What buying only what we needed for a whole month taught me

No Spend August. How I went a whole month buying only the necessities | Luxuriously Thrifty

I asked my husband what he wanted for his birthday and being the cheeky little bastard that he is, he said for me to stop spending money (if my blog is called Luxuriously Thrifty, his would be Cheaply Scottish). Now, my money spending habits aren’t out of control, but after making the switch to full-time freelancing and not getting a regular paycheque every two weeks, we had to re-look at the budget. While not going to an office meant that I wouldn’t be spending much money on gas, parking, bus fare or any impromptu I-forgot-my-lunch lunches with co-workers, I would still be picking up cute items for the home that we ‘needed’ (on sale, of course).

So, after laughing, I thought about his request for a few days and decided that I could do it. I initially thought of doing it until December 31st, with our two trips and Christmas presents exempt from the No Spending rule. But, then I thought about how long that would be and how I’d eventually crack. I didn’t want to crack, especially when it was a battle between me and my husband. I decided on the whole month of August as my No Spending month. I would buy our groceries and what-nots that we needed for the house, but nothing more.

Horrifingly, this meant no more Starbucks, and no extra plants for our house. It definitely meant no more throw pillows. I love all three of those things. It also meant that my book budget (and occassional magazine) was cut down to barely anything. Who can only spend $20/month on books?! (I know, I know, get a library card) Looked like the clearance section of Indigo/Chapters would be my go-to for the next month. Honestly, the clearance section isn’t really a bad thing; you can find some amazing books in there for only a few bucks!

I’m writing this halfway through August, the month of No Spending, and I’m feeling…fine. I’ve only been getting my shopping addiction out through grocery shopping and buying the few things we need for our trip like reef-safe sunscreen, foundation, desperately needed shorts for my husband and a new deodorant after my Lush one turned out to be a bit too harsh for my pits. (Lush worked amazingly, though, if baking soda doesn’t bother your skin, give the bar deodorant a try!) It may seem like cheating, and doing the No Spending during a different month may have resulted in a different take and more saving, but I’m being more mindful about our purchases. There aren’t any purchases that aren’t needed, even if they seem trivial like shorts and foundation.

I’m jonesing for some new notebooks and Sprout pencils as mine are nearly full and almost completely used. But, I don’t really need them. I’ve tons of notebooks with a couple of pages blank, I’ve paper galore, I’ve mounds of pens I’ve stolen from offices and hotels over the years. I don’t need either of these things. I just want them. I want the cute notebooks and the pencils that turn into herbs or flowers, but they’re not going to make me a better writer. Sitting down and writing, day after day will. It doesn’t really matter what I write on, as long as I do.

So, I’m waiting, patiently and impatiently for September to come. But, instead of going crazy as I normally would when withholding something, I now only feel like buying what is needed/severely wanted. I’ll buy those notebooks and pencils come September, but I’ll still continue to use the rest of them until I cannot anymore. I’ll buy a couple more plants for the pots that didn’t turn out, but I don’t need to buy 10. I’ll add some more home decor or throw pillows or a fun shade of lipstick to my cart every so often, but as a treat to myself instead of a regular purchase.

There is so much that we can live without, but think we can’t. We’ve chosen this way of thinking, this way of living. The quote by Thomas Jefferson: “I cannot live without books” is extremely relevant to myself, causing a lot of my spending, but I can re-read favourites more often. I can buy more from book drives where you can get an entire box of romance novels on the cheap. An. Entire. Box. I could get a damn library card again and see what’s happening in those buildings, if they’re still alive and kicking. I know I probably won’t do the last one, but I’ll think about it for a while.

Changing our way of thinking and relationship with spending takes time, and definitely a few oopsies, but eventually, our mindset changes.

I’m a hoarder of sorts and I love to keep anything useful. It’s how I get a lot of my DIY’s done. Some people would look at the big pile of wood behind the shed and simply haul it away. I look at it as money saved. I can build a bench out of mostly relcaimed wood (done). I can build a tiny bench for my cats to reach the bed (done). I can use the scraps for cute kitchen signs (done) and build a plant stand out of reclaimed wood and samples.

I can fix up my dining room table so that it matches my decor, instead of throwing it away and buying new. I’ve done this. I can turn old chunks of wood and old dining room chairs into plant stands. I’ve done this, too.

Somehow, even though I’ve used up a lot of scraps around the house, fixing and updating as needed, and even though I’ll continue to do so, I still want to buy. I want the most beautiful, the cutest, the trendy. Classic has always worked, will always work. It’s my basic that is found under a few trendy pieces. The pearl earrings, the polished heels, the loafers that will always, always be in style.

Yes, sometimes you need to splurge a little. It’s fun, it makes you excited, and I still look at my copper canisters with a smile on my face. These were bought in anger, in the spur of the moment. A mouse had gotten into my sugar and my flour and I decided enough was enough. So, I bought a shelf from IKEA and hightailed it to Home Sense to pick out some canisters. Now, it’s one of my favourites in my kitchen/dining and mice can’t get to my goods.

Sometimes that kind of shopping is needed. But, when that happens every so often, there’s no guilt. It’s a job well done and a pat on the back.

We all need to take a second to think about what we’re buying, not only about where it’s coming from (factory in China or locally made?), but also how long it’ll last and if we really need it in our house. Maybe then we’ll start to beat materialism. Everything in moderation, right?

*update: I’ve made it through the month and feel great. I’m going to do another No Spend month in the New Year just to do a little financial cleanse. The hardest was plans with friends, but plans can easily be changed to something very cheap or free!

No Spend August. How I went a whole month buying only the necessities | Luxuriously Thrifty

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