Simple Living

The No Spend Year

I love making New Year’s Resolutions and every year I try to come up with a challenge for myself or a plan for what I want to accomplish in the new year. Sometimes I have broad goals like “camp more,” and sometimes I set very specific goals like “hike 300 miles.” I’ve been thinking about what I want to do for 2020, and I wanted something very big and very specific.

I’ve been feeling very discontent lately, in a way that’s hard to explain. Christmas is always a hard time, believe it or not. It’s hard to balance the true meaning of Christmas with the consumerism that has overtaken it in our culture. Every year I end up wondering if I did a good enough job at transmitting the wonder of the Incarnation, the tiny King in the manger, Emmanuel, God with us, and if my kids are going to grow up and hold onto their faith. I hope they remember more than the toys.

I’ve also been feeling burdened by my stuff lately. I consider myself something of a minimalist, because I’m less materialistic than a lot of people, but I still have a lot of stuff. I have a whole lot of camping gear, piles upon piles of horse tack, and all kinds of outdoor gear- bikes, kayaks, skateboards, etc… I do use most of it, but I’ve noticed lately that I still do a lot of wanting. I see cool camping gear and I want it, or I think of some horse accessory and I feel like I need it, even though I’ve made it this far just fine without it. When I look around my house, I see a lot of stuff, so maybe my claim to minimalism is a bit false.

I would like some way to break the cycle of wanting and then getting and then wanting again, so I’ve decided that 2020 is going to be a No Buy Year, meaning that I won’t buy anything I don’t absolutely need. There are lots of blogs and YouTube videos about this, and people set different rules for themselves, but I’ve come up with my own.

I won’t buy anything I don’t need- no trips to the thrift store just to see what’s there, no new clothes, no new books, no new camping gadgets, no new horse tack. If I don’t need it, I won’t buy it.

I am allowing myself to buy necessities like groceries, toilet paper, and things I personally deem essential, like eyeliner. I do have to look nice at work. If something breaks or wears out, I will replace it. An example would be the running shoes or scrubs I have to wear to work. What I’m cutting out is the fun buying, the impulse buying, the buying because I’m bored.

I haven’t exactly figured out what to do about buying for my kids. I think I’ll limit my spending on them to birthdays and Christmas. I don’t mind spending money on experiences, like paying for a campsite or going to a museum. What I would like to cut down on is the need for something new every so often just for the heck of it, that impulse to satisfy my kids’ every whim.

I am allowing myself one exception to the fun buying and that is my spring garden. I have plans to turn a sunny part of my backyard into a container garden, and I will need to buy containers. If I can find them free or cheap, that’s great, but they do need to look nice because my husband and my neighbors don’t want a redneck extravaganza in my backyard. I will also buy seeds. Other than that, I don’t have plans to buy anything next year.

I want to have a year of being thankful for what I already have, and using the things I’ve already bought. I don’t expect this to be very difficult, because I feel like I’m not a big spender anyway, but I’m curious to see how if affects me. Maybe I’m more of a materialist than I think!

One thought on “The No Spend Year

  1. A scene in the excellent film, Molokai, in which a young priest confesses every little imperfection, his Superior says: “Damien, Damien, don’t be so hard on yourself”. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Enjoy a treat once in a while. Buy a trinket at a junk shop. Maybe, even take the kiddies into an “antique” shop and let them spend 2-5 dollars in finding a “real treasure”. Everything will be o.k.
    Happy New Year,

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