At least once per year our family takes on a No Spend season. Often it’s in January or February, but that’s not set in stone. This year it’s now-November. After a very full, fun summer and fall November just seemed like a perfect time to refocus, slow down a bit and gather ourselves together.
Starting a No Spend Season isn’t easy, if you’re not used to a more simple lifestyle. The first time we took on a No Spend Season it was hard, only because we needed to break habits of spending extra on un-needed things, but it was a good lesson in seeing how much we really do have, even on days when it doesn’t feel like it. It forced us out of a cycle of spending on things that, in the big picture, really don’t matter.
A No Spend Season years ago started us on a path to a more simple lifestyle, a refocusing on our priorities. We began to see what we WANTED to spend our money on, rather than the things we WERE spending our money on.
For us, money expenditures comes to down priorities. What is important to us? Are we spending a little too much here, but not there? Do we simply WANT to boost our savings a little more? I’m not a financial expert by anymeans, but we have learned to LOVE living simply and intentionally. We’ve made some wonderful memories because we chose to make making memories a priority.
Spending less, means having more, which means giving more. We have received some amazing gifts. God has used his church to bless us in some really incredible ways, both materially and non-materially. Non-material gifts build a foundation, and are the most important “things” in life. Material gifts have never failed to come at the wrong time. I’m constantly amazed how God provides for us.
What does a No Spend Season look like?
Depsite it’s title, a No Spend Season doesn’t mean we spend NOTHING, nor do we become prisoners in our homes. That would be irresponsible. It does mean we don’t spend extra. It means we stay home more, we spend more time communing with others. It means we tighten down the budget and find where we are spending those dollars that we don’t necessarily need to spend, being more mindful of where we DO spend our money. It means we say no to things that don’t matter-we focus on what we actually need to spend, like groceries, gas for the car, birthday gifts for the kids. However, can we cut the grocery budget a little-get back to basics? Can we cut back on the number of trips we take in the car? Can we stop going to the movies for a month? (yes..the answer to that one is yes). Can we choose to not eat out for one month? We spend what we must spend, but cut out the expenditures we truly don’t need to spend.
A No Spend Season isn’t meant to be a kill-joy, it’s meant to remind us of what we really have.
Can there be exceptions?
Yes! I believe there must be freedom for exceptions in order for the discipline to be effective. This month is Thanksgiving-many of us will travel or host family for Thanksgiving dinner. There are few things more worthy of spending money on than celebrating the bounty and our loved ones. Other exceptions? Emergencies, family time/making memories, celebrations, birthdays, when wisdom tells us to say yes instead of no. Does one of your babies need a treat and some mom or dad time? Take them. Take them. Take them. Do you need a long awaited date night with your spouse for the sake of your marriage? Do it with no regrets. Life and family is too important to insist on saying no, when wisdom says we should say yes.
That being said, here are some reasons you should have a No Spend Season.
10 Reasons you should have a No Spend Season
- It forces us to slow down, to live a bit more simple of a life. In a fast paced world, slowing down heals our bodies and souls. We weren’t created for such busyness, for life to be occupied by electronics, phones, noise. A No Spend Season keeps the simple things in sight. Go for a walk, drink tea, invite a friend over, play a board game.
- It saves money. Whether that money goes into a savings account, toward a special purchase or paying down some debt, we each have our own reason for having a No Spend Season financially, but save money it does!
- It reminds us that much of the world’s people live on very little. Let’s be honest, choosing to experience a No Spend Season is a first world issue. According to Pew Global 56% of the world’s population lives on $2-$10 per day. This fact reminds us how fortunate we are, here in a first world country, and how much we really do have. Always a good, yet sobering reminder that perhaps we take things for granted-a no spend season forces us see what we have and appreciate it.
- It helps us practice discipline-financial, decision making, delayed gratification.
- It gives us a restart-a chance to look over our budget, to stop and refocus, remind ourselves of our priorities.
- It gives us opportunities to stay home-gathering with our own families, or spending intentional time with friends.
- Gives us built in time to spend on hobbies-if we aren’t spending extra, we find that time and money to spend on things that fill us.
- We have a chance to be good stewards of what we have-eating, using, fixing, appreciating those things we already own.
- We have a chance to learn about our community-maybe we can hit the library a bit more often, or walk and take note of the architecture around us, find a local university and take advantage of free performances.
- If you’re a believer in God as provider, a No Spend Season, whether it’s a month, a season, or a lifestyle, trusting God with everything we have allows Him to bless us in some extraordinary ways. It also allows us to see His hand in everything.
We’d love to hear some ways you spend your No Spend time, or some ways you’ve learned to refocus your money…I’d give a gift card for the most creative one, but you know, that would be spending money, so …… 😉
Happy No Spend Season! Let us know if you’re on board with us for the month of November!