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Photo Credit: Cat Sidh Flickr via Compfight cc

I’ve been previewing a new book by Erin Odom (check out the preorder deals here), and it has inspired me to take a big step, one I’ve been wanting to take for a while. Last week officially began our family’s first ever No Spend Month. We defined what those terms will mean for us. Predominantly it means unless we have to, we don’t buy stuff. This is forcing us to ask what is really essential and decide if some of our various expenses are worth it.

We aren’t canceling any subscriptions but I am delaying purchasing a few things that aren’t entirely essential right now. If any emergencies come up, obviously we will deal with them. (For example: we had to pay to have a plumber come out and fix a leaky faucet that my husband had already spent two weeks on and off trying to fix. ) But we won’t be doing any outings that cost money and we are trying to keep our grocery shopping to the essentials only and attempting to get creative with what is in our freezer and pantry. (Hopefully I’ll be talking later this month about how the Pantry Challenge is going.) I will still be taking my kids to all of their necessary appointments and no one will be going without food or medical care.

Why Am I Doing This?

Because our financial situation is better than it has been in a long time, however, we are still carrying student loan debt that we’d like to be free of. After years of living very frugally we’ve given ourselves a bit more freedom with our spending. But I want to reevaluate whether our current buying patterns are really how we want to spend our money.

I’m also likening it to a fast. When we fast, it is to teach ourselves that we don’t have to have what we want whenever we want it. A little bit of voluntary self-denial can be healthy. I’m hoping that that satisfaction of paying down debt and building our savings account is more fulfilling.

I’ve been keeping a list of things I’m deliberately saying no to, so at the end of the month I can review it and see if I feel like I missed out on anything, and how much spending I didn’t do.

Last Monday, as I dropped my big kids off at VBS, a couple friends invited me to go to Panera and then Target with our remaining toddlers. I was going to say no. But one friend offered to treat me to a coffee, so I decided to go just to hang out. I’m glad I went, but I’m also glad I was on spending freeze.

I was able to enjoy the social aspect of walking through Target with friends without having to debate over impulse purchases. Since I knew the answer was no, it actually gave me the freedom to admire something and remind myself that my life was just as happy before I knew it existed.

I’m also lucky enough to have friends who support me in my attempts to prayerful reconsider my spending. It is so important when you are trying to make positive changes in your life that you surround yourself with positive supporters. They don’t necessarily have to be sharing in your choices, but good friends should be able to support you and at least not sabotage you!

I’m hoping that at the end of the month I can report back with some positive news, or at least a healthier bank account, even if I don’t always enjoy the process. Self-denial is rarely fun but it is very revealing of where our values are.