment though, I feel like I’ve had enough alone time… I need some PEOPLE, dammit! I’ve booked out my favourite B&B for a night and am going to have a slumber party with some of my women folk. SO KEEN.
I also ordered myself some graphic novels & interior design books for the family to give to me as my birthday present. Me & my husband usually buy our own main presents, and then gift each other little things (like a custom journal or giant mug). Neither of us have receiving gifts as a love language, so we’re fairly practical.
Started reading Shop Your Wardrobe: a year without clothes shopping.
I was going to do an expenses review for life & business using the spreadsheet I share in Money, Manifesting & Multiple Streams of Income. I usually do it at least annually and save thousands. I did my last one a few months ago, so when I went to review, there wasn’t much to cut out. I should take this as a win: I’ve got good financial systems & habits in place already.
We’ve had some electrical issues, and need to replace some of our switchboard. Got a quote: $1200. HA. OF COURSE.
I don’t think we’ve succeeded on not buying ANY books this month… we probably bought half of what we usually do.
I’m excited – it’s nearly the end of the month… which means financial reporting time!!!
I’m not even joking – I am so excited when I get to do it.
- how much income the company has brought in
- how much my personal net worth has increased
- how much money I invested that month
- how much closer I am to my retirement goals.
Doing this definitely puts my focus on the things I want to grow!
As I write this, our dishwasher has just blown up. I think we need to get it repaired, or it may need replacing. This all makes me cackle. In the month that I decided to do a no spend challenge I:
- had a car accident, paid insurance excess of $800 and are without our main car for 2 months
- booked our first holidays in five years and spent $2500
- injured my back again which required a fair bit of medical care & aids
- need to replace our switchboard for $1200
- likely need to replace our dishwasher
- did a bunch of Christmas and birthday orders.
All in all, it’s been one of the most expensive months of the year.
HO HO HO HO HO.
Still, I have to keep reminding myself: this wasn’t about no spend. This was about taking control of the OVER spending and consumption. Stopping the places where I unconsciously bought more just for the sake of it.
And I reckon I did a decent job at being mindful of that.
Plus, with all the money I saved from not overspending, I can spend it on exciting things like A HOLIDAY!
(Also: insurances and electrical appliances and all the rest of life’s calamities!)
Are all my 21 day challenges life changing?
Nah. But they don’t need to be. They are just a great way to exploring new habits & experiences. I love the opportunity to research more, play with it, and see what’s the right fit for me.
Going without social media as a challenge was by far the most life changing shift for me, and it ended up becoming the Marketing Without Social Media program because so many people asked me about it. I’m still grateful for all the experiments I’ve had so far though. I’ve learned so much and it’s been a real thrill!
I also tried out something new but didn’t turn it into a 21 day challenge – I started using David Allen’s Getting Things Done system and keeping a physical inbox plus weekly reviews. It’s been freaking BRILLIANT, and I’ll continue doing this permanently I reckon.
Will I do a no-spend challenge again in the future?
Absoloodely. I did it a couple of years ago. It’s such a great way to cleanse the overconsumption palate and bring more mindfulness in.
What 21 day challenge will I do next?
I’m not sure. I think I need to finish this one up first before the answer becomes clear for the next!
Here’s my current list of challenge ideas:
All divided up into helpful categories too! NOICE!
- Whole Foods
- No sugar
- Cooking from scratch
- Ring Fit
- Drawing comics
- Art journaling
- The Artist’s Way methodology (daily morning pages and weekly artist dates)
- No Phone
- Decluttering & organising
- DIY & renovations
Work & Productivity
- Miracle Morning methodology
- Franzen checklist method
In terms of what I’m leaning towards, I think it’s probably 21 days of decluttering & organising.
It’s what I’m naturally doing anyway.
I’ve got a couple of resources to use as guides as well:
I’ve also found The Minimal Mom’s Youtube videos helpful as well.
And I’ve got a few books that I’ve already started reading:
- Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD by Susan Pinsky
- Decluttering at the speed of life – Dana White
Plus I just finished reading & taking notes on:
Having said that, I may wake up tomorrow and completely change my mind and do another challenge!
Or do none at all for a while. I always need to feel like I have the freedom to change my mind whenever I need to. The Leonie of Today isn’t always the best expert for what Leonie of Tomorrow needs!
I hope you’re enjoying these fun experiments as much as I am!
Thank you, as always, for sharing this journey with me.
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