Friday, August 1, 2014

Starving the monster

Three years ago a friend of mine, Sarah, went on a year-long spending fast. I was blown away and inspired, but I never got around to doing it myself. Two years ago, inspired by Sarah, our Pastor, Carey, did the same thing. This summer, Carey spoke about it at church in a series called Starve the Monster, all about entitlement and challenged us to try it for ourselves, whether it be for a week, a month or a year.

After 3 years of thinking about it, I'm ready to act and AJ is on board to embark on this challenge with me.

So today is day 1 of a 9-month spending fast. Not quite a year, but a pretty daunting amount of time.

Why are we doing this?

This is not because are church has told us we have to or we think it's the holy thing to do. It's not about saving money, although I hope that's a nice bonus. For me, there are 4 main reasons I've wanted to do this, ever since Sarah talked about it.

1) We have so much stuff. It just happens. We're not hoarders by any means, but we have more than we need and don't need to add to it.

2) Appreciating things more. I want something, I buy it, I enjoy it: sometimes for a while, sometimes for an embarrassingly short time. I'd like to pay more attention to the things already have that work just fine instead of just buying things on a whim.

3) Considering my purchases. This really goes with number two, but how many of the things I buy do I even really want that badly? If I abstained from buying that thing I want for a week, would I still be thinking about it a week later? For most things, the answer is probably no. I'd like to be more intentional about purchases and less quick to pull out my debit card.

4) Battling entitlement. I never thought about it in those terms before this series at church, but I do feel entitled. I work hard at work so I deserve a couple new shirts or I had a bad day so I need an ice cream. I could and should be so much more thankful for the things I have and the things I'm able to have. And if I can be happy with less stuff, maybe I can afford to do more with my money – do more family activities, treat friends and family to a night out and give more away to great causes.

I think everyone deals with money in a different way and your reasons for a spending fast might differ from mine, but I think most people would agree that we all have too much stuff and aren't thankful enough for it.

So. The rules. We obviously are not planning to spend zero dollars for the next 9 months.

1) This spending fast does not apply to necessary expenses. Mortgage, utilities, car expenses, groceries - not affected. Although I do think we'll be a little more intentional about our grocery spend.

2) This spending fast does apply to discretionary money. Clothing, shoes, accessories, eating out, music downloads, etc. Yikes! (And no buying that stuff for AJ because he can't buy it for himself)

3) Gifts for others on special occasions are ok.

4) Spending gift cards is totally fine.

5) Spending on family/date experiences is ok, but we'll be more conscientious about our choices.

6) If we find there's something we truly need, try to buy second hand first.

So of course, Target just opened 5 minutes away from my work and I can't go shopping, but I'm excited to see what this little adventure teaches us. I imagine we'll both be very easy to buy for come Christmas.

I'll aim to post an update once a month or so. If you've ever thought about taking control of your discretionary spending and become a little more thankful, would you like to join me?


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