Every month I try to set a goal for myself. Many times they are fitness or health goals. This month I chose a financial goal that will help to create better health, mentally and physically, during this challenging time in history. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused changed and chaos for so many people. We just don’t know how things are going to go this fall. Who will have jobs, who won’t? What will be open, what will close again? Will I, or a family member become ill? How will we deal with that? How will this affect us financially? As I watch people struggle with illness, closures, slow to pay unemployment systems and a lack of a financial safety net, I thought this was a good month to do this challenge…
When you first read that title it sounds a little scary, and unmanageable doesn’t it? How in the world, can one go an entire month and buy nothing? Let’s look a little closer at the plan for this scary July goal.
We have done this one before and it really isn’t as difficult as it sounds. We allow ourselves some basic things, mostly consumables. We can buy food, toothpaste, toilet paper and dish soap for example. We can’t buy a new car, TV, furniture or other things that we may be able to use what we have, barter for or fix. It forces us to think outside the box a little, but it can be an extremely fun challenge!
This challenge came up because I have been living at our cabin in the woods much of the summer. I am loving the simplicity of this life from several perspectives. I enjoy the peace and quiet and the ability to get tons of work done in a day, uninterrupted. I have completed tasks that at home or in an office would take days, but here I can finish in mere hours! I love the ability to put on running clothes and slip out the door on a whim. In June, I have logged 143.5 miles and I still have two days left! Lots of hills, birds, frogs and other wildlife have crossed my path this month. I have had a great deal of time to think and ponder life as I run and walk.
The one thing that keeps coming up is how happy I have been with less stuff. Yesterday, my husband pulled up in the truck with an old ringer washer in the back! I was so excited I could hardly stand it! Yes, a ringer washer made my day. How times have changed as I have gotten older. I don’t have many of the things one thinks create happiness. No dishwasher or clothes dryer. Just a sink and a clothesline!
Since paying off our last bit of debt earlier this year, I have come to cherish the peace of knowing that I don’t have to work as much as I had been. I can take time off and spend it doing the things I enjoy, rather than worrying about a house or car payment. They no longer exist, and it has taken so much anxiety out of my life.
Had I known how good this would feel 20 years ago, I would have skipped a few things. (But then we all learn from our mistakes right?) I would have passed on thinking I needed a bigger, better, newer house and I would have stayed in the one I could afford that kept me warm and comfortable. I would have saved up my 6 months worth of living expenses a long time ago, giving me the space to not have to worry about things like a pandemic taking away my income, staying at a job I hated so I could pay my bills, or an illness causing financial strain. I would have worked harder at deferring gratification to save for the things I wanted, rather than borrowing more money to have what I perceived to deserve.
Ah, that brings us back to NO BUY JULY!! I believe we have everything we need. I plan to spend 31 days buying only consumables, and being frugal in those purchases as well. We want to eat well, but be mindful of waste. We want to be comfortable, but at the same time, aware of how each expense affects our future. We want to live life to our fullest this month, securing the ability to make decisions based on what makes us healthy and happy, rather than based on what we need to pay the bills on the things society tells us will make us happy. Follow me on the journey!