In honor of my 29th birthday this week, I’m inspired to do a Super Frugal Year leading up to my 30th.
The idea came to me on my actual birthday, while looking over my growing shopping list. Rather than continue the hunt for all those items, I asked myself these questions:
- How many of those items did I actually need?
- If they are a need, is there any way I could delay those purchases a year?
A year may sound like a long time, but I’ve found that it’s easier for me to delay purchases than it is to never buy something. That’s essentially what my year-long clothes shopping ban was – learning delayed gratification. The year-long break didn’t mean I’d never need to buy clothes again, but it did break the habit of everyday spending.
I don’t plan to deny myself anything that I truly need. But I do plan to question everything. To be aware of my personal spending blind spots, and to delay as many purchases as possible.
I want to take a spending break because even though I have a lot of frugal habits that I no longer need to think about, I’ve been “letting myself go” a bit too much lately. I’ve fallen back into spending habits where I can justify buying almost anything to myself.
“I could use another one of these.”
“It would be really nice to have one of those.”
“My ____________ is about to break and this one is on clearance!”
But all those perfectly justifiable little one-time purchases add up. And after a while that new feeling rubs off – and there’s no chance of re-selling the item for what I paid for it. At the end of the day, unnecessary purchases are wasted time, wasted money, wasted space, wasted resources.
In addition, Josh and I are approximately one year away from reaching a big financial goal of ours. I feel like this is just the motivation I need to stick with the challenge. Because, let’s face it, if you don’t have a goal in mind that you’re money will go toward, it is a lot more difficult to save. “Saving for the sake of saving” isn’t nearly as exciting as propelling forward toward a specific and time-sensitive goal.
So I came up with this crazy idea to try to do without all the extras for a year. We’ve already done a Buy Nothing Month and an Uber Frugal Month so I think we’ve got what it takes to do a larger version of this challenge.
I’m doing September to September for my challenge with my birthday as the benchmark. I’d encourage anyone else who is thinking about doing a yearly challenge of any kind not to wait until New Years rolls around to start saving. It’s best to start when you’re motivated, not at the start of a new year.
In this challenge we will not be cutting our giving, only our spending on ourselves. The plan is to do holidays frugally but with a lot of heart, which is ultimately our goal every year. And if we take a vacation it will be paid for with credit card points.
My number one hope for this year is that we will set some good habits in place. I’ve resolved to spend less time on Pinterest browsing designer homes and trending clothing. I’ve found that my discontentment level rises when I expose myself to beautiful, stylized images. While some of the images have artistic merit, it isn’t easy for me to separate “appreciating the art” and “wanting one for myself.” That’s just the sad truth for me personally.
Secondly, I really hope to save money and achieve our target financial goals. I want to do this without lessening our giving and without picking up a bunch of side jobs that will ultimately cut down on our time together as a family. The reason we live the way we do is to have that family time – not the stress of side hustling to get ahead.
New Definition of Wants and Needs
Thirdly, I want to really learn the difference between “wants” and “needs” and “needs that can wait.” This month my computer died. There’s no question as a creative person and as a blogger I will need to replace it. But Josh had a friend from work give him an old laptop recently. And while it isn’t as powerful as my beloved old computer, we got it up and running and right now it is meeting our needs. What a blessing to not have to rush out and search for a new one. But to breathe, adjust, and be thankful. We’re hoping it will last the whole year – maybe even beyond!
Yes, even needs can be delayed.
I also want to get rid of more than I acquire. One of the most detrimental pitfalls to any new minimalist is not addressing the inflow of stuff into the home. No matter how much you purge the old, there is still new stuff coming in right behind it. They call this the “consumer carousel of consumption.” The answer to getting off the carousel is to simply push pause. It sounds so simple, but it is truly revolutionary. I’m still wrestling with it, obviously. I hope to use this break to actually get ahead of the game on donating unused things that are simply taking up space and collecting dust.
Lastly, I hope to enjoy some saved time. Shopping actually takes up more time than we think. Consider how many of us set aside a whole day a week just for running errands. Is it possible that we could eliminate most errands other than a weekly trip to the grocery store? (Yes, you can buy toothpaste and TP at the grocery store!) One way I know it’s time for a reset is that I’ve found myself spending more time running between stores. I’m ready for a slower pace.
Simplify, Save, Focus
I’m excited and I think I’m ready. It’s time to prioritize my spending and say “no” more than I say “yes.”
No, I don’t need a new area rug.
No, I don’t need an electric fireplace.
No, I don’t need that light fixture, that bottle of wine, those new shoes, or that new iGadget.
No, you don’t need to feel sorry for me or offer to pay for things. I have bigger goals and this is my way of living intentionally and with purpose.
My desire is to live this year simply, intentionally, and ambitiously.
Here are my tips for a successful shopping ban. (Please excuse me while I go review them myself!)
What are your goals and intentions for this next year? How can we support one another in our visions?