#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 Challenge

#nospendnovember challenge

#NoSpendNovember Challenge

Why am I doing this?

Because I’m a glutton for punishment.

I’m just kidding – sort of.

Looking forward to the holidays, I always end up feeling a bit overwhelmed. There is so much do to, bake, see, and BUY. Between gifts, baking extra goodies, sending out holiday cards, parties, buying an extra pair of gloves (I lose mine all the time), and all the extra coffees while I’m out shopping, it adds up. There is also so much pressure to “keep up” with everyone else during the holidays.

I doubt I’m alone in this. Many of us feel financial fatigue come January, which is a terrible way to start off the new year. This year, I’m trying to cut out at least some of the holiday spending – especially in November. I find that if I only give myself a short window to holiday shop, I can’t go overboard.

What are the ground rules?

While it would be ideal to go fully no-waste, 100% no-spending this month, that’s not realistic for me. I need to eat, after all! So instead of saying “don’t spend any money at all,” I’ve set some ground rules for myself this month:

Stay off of my Amazon account

Amazon is the devil for impulse spending. It’s so easy to go on there to order more moisturizer, and end up with a $100 order of god-only-knows-what. I have to use Amazon for my job, but I’m determined not to log into my actual account, so it’s less tempting to shop while I should be working.

Unsubscribe From Marketing Emails

Another project I have set for this month is to clear out my inboxes of marketing-heavy emails. I’ve signed up for way too many newsletters and product affiliate email chains over the past year. Now my inbox is flooded with ads, coupons, and other super-tempting marketing messages. Instead of hopping on Nasty Gal to dream of clothes I’m 10 years too old to pull off, I gotta hit the unsubscribe button.

no Beauty-Related Purchases

You have enough of that shit, Heather. Use what you’ve got.

I know I’m not alone in this one, either. I don’t need a dozen different lipsticks – I barely wear it anyway. So for this month, I’m determined to use what I have and hopefully fall back in love with some old favorites. I also got some new samples this month to try out, and I’ll save those for days when I’m dying to go to Ulta!

Do More DIY Projects

I have a few sitting around the house I haven’t started yet. Instead of shopping online for the perfect pair of loafers, I plan to spend the month on getting things done around the house. This should be easy to pull off without spending any extra!

Sell Some of Your Shit

I signed up with ThredUp recently, and hope to donate/sell some of my summer clothes I didn’t wear this year. My hope is to use that money to update my winter wardrobe without spending a dime this month!

There are exceptions

There is no way I can survive November without spending any money. So to make things more manageable and realistic, I’m allowing myself a few exceptions:

  • One day each week, I get to have a coffee at my local cafe during my “work out of the house day.” Working at home every day is not good for my sanity, so I consider this a “work necessity.”
  • Limit “extra” grocery trips to once a week. Instead of going every other day for extra ingredients for dinner or whatever, I need to plan better so I don’t have to do this.
  • Black Friday / Cyber Monday is going to be a “cheat day” for me. I do plan to get a holiday gift list ready to go, so all I have to do is pop online and buy whatever I need to. No extra spending on myself – only for others!

What are my goals for #NoSpendNovember?

Taking on a no-spending challenge sounds daunting for me, but I hope it’ll feel worth it at the end! There are a few things I’m hoping to take away from this experience:

More Money at the end of the month (duh)

Of course, the idea behind this is to have a little extra money at the end of the month that I can put towards bills, holiday stuff, or just to toss in my savings account and leave it be. The idea is to be able to enjoy the holidays without worrying about my bank account so much.

Combatting boredom spending

Yeah…I go shopping when I’m bored. Sue me. This month I’m hoping to break the cycle of going out shopping when I’m bored or need a break. Working from home is great, but sometimes being cooped up at home for too long drives me nuts. So for this month, I will try to find no-cost alternatives to shopping when I’m dying for something to do. Look out for a post on that soon!

Make use of what I already have

I’m super guilty of wanting to buy things instead of looking to see if I already have them. Do I need another throw blanket? Candles? Another pretty notebook? No…I have plenty of that shit. I also have things in my closet that I don’t wear because I need to fix them, home decor projects I just need to get done, and more bottles of shampoo than is reasonable. Instead of going through a de-cluttering rampage in January, I want to use up what I have so there is less to deal with in the first place.

Whew! That’s a lot to take in for the coming month!

Come back here every Monday this month for some #NoSpendNovember challenge ideas! I’ll also be sharing my ideas on Instagram (check out for the hashtag #NoSpendNovember!)

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