My no-spend January is going pretty well. I have transgressed (of course!!) – I went to the cinema and had a meal out (in my defence, it was a social occasion and being with friends is good, right?). I also bought some art supplies, but technically that’s ok as I used a Christmas voucher. All being said, the project is doing exactly what I intended it to do. It is making my spending conscious and intentional.
I have had many temptations!! Apart from the endless cafe lattes that I now realise were haemorrhaging cash, there were things like an online writing course that I NEEDed to do… books I needed to read and CDs I needed to hear. But what I do now is add them to a list and put them off ‘for now’. After a while I’m sure the so-called need will die down to a ‘want’ and finally expire as an ‘unnecessary expense’. Having this system allows me to work out what is really important to me.
I have learned that in not automatically buying the next attractive bit of stationery I see means that I use up what I already have. (And believe me I have plenty). The same goes for yarn and other craft supplies. I’ve also learned that the occasional cafe latte is ok because it is part of a social interaction, which is good for mental health and wellbeing. (And it’s not fair to expect my friends to sub me a drink ad infinitum.)
When you start to put your spending uder a spotlight you begin to notice the ways that you are encouraged and lured by advertisements. They are everywhere, especially on places like Instagram which tailor the ads based on your likes. (This was how the writing course found me). I don’t know about you, but I am getting sick of it. Do you remember the film How to Get A Head in Advertising ? It has Richard E Grant as an advertising exec going into meltdown over his failure to come up with a campaign to advertise pimple cream. It is very funny – but the themes of avarice and deception are as relevant today as they have ever been. For more about how advertisers work, check out this video by Derren Brown. Then check out Paranoia 1.0, for a glimpse of a dystopian future where advertisers get into our own bodies via nano-mites inside the food we eat!
But you can outsmart the advertisers by being intentional about your time – choosing to spend it away from their grasp. That means less phone time and more time doing things away from TV screens and computers – like hanging out with friends, crafts, reading and sports. A walk in Nature is a great antidote…
With my no spend January I never set out to stop buying things forever, just to make myself more aware of what I was doing. Part of living an intentional life is knowing where you are spending your money – and your time (for many of us, this is more precious than money). It’s been so insightful so far that I’m thinking of rolling it out into the rest of the year.
Do you think I can do it? Have you tried it? Your thoughts and comments are always welcome.
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