As I begin to build this blog back up, you’ll notice that I write a lot about minimalism, cutting down and bringing less stuff into my home. Part of that is because we just have way too much stuff, but also because I want my home to feel more peaceful, and I want my children to be grateful for the things they have.
Regrettably the holiday season in our culture, I feel, has become the exact opposite of that. There’s a reason why we keep seeing articles and blog posts encouraging people to “simplify the holidays”. As it turns out, peacefulness and gratefulness are two qualities that have been blotted out by our culture of busyness and rampant consumerism.
Even with paring down on Christmas gifts this year (we only got two gifts for each child, plus some more from other family members, and a few stocking stuffers), I still managed to rack up a hefty bill by purchasing some more expensive baby gear during Black Friday. They were things we need though, like a heavy-duty stroller foot-muff (it gets below -25C on a regular basis during the winter here!), a baby carrier, and a convertible car seat for our second vehicle.
I do feel a bit better about these purchases knowing that they will hold their value for when we’re done with them. Regardless, those purchases add up, and so I feel like a post-Christmas no-spending detox challenge is in order.
What is No-Spending January?
If you’re familiar with the mom-blogging world, you’ve likely seen the No-Spending January challenge before. It’s where you commit to making no purchases beyond what you need to get through the month.
For us, that means rent, groceries, electric, internet and phone bills, and other ongoing monthly expenses such as insurance and Netflix. For one month, I’ll commit to not buying Starbucks or Tim Hortons, no takeout dinners and no entertainment purchases including clothing, books and hobby materials.
It’s always a good idea to take a little break, to rest and unwind. The most hectic season of the year is over, now it’s time to breathe and enjoy the freshness of a new year.
In many ways, the holiday season can leave us bit *stretched out* on multiple levels. It’s the season where we stretch our wallets as far as they can go to make sure we get Christmas gifts for *everyone*, and we’re so stuffed from party after party, not to mention the Christmas and New Years holidays themselves where we certainly tend to indulge more than we normally do.
Then, there’s Boxing Week, where we tend to overspend AGAIN and wants become “needs” as the prices come down.
I’m not saying that this is always a bad thing. In fact, it’s often a great time of year to pick up things that you definitely DO need, or things that you’ve been thinking about for a long time but were waiting for the moment when you can pick them up at a discount.
But at the end of the day (or month, or two, or THREE months – the Christmas Creep is real, folks), the excess of the holiday season can leave us with a bit of a hangover. The credit card bills come in, we struggle to fit all the plastic and cardboard packaging into the curbside bins, and we just feel a little sluggish from a month or more of festivities.
How I’m doing No-Spending January
For 31 days, I commit to only spending money on groceries, gas and our essential monthly expenses (the aforementioned bills).
Furthermore, I commit to setting a strict budget for grocery spending. I admit, I generally don’t set a monthly budget at all, so I don’t really have a benchmark for grocery spending. I can estimate that $200/week is sufficient for our family given that I still have lots of meat in the freezer, which is usually our biggest grocery cost.
To get through the month without resorting to takeout dinners (something that I’ve regrettably been doing far too often lately as life with two kids has really thrown me for a loop), I’ll be doing lots of batch and freezer cooking.
I’m also committing to bringing coffee from home in my reusable travel mug. Not only will it save money over the month, but it’ll drastically cut down on the number of single-use cups I put in the trash. I typically have a coffee from Starbucks every few days (there’s a kiosk at my local grocery store and mama needs coffee), so this will be significant.
Other than that, the challenge will be combating my habit of buying things on impulse, or when I haven’t planned ahead for meals.
Will you join me in the No-Spending January challenge? If so, leave a comment below and definitely follow along as I’ll be posting updates on how I’m doing throughout the month!