#NoSpendNovember: Reflections + Lessons Learned

#NoSpendNovember

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As the #NoSpendNovember challenge comes to an end, I thought it would be a good idea to reflect on the past month. It was a learning experience for sure, and I plan to take some of the lessons I learned with me. Here’s a quick and easy breakdown of how things went!

How did I feel throughout the month?

I went into #NoSpendNovember a little anxious, to be honest. I know that I tend to shop when I’m bored, and wanted to break myself of that. For the first week or so, it was tough. Work wasn’t terribly busy, and the weather sucked, so it was hard to re-route my brain when I got bored. To combat this, I spent time at the library, walking outside, and cleaning. None of this is very exciting, but it got me through.

As the month went on, it got easier. The job I had that required going on Amazon ended, so that temptation was gone. I focused on writing for the blog more, exercised more, and got more work done. Instead of going to Target, I went outside for some fresh air. By the end of the month, I now feel like I have a better handle on things.

How much did I save?

I’ll be honest here – I don’t know exactly how much I didn’t spend because…I didn’t spend it. My spending habits aren’t very consistent, and since I work freelance, my paychecks aren’t either. I’d say a safe prediction is about $200 over the past month, which isn’t a lot – but it’s something. I also didn’t work as much as I usually do, so I know it would’ve been a lot more if I had a regular schedule.

Did I ever break my #NoSpendNovember rules?

I did a lot better with this than I was expecting to! Here is how I did with each “rule” I set for #NoSpendNovember:

Stay off my Amazon account

I would say I behaved about 80% of the time. I did have to use Amazon for a copywriting gig, but once that ended, it wasn’t too hard to avoid it. This past week, I only went on a couple times to check for Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals.

Unsubscribe from marketing emails

I’ve unsubscribed from as many marketing email chains as I could this month. I’d say I’ve gotten off around a dozen or so, and I’m continuing to do this as the month goes on. There are so many on my personal and blog emails that I just don’t use anymore, and it feels good to get rid of them. My inbox is much happier!

No beauty-related purchases

I happily achieved 100% success on this one! I didn’t buy a single beauty-related thing this month! To help with this, I took my own advice and used my stash, and found that what I have is definitely plenty. I plan to continue this for December, then I’ll probably be due to stock up on some essentials (shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, etc.).

Do more DIY projects

Okay, so I fell short on this one. I didn’t get any DIY projects done this month, but I plan to do them in December instead.

Sell some of your shit

I had ThredUp send me a cleanout kit this month, which I’ll fill up with clothing I want to sell through their site. I’ll consider this a success if I can get my bag filled and mailed out this week!

Once a week coffee day / One grocery trip / Black Friday exceptions

I did pretty well on sticking to only the exceptions I made for myself. The weekly coffee shop trips were productive, and I only made a couple extra grocery trips. I didn’t shop at all on Black Friday, but I may pick up a few things online for Cyber Monday.

The only time I truly broke with the #NoSpendNovember challenge was to buy a sweater and dress shoes for a Thanksgiving party we were invited to last-minute. I don’t own “party” clothes, so I let myself off the hook this once. It only cost me $40 for both (thanks to Marshalls!), and the rest of my outfit was stuff I already own, so it wasn’t too bad.

What did I learn?

I learned that challenging myself to spend less during the holiday season is ROUGH. This would have been so much easier to do in August or September! But I guess that’s the point of making it a challenge, right?

I also learned that so much of my “extra” spending has to do with boredom. Replacing those bad habits with good ones really worked, and I hope to keep it up!

What will I take with me moving forward?

I plan to do this challenge more often in the future, but instead of a whole month at a time, I might do one week every month instead. This seems a bit more manageable for me. By the end of the year, I will have done 3 months with no spending, rather than just one month!

I also want to focus more purchasing things I truly love, rather than what “works” at the time. Over the next few months, I’m planning to really purge my life of things I don’t love or need. It’s time for me to let go of jeans that don’t fit, notebooks I never use, and kitchen junk I have no space for. This challenge put me on a path to simplify my life. I can’t wait to put it into practice!

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#NoSpendNovember: Reading Tips

#NoSpendNovember Reading Tips

Reading is one part of my life that’s easy to adjust to the #NoSpendNovember challenge. I don’t buy books very often, and have given up reading magazines for the most part. Plus, there are so many ways to get your reading fix for free!

I’ll admit that it might be easier for me to do this because I don’t re-read books. It doesn’t make sense for me to buy a book I’m only going to read once. The only time I prefer to buy a book is when I go on vacation – no stress over leaving it in an airport/hotel, or destroying it while reading on the beach.

If you’re a bookworm on a budget like me, here are some ways you can read for little to no cost!

#NoSpendNovember: Reading Tips!

Tip #1: Use your local library!

If you haven’t been to your local library lately (or ever), they’re worth checking out! Most public libraries now have a lot more than books. My library system has print books, electronic books, magazine subscriptions, along with digital movies, television shows, and more! If you have a tablet, your library probably as access to apps like OverDrive for digital books, or Zinio for magazines. I prefer to read magazines this way (they subscribe to pretty much anything I would already buy), and I’m currently in the middle of reading What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding on my iPad.

Tip #2: Use your stash!

Many of us buy books with the intention of reading them, only to put them on the bookshelf and forget they exist. Instead of buying a new book, see if you have any books at home you haven’t read yet! I own fewer than 20 books, but I know there are at least 2 on my shelf I haven’t gotten to yet. So at least for November, I can work on those before buying something new next month!

Tip #3: Host a book swap!

I don’t know why more people don’t do this, to be honest! Many of us have friends or family who also read a lot, and why not give your old books a new home? In exchange, you’ll also go home with a stack of new reads for free! Tell your friends to bring a few books they no longer need, and have a swap meet!

Tip #4: Download a free book app!

If you’re a fan of reading classical literature, definitely check out the Free Books app on iTunes. I’ve had this app for several years, and though it’s not perfect, they do have hundreds of public-domain classics you can read for free! You can also check out other free reading apps for just about any device – your phone, tablet, or reading device like Nook or Kindle will even have free books to download.

 

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Welcome to November!

welcome to november

Photo by Alex Geerts on Unsplash

Welcome to November!

As we race ahead to the holiday season, I’m excited to bring you some fun posts this month! In addition to some Thanksgiving-themed posts, I’m also challenging myself to a #NoSpendNovember. Look for posts every Monday that will (hopefully) motivate us all to spend a little less, ideas for fun and free things to do, and budget DIYs to spruce up your life without spending anything…or at least not so much! December always ends up being such a budget blowout for many of us. Taking a month off of spending on frivolous stuff will help us clear our minds, closets, and maybe even beef up our bank accounts!

This month, I’ll also be working with a few brands to help promote products I’ve been loving lately that also won’t break the bank (when you get back to spending up a storm in December). Black Friday and Cyber Monday are also coming up this month, and I’ll be sharing my favorite online deals that you can take advantage of – don’t worry…I’ll probably break my “no spending” rule that day too. Gotta get those gifts early and super on sale, right?

Today is also #WorldVeganDay! While eating all that discounted Halloween candy, here are a few of my favorite vegan recipes to whip up for dinner tonight!

Acorn Squash and Black Bean Empanandas (from Veganomicon)

Superfood Vegan Mac ‘n’ Cheese (from Goop)

Homemade Falafel + Cucumber Dressing (from A Beautiful Mess
*The dressing isn’t vegan, but you could easily substitute vegan sour cream!

The Best Vegan Apple Crisp (from Minimalist Baker)

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