What I Learned From a 30 Day Spending Fast

With a cross country move, buying and furnishing a house, a trip to Hawaii, prepping for both our kids birthdays, Christmas gifts and excursions– I felt like I was spending like crazy. Quite literally, we spent tens of thousands of dollars in just a few months– all budgeted for, but I still felt like my spending was out of control.

I could feel consumerism sinking in more and more and the feeling of discontentment ever present.

I decided to take a complete break from spending for 30 days. I made the rule for myself that I could only buy groceries, gas and stocking stuffers for the month of December.

Here are a few things I learned:

  1. As cliche as it sounds, money does not buy happiness. I have a renewed sense of intentionality. I feel like this month has confirmed how much better life is when I practice delayed gratification. When buying so many things, the joy of a purchase usually loses its excitement within a few minutes. Contrast that with the times that I am focusing on buying less, I really savor the joy of each item. I love the anticipation of it and I want to take care of that thing so much more because I have been thinking about it for months.
  2. Even when you budget for something, there can be a point where you are spending too much. Up until this moment, I have been a believer that “as long as we budget for it, let’s splurge!” Which is true…to a point. I learned after this intense spending excursion, followed by not spending at all, that I like having limits. I like really thinking about it before I buy something and through that experience I enjoy all aspects of life so much more.
  3. Most things you think you want– you don’t. I know that is a bold statement but really. I can’t tell you how many things I thought I wanted (the list was seemingly never ending) that I now suddenly don’t even want. Just the simple act of saying “I am not buying anything this month and if I still want it on January 1st, I can buy it” has completely eliminated 90% of the things I had written on that mental shopping list.
  4. In order to be aligning your money values with your actual values, it is important to build in “reset” moments. I realized a big part of what was going on with my spending craze was that I wasn’t aligned with my values. I initially thought I was because I was spending on my family, a vacation with my husband, a new house and home decorating– all wonderful things and all things I love spending money on! BUT I was not aligned in my other values of minimalism, intentionality, gratitude, appreciation etc. Through this fast, I have learned that I need to build in conscious “reset” time to check in on how our spending is going and check how I am aligning with ALL of our values
  5. After this fast, you will most likely be much more open to changing your budget. After this fast, Dan and I had our end of the year discussion where we plan out our CAP budget for the next year. We reworked some of our budgeting categories (Increased our date budget and giving budget, added our monthly adventure category back in, lowered our home decor budget and grocery budget etc.) and through that process Dan and I were actually able to cut an additional $500 off our CAP that will now be going to our savings goals every month! And yet, still feel like we got a raise! (If you are unfamiliar with the CAP budget system, you can watch our free budgeting training here.) I don’t think I would have been as open to making the changes that we did, if I hadn’t realized where I actually enjoy spending intentional money and changing those things accordingly.

Overall, this has been such a good experiment for me and if I ever feel my spending is turning unintentional, I would definitely not object to doing another spending fast. Try it!

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