For the past several years, we have (as a family) given up meat for Lent. Although this may seem daunting for some, we eat a vegetarian diet about 70-80% of the time, so going meat-free wasn’t that great of a ‘sacrifice’. So this year, I wanted to do something else. Something that was still challenging, but in a different way. Thus the ‘No-Spend Lent’ idea was born.
Why a “No Spend” challenge?
- We are a family of 5 living in 1400 square feet. The less we bring into this house, the better.
- Use what we have. I literally have a chest freezer that is full of food that needs to be used. We have plenty of clothes/toys/home items.
- Curb impulse spending. I am a sucker for take-away coffee, a magazine here or there, drive-thru fast food. These ‘little nothings’ add up, and I’m curious how much we can save by excluding those from our spending for a few weeks.
- We have enough. Truly. We are healthy, happy, secure. Our pantry and hearts are full.
I did some research about ‘No-Spend Weekends’ and read about people who went a year without buying anything. There are no “standard” rules for a No-Spend Challenge, so here are the ones we created:
- Budgeted items such as bills, food, transport costs (fuel, bus/train fare).
- Preplanned expenses – Patrick’s birthday and passport renewal. (Yay expat expenses!)
- Kids’ activities – dance and swimming renewals will fall during Lent
- Work Engagements/Reimbursable expenses – I have several board meetings, Brad has a work trip. Life doesn’t stop, so we will do our best to make accommodations.
- Emergency items – hopefully none of these!
- Dining out or takeaway, unless reimbursed
- Decor for the house – even that fabulous rug I have been eyeing for our dining room!
- Random goodies
- Take-away coffee – sob sob sob
I hope that this challenge will be a way to refocus on what matters to us, rather than be consumed by the stuff around us. We literally live in the land of plenty. From an environmental perspective, we are drowning in stuff. The benefits of having ‘less’ are well documented. The fewer toys our kids have, the more they entertain themselves. There is less to clean. We can spend our resources on things that are more important to us.
In addition to this, I’m also giving up Twitter for Lent. I use Twitter to get my news and political junkie ‘fix’. It has started to add so much stress to my life, as I feel powerless to affect what is happening in the US. I find myself checking it all the time. So I’m stepping away from Twitter for these 40 days, deleting the app from my phone and tablet. I’ll still be on Instagram, documenting the highs and lows of this challenge.