Time really does fly by, and somehow, my 30 Day Spending Challenge is already over. As I mentioned one week in, I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting, but I found the experience easier than I thought it might have been, and definitely a rewarding one.
One of my biggest challenges throughout this process has been altering my mindset when it comes to rewarding myself. I’m a goal-oriented person, and I also believe in rewarding yourself for a job well done. The problem is, that often means spending money, whether it’s taking yourself out for a nice dinner, buying a bouquet of fresh flowers, or treating yourself to that new dress you’ve been eyeing. Don’t get me wrong, I still think it’s important to set up a reward system for yourself, but once I took on this challenge it became clear to me that I needed to figure out new ways to do so, ways that didn’t involve spending money. I've started to challenge myself to enjoy the journey and the process instead of always focusing on the reward.
At the beginning of this challenge, I identified that it was important to me to focus on decluttering, donating and repurposing what I already own, and that process in and of itself has been rewarding. There is something so satisfying about finally wading through that pile of papers that have been waiting to be filed for months, or starting to tackle the boxes that have been stacked in the corner for way too long, or getting rid of those pieces in your closet that you're never going to wear again. Little by little, I'm simplifying my life and my possessions, and that is such an incredible feeling.
One part of the challenge that I’ve found the hardest it that it’s hard to avoid letting it impact your social life. You have to get creative with activities that don’t involve spending a lot of money, and be open and honest about what you’re going through, which allows you to avoid those awkward conversations or curious looks when you make excuses not to partake in an outing, or suggest going somewhere a little more budget-friendly. Skip the drink when you’re out for a meal, or meet for just a coffee or a drink instead.
One thing that I’ve really learned is that this exercise really makes you think about what’s the most important to you, as you’re forced to choose between various activities and purchases and you automatically begin prioritizing between them. If I’ve decided to treat myself to one meal a week, for example, I tend to spend all week planning (ok, maybe even obsessing) over where I’m going to go, making it all the more exciting and rewarding when the time comes.
I've actually decided to do the challenge for another 30 days, being a little bit more relaxed with it but essentially following the same rules and being really conscious of what I'm spending my money on. I figure to really break a habit, 60 days is more realistic. The whole purpose of this when I first set out was to reset the way I think about money, to lead a more simple life without such a focus on accumulating things, and to appreciate what I have.
And in case you were wondering what some of the hardest things I've had to say no to are, I've put together a quick list: jam from Kitten and the Bear, paint and DIY supplies, truffle salt, fresh flowers, a new dog leash for Nico, plants for the patio, and getting my hair done. Nothing essential, nothing I couldn't live without, just little things that usually, I wouldn't even hesitate to buy.