No Spend Month: Staying Strong

Bought: Groceries

Did not buy:

  • $32 cigarettes
  • $13.95 eco produce bags
  • $160 worth of soapnut shampoo bars from the UK, even though I really, really wanted to
  • $239 new handbag for work
  • $23 new bigger Keepcup in grey like a true minimalist *joking (not really)*
  • $137 worth of dress jewellery, rose gold rings to be specific

Total saved by staying strong: $604.95

Each one of these had its own set of temptations that I had to resist and one thing I noticed is just how easily I’m influenced, especially by marketing. And that’s pretty sad, considering I work in marketing and I know exactly how brands create this false sense of “need” and urgency, when in actual fact all of the things I wanted to buy are squarely in the “want” category and will probably still be there later, be the same price later and I’ll most likely find something I want more, later.

Temptations:

  • Cigarettes – this one is obviously a set of self created temptations, namely that I’m addicted to cigarettes
  • Eco produce bags – I’ve been watching more zero waste videos on Youtube and a lot of them mention using produce bags as a way of minimising the use of plastic bags when buying fruits and vegetables. This is probably my biggest weakness – when I’m really interested in something, I truly believe that in order to be good at whatever it is, I need to buy everything associated with it, immediately.
  • Soapnut shampoo bars – the above weakness can also be applied to these bars. I saw a few of my favourite minimalist/zero waste Youtubers recommend these and they became a ‘must-have’. Then once I added items to my cart on the website and didn’t complete the purchase, I got a voucher for 10% off, which nearly pushed me over the line – but no, I stood my ground. I know one day I will purchase them, but I have convinced myself that day won’t be today…in fact it will most likely be the day when I’m nearly out of shampoo and the British Pound is weaker against the Australian Dollar.
  • New handbag – again, I’m starting a new job and I feel like in order to put my best foot forward I need perfect work outfits, accessorised by the perfect larger work bag. I had to tell myself repeatedly that what’s more important to the job is actually being able to do the job and getting along with people. However, it was still a difficult decision to turn away from buying the bag, especially since it was at 25% discount (for a limited time only of course) which meant a saving of over $80.
  • Keepcup – I already have 3, but again it was on sale (29% off) and this one is bigger, made out of glass and in a minimalist grey – but I shouted to myself: “You already have THREE! Who cares if its in minimalist grey if you fail at being a minimalist?”
  • Rings – I’ve been wanting these for a long time and they’re currently 20% off storewide. I talked myself out of buying these because I had to recognise the fact that I don’t actually wear rings, and when I do, I usually lose them.

Anyway, I’m finding it very tiring having these silent, mental arguments with myself, in my head, all day long. I am really hoping that once I get better at not spending money, that this tedious back and forth will stop or at least significantly lessen. Either that or I’m going to go crazy and then I’m going to have to spend all my hard earned savings on a psychiatrist.

No Spend Month

So I start my new job in 2 weeks. Until then I’m living off my own money, which is why I think it’s a good time to try the no spend challenge.

I’ve been trying to cut down my spending over the last 6-9months with slow progress. I have cut down my spending a little and I have improved in that the things I buy are not completely useless. Even with clothes I only keep the items I really love and return everything else.

The rules I’ve set up for myself during this challenge are:

  • No frivolous spending e.g. unnecessary things – mainly clothes, bags, shoes, homewares, decor, kitchenware, gadgets, etc
  • No spending on takeaway food
  • No spending on desserts when eating out
  • No coffees, smoothies, juices, etc

What I can spend on:

  • Necessities e.g. rent, bills, groceries, transport, petrol, medication, etc
  • Experiences e.g. going out with friends, dinners out, brunch, museums, outdoor activities, etc

I know a lot of people who have done the no spend challenge also included going out as part of the challenge, but that’s just not something I wanted to include in mine. This is mostly because I think experiences are worth spending money, time and effort on. These are the things that I’ll remember when I’m old and these are the things that help me spend more time with people that I love.

Also, I don’t go out that often and when I go out I never drink, which means I don’t spend much money anyway.

I’ll make weekly updates on my progress. Hopefully I’ll manage to save some money.

Minimalist Learnings & Realisations

Depending on how you found out about minimalism, if you happened to stumble across it via Youtube like I did, the initial impression you may have gotten was that minimalism is all about decluttering and relinquishing a significant proportion of your material possessions. Then as you fell further down the Youtube rabbit hole, you may have realised that for some, minimalism is more than the act of simply downsizing possessions.

The more I discover about minimalism the more I realise it is a philosophy and lifestyle choice rather than simply lightening your material baggage. As I delve deeper I find that ideas that have sat idle in my mind or that I have been exposed to, but had chosen to bypass previously, suddenly seem drawn to the overarching idea of minimalism like the pull from a magnet. Examples include sustainable/eco living, recycling, environmentally friendly products, vegetarianism/veganism, natural skincare/no chemicals, animal friendly products, no waste living, ethically made clothing, mindfulness, conscious living, meditation/yoga, financial responsibility, saving money, frugal living, life hacks, changing habits and finding joy and happiness.

While all these ideas have been flying around in my head for a long time, they have never had an anchor until now. With minimalism, all these concepts are beginning to connect to form a holistic, tangible framework on how I want to live my life.

Upon closer inspection and contemplation I’ve also realised that all these ideas are simply a variation on the core concept of minimalism which is to simplify and pare back everything to the most essential. For example:

Essential Living:

No waste living, recycling, environmentally friendly products, sustainability, animal friendly products, ethically made clothing, natural skincare, no chemicals – these are all versions of products that have been stripped of the unnecessary packaging, testing and ingredients down to the core function, which is to nourish your body or support your life.

Essential Body:

Vegetarianism/Veganism is eliminating the need to slaughter animals for food when we can sustain ourselves on vegetables and fruit. This is also a way of focusing on the essential nutrients your body requires rather than on junk food or fast food.

Essential Mental & Spiritual Health

Mindfulness, conscious living, meditation/yoga, changing habits and finding joy are all about decreasing the unnecessary stress and mental clutter that inhabits our minds and hearts and to focus on the important things in life that being us happiness and improve our wellbeing.

Essential Finance

Financial responsibility, saving money, frugal living, life hacks – all ways to improve our finances and reduce the amount of money we waste on the unnecessary.

As these ideas gain a stronger foothold in my mind, I find I am beginning to make small changes in my life, for the better, which goes beyond simply throwing out my possessions.