In:Intentional LivingPersonal Life

Taking A Spending Pause

Every once in a while, I like to commit to a spend-free week.  This means that I don’t spend any unnecessary money during that period of time. I’ve decided it’s a good time for a spend-free week, starting tomorrow.

I’ve just finished the two big projects I’ve been working on; Oktoberfest last weekend, and mostly re-styling my living room. Both projects had me spending countless hours in physical stores or in front of my laptop, thinking about things to buy. It was totally great, but I’ve found that I’ve created some unhealthy rhythms through the process. I’ve found that since I’ve been shopping a lot, I’ve been…shopping a lot.  I’m constantly thinking of new things someone in my household needs, and I’m immediately off to satisfy the need. Rather than spending my evenings reading, relaxing with my husband, developing a skill or pursuing a creative interest, I automatically flip my laptop open and start thinking about that storage shelf I’m hoping to replace besides my gray sofa, winter shoes for myself, or space heaters for the boy’s rooms. While these are things that would truly improve our lives, I don’t want to spend all my free time thinking about acquiring more material goods.  There’s a lot more going on in life than stuff.

The fact that this is even a problem shows how incredibly blessed I am.  In fact, I feel pretty ridiculous writing this post at all.  There are so many of God’s precious human beings out there suffering in abject poverty, in bondage and pain, and I’m over here forcing myself to not spend money for a week so I can better use my free time.  My FREE time.

I am humbled. Disgusted by myself. Feeling so blessed.  Feeling compelled to give away all that money I’m not spending.  Hold on Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, I’m coming for ya.

But that’s not directly the purpose of this post.

I’ve taken a spending break many times in the past, and I think it’s a really healthy practice.  It helps me to clearly see my spending habits; to examine how, why and when I spend.  It helps me to really evaluate my needs, and to use what I have more creatively. Let’s take those three items I mentioned earlier as an example.  Do I really NEED a new storage shelf right now?  No, I don’t actually need it.  I’ve temporarily put our existing shelf in Harris’ room, and the new location makes the toys all feel new and interesting to the boys.  Yes, it would be helpful to have a better piece out here, it would be more functional, and it would make this visual mama happy. But it’s not a real need. Do I need boots now? No, it’s still 90 degrees out, I can think about something else for a month, and come back to it when my toes are actually cold.  Do the boys need heaters tonight?  No, they are still cozy enough in two layers of pajamas, we can hold off on the heaters a little longer.  I don’t actually NEED to spend my time surfing the web for my next purchase.  It’s time for me to reassess how I use my free moments, and to get off the computer.

Taking a spending fast frees my mind to think about other things.  I find myself using my time in more fulfilling and productive ways.  I have a book I need to start reading for my quarterly book club.  I need to get to bed earlier so I am ready to exercise in the wee hours. Even during the day, I find myself refocusing my use of time.  I’m excited to take nature walks with the boys, rather than short strolls over to Target.

After 6 weeks of Oktoberfest preparations, and the hours spent searching for the perfect pieces for my living room, I’m ready for a spend-free week.  I’m starting tomorrow, and here is what I’m trying to accomplish:

No unnecessary spending.

I’ll still need to grocery shop for my family, but I won’t get anything unnecessary.  No mega trips to Costco.  No stocking up on essentials, no trying out new things.  For me, it’s not as much about saving money as it is about re-training my thought processes, so I’m limiting my grocery list to the essentials.

I’m co-hosting a baby shower this Saturday and attending a birthday party next Saturday.  Obviously, those will both require gifts bought and money spent, but that is all I’m allowing myself to spend money on.

I need to think ahead when leaving the house, so I don’t find myself desperately grabbing a snack for hungry kids.  I need to make sure I’m sufficiently caffeinated before leaving the house, so I don’t find myself in a slump when I’m out at a park meet-up with other moms.

No new home decor.  No new clothes, for any of us.  No activities that cost money.

It sounds easy, but money slips out of the wallet much more easily than you might think.   I’m looking forward to this opportunity to examine the ways I’m spending, and to focus my attention on more meaningful things.  See ya next week Amazon Prime!


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