There was a lovely and thoughtful discussion over at Northern Cheapskate on the difficulties that people would have had with the No Spend Challenge. I want to stress that it was a completely voluntary experience and that while I committed to a no spend month, I wanted people to modify it to their lifestyle and what they felt comfortable with. If a day was what you were comfortable with, if it is a habit you are trying to break, if a week would shed light on your finances- then those were all great and wonderful ways to implement a challenge in your life.
Most of the comments said how difficult it would be to not go on a spending binge after the challenge was over. What a valid point that is! I have also received some comments and emails since the challenge was over wondering if I was having problems with spending and if it will have saved me money in the long run.
The weird thing for me is that other than my little $15 in yarn excursion for some gifts I am working on, a hair cut (which typically happens each month), a necessary birthday gift for my husband, and my $1 Diet Coke that I buy myself after grocery shopping, I had no inclination to run out and spend loads of money.
Here is the weirder part… My husband’s birthday is this week and I got him a watch for his 30th birthday (a killer deal that I scored off of eBay). I took it to the mall to get it engraved and they told me it would take an hour before it would be ready. I had all of this time to shop and instead, I took my daughter over to the play area, whipped out my knitting project, and just sat and knitted while she played for an hour.
She was so happy running around and talking to the children and counting the blocks on the floor, and reciting her 1-2-3’s at the top of her lungs and I drank all of that in and worked on my project. There was no tug to shop… although I did feel a tiny tug to get a cup of coffee.
What did change is that the challenge did shed light on some problems that I have with my spending.
I now know that there are a couple of days that are harder for me with my work and I am trying to get dinner prepared ahead of time or work on slow cooker meals for those nights to reduce our eating out.
I realized that I need to scale back on outings that cost money and so I am choosing to do one thing a week instead of a few.
I am entertaining more because, frankly, my house looks better when I know I have people coming and it breaks my day up.
And most of all, it has made me conscious of my spending habits and how I can improve them. Even a money-savvy gal like myself, needed a little wake-up call into how we could improve our financial situation.
As for the economy and the negative impact I had on it by challenging others to a No Spend Challenge… well, I won’t apologize for that and I know that might anger some people. I live in a part of the country that is particularly plagued with job loss and I am doing what I can to prepare our finances and make our situation stronger. My husband lost his job for a year and it took us five years to recover from that. I want to build a safety net for my family and not spending helped us gain perspective on how we can make that happen.
I might not have the influence of Oprah, but I still hope I made a difference on how families can improve their finances. And can I say to Oprah, I thought of the No Spend Challenge first? You know, just in case someone needs that information for historical purposes.
Are you reducing your spending to protect your family or are you increasing your spending to protect the economy? Do you believe it is an either/or philosophy?