This is a little late getting posted…since we’re 10 days into January already….but we started No Spend January at beginning of the month. We have done NSJ for a few years. This year though, our NSJ will likely last through March rather than ending on January 31st. We are sensing a deep calling to dive deep into discipline practices-not just financially but spiritually, relationally and physically as well. None of those things (spirit, finances, bodies, relationships) are entities unto themselves. Discipline in one area affects discipline in other areas.
Our constant aim in life is less:non-important and more:intentionally important. Right now we are sensing a need to get rid of even more unneeded material items we aren’t minimalists, though we aim to depend on material objects that simply take up time and space less and less so that LIVING can be more abundant. Purging both big and small items, making space for intangible things in life, quieting our schedules, making memories, spending more family and friend time, having more time devoted to our faith journeys, and making time for hobbies that breathe life into our souls is forefront on our minds.
Time with others and each other (this is hard to understand since we homeschool, but often our days revolved around school and the need for making space for fun becomes clear) needs to be practiced more.
There are seasons where we must spend more and add more to the calendar. Life just happens that way and we celebrate those times. The ebb and flow of birthdays, holidays, concerts, vacations, school year…it’s all a natural rhythm. There are other seasons though, where living on less, giving away more and practicing calm must take place to restore the peace that busyness can too often take away.
In this season when the earth rests and rejuvenates itself in preparation for the next season, we rest and prepare too. Our busy schedule has calmed down, the girl’s extra-curricular activities are on hiatus for one month for Kaitlyn and three months for Anna. The holidays are over. We have no immediate plans for the coming months.
A No Spend Month holistically means that physically we prepare and restore our bodies, giving them both proper rest and adequate movement. Spiritually it means we devote more time to study and prayer. Relationally it means we need to spend more time connecting with others. Financially it means our budget goes to an “assume we will spend nothing and work our way up from there” attitude. It also means that we will have more opportunities to give to organizations and efforts we believe in.
A No Spend Month tangibly is a time to review the budget, put extra into savings, breathe after the holidays are over and practice financial discipline. It’s cold,cold (cold) here and what better time of the year for a No Spend experience than a time in which we (our family) won’t be taking vacations, have no major plans and will spend more time indoors (for no other reason than the temperature). We do walk despite the temperatures, snowshoe when there is a good amount of snow, and this year Kaitlyn wants to learn how to ski but our normal day to day tends to be more inside than out for this time of year in our neck of the woods. It’s a time to catch up on household projects, budgeting projects, de-cluttering projects, planning the garden and lots and lots of school work (though I’m the only one truly happy about this:)
If you’d like to join us in a No Spend Month, here are some practical details…..
- Spend zero money on any unnecessary items, expenditures, meals, events. Take a look at what’s in the pantry for meal planning, what’s in the closet for toiletries, what’s on the bookshelf to read or watch.
- Limit driving
- Restrain from spontaneous buying.
- Practice saying no.
- What can you give away or sell? Figure it out and follow through.
- For us now….lasting likely through March (our end date is not certain).
- For anyone….choosing a month or a season that works for you.
- First, you need to know your budget so you can know exactly what you HAVE to pay versus what you WANT to pay. The phone bill is a need. Food is a need. Gas money is a need (though limits on all of those are important). Soda and Dunkin Donuts are not needs. OR perhaps you don’t live on a budget but want to, a No Spend Month will be a great way to jumpstart living on a budget.
- Stick to the budget and add every spare penny you have into savings, or vacation fund, or paying off debt. Choose which category needs money MOST and dedicate your extra money to it.
- Meal Plan-take a look in the pantry and get creative. Some ideas: Use this month to eat only what’s in the freezer. Commit to purchasing only fresh foods or dedicate a small amount of money toward food purchases, rather than your regular food budget allocation.
- Schedule Family Nights, At Home Movie Nights, No cost nights with friends.
- Get outside more.
- Spend more time reading, walking, de-cluttering, giving away, working on no-cost hobbies, finishing projects.
- Spend gift cards only for special dinners, nights out or purchases.
- Use what you already have.
- Be flexible…My girls need new snow pants and boots this year. I haven’t bought them yet because it’s been unseasonably warm, but they will need them soon. This goes in the need category.
- Practice Calm. Shut the tv off, turn off the electronics, take an internet fast, pray more, practice silence.
- Right where you are.
We would love to hear your thoughts on No Spend Month. Have you chosen a time for No Spend? What is your favorite thing to do? Meals to make? Funny stories? What have you learned from a No Spend Month?
Blessings on the journey. Chrystal