Freckles in April: 4 Things I Learned from Our 6 Month Spending Fast

Monday, January 7, 2019

4 Things I Learned from Our 6 Month Spending Fast

Picture from our summer trip to the redwoods

In 2018 I set a resolution to go on a spending fast. I wrote:

Every time we go through our finances we cringe a little at how much money we spend. I decided (and made everyone else get on board) that for 6 months we are only going to buy things we have consumed or used up and need to replace. I want us to think a lot harder every time we reach for our credit cards. Plus this will allow us to save up for a summer trip we're trying to plan.

I was initially inspired by Miranda's More Than Enough Stuff experiment but Christmas 2017 was bonkers and I just felt overwhelmed by our family's consumerism. I knew six months of not buying new junk wouldn't hurt us.

Aaron forgot about his commitment to the idea almost immediately (if you were married to him you would not be remotely surprised by this). What was supposed to be a family goal ended up just being a Kayla goal. It became a test of my endurance and commitment and I'm proud to say that I mostly stuck with it and learned some really interesting lessons along the way.

1. Sometimes online window shopping scratches the itch

Right off the bat I realized I have a bit of a shopping compulsion. Checking my fav sites for sales or new items was such a big part of my routine that I seriously struggled to stop myself from looking. I assumed that looking would lead to buying and then I'd have lost the battle. But! I was wrong. Looking (and even adding items to my cart) didn't lead to buying. It just allowed me to look at and dream about pretty things without spending any money. Then I'd close my browser window and move on with my life with that same sense of satisfaction.

2. That feeling of NEEEED fades faster than you'd think

Early on I decided that I would ask for gift cards for my birthday to buy some of the things that I was dyyying over. It was my loophole. I made a private Pinterest board and used it to keep track of all the things that I would have immediately bought for myself if I hadn't been on a spending fast. But when my birthday rolled around and I looked at my Pinterest board I realized I didn't particularly want or need anything on there anymore.

That was a huge light bulb moment for me. So many of my purchases are made on the basis of instant gratification. Putting items on a Pinterest board and coming back to them later has given me a better perspective as to what I actually want versus what makes me feel good in the moment. I've started really dragging my feet when I buy things for myself. I just barely pulled the trigger on the Everlane wrap dress I've wanted for months. I wanted to make sure my excitement about it didn't fade before I spent the money.

3. Things wear out fast

I thought our shopping would drastically drop off but, as it turns out, we go through stuff really quickly. We're a fairly active family and our shoes do not last long. My kids are growing and speeding through clothes so quickly I can't keep up (I finally got StitchFix boxes for my boys. LIFE CHANGING. I'm planning to write about it). I cook a lot and occasionally ruin clothing. I was surprised how often I still had to buy shoes or replace clothing (I did make efforts at repair!). This actually made me feel a lot better about my previous shopping habits- some of it was definitely unnecessary but plenty of it was replacing the things that a very busy and active family wears through.

4. Buying things is SO MUCH FUN when you're not buying much

A few months in I managed to wear holes through one of my very favorite tank tops that I wear all the time. In the spirit of my resolution I replaced it with essentially the same thing- same brand, color, and a very similar style (the original was no longer available). Placing that order and waiting for the package to arrive was SO EXCITING. Even though the item itself wasn't novel (almost the exact same as the one I had before!) I could. not. wait. It had been months since I had the chance to anticipate something coming for me in the mail. When the shirt arrived I felt deeply satisfied. The whole experience was so different from what I'd been experiencing before, which was more or less like, "Wait that package is for me? What did I even order??"

Replacement tank top in action while looking through antique shops with friends in June

After six months of extremely limited spending I thought I'd go a little wild but mercifully that wasn't the case. I did buy a few things but, because I had spent 6 months thinking about what I really wanted, the things I got were deeply wanted and appreciated. Those habits have carried over (mostly. I'm not perfect). I sit on things for a while before I buy. If something arrives and I don't LOVE it then I return it. I really enjoy receiving the odd package in the mail. I generally feel more content with my possessions.

So in a year that didn't go quite the way I wanted, I'm grateful that one of my resolutions worked out really well for me and gave me a chance to learn and grow!

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  1. I want to do this. I love the tip about the secret Pinterest board. That is going to be the key to my success!

  2. Hey, you! I just got re-acquainted with Feedly and was like, "What what? Kayla is blogging? Well happy Friday to ME." Also, I love your 6 month fast. I've been torn between "I want to buy things for the house" and "I want to travel" for the last little while. Maybe something like this would help me.


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