I wanted to write a little something about a challenge I’m undertaking in June as I'm pretty excited.To me it seems like a pretty basic challenge; the premise is that I’m not going to spend anything for the month that isn’t on food or petrol. Seems easy enough right?
I’ve done a couple of spending challenges in the past and recently I read an article by Paul Jarvis where he mentioned as a side note that he once did this challenge (food and gas) for 6 months and did so successfully. I love Paul Jarvis, he's a super interesting dude and this challenge really intrigued me.
At the start of last year I became very interested in the concept of minimalism and I’ve always felt that I had a strong desire to life more simply, save money and importantly not waste money on things I don’t actually want or need. In the past I’ve done a few challenges where I only spend £10 in a week. They were a lot of fun and good ways to test my resolve when it came to thinking about the value of my spending.
Why do a challenge that seems kind of negative?
For me I look around at all the possessions I have and generally think that I have everything I need. Generally the only things I need are food to survive, and petrol to allow myself to have adventures. At the moment I’m out of work and focusing on enjoying me time and so I’m more than happy to enter into a challenge that stops me spending unnecessarily. I'm pretty good at not wasting money but I'm happy to hold myself to a high standard for a time.
With any spending challenge there are some basic assumptions I make. I’m not advocating to not paying rent, council tax and leaving bills unpaid. There are basic expenses that people expect to have each month and those things I wouldn’t consider as part of the challenge (so bills and existing direct debits can stay).
A lot of people have said to me before that they’re sure they probably only spend money on food and petrol, but I’ve found in the past that there is a strong desire to buy lots of extra things, and challenges like these definitely become challenging as they progress and you have to tell yourself no. Often times it can be the small things that you forget about; buying a small trinket or spending on a starter you don't really want.
How is my challenge working exactly?
- I’m only spending on food and petrol throughout June. If this goes well I’ll look to extend it for an extra two months (I'm pretty certain I will try it for at least 3 months)
- I can spend on decorating my room and servicing my motorbike (mainly because these things are planned or just very important).
- Any existing monthly payments still stand (so I’m keeping my phone contract, Adobe CC and Spotify for example).
- If there are things I want then I will look to other ways to get those things.
Those are the basics of my challenge. Life goes on as normal but no spending on anything that isn’t food, petrol, motorbike servicing or redecorating my room. So this month won’t be a cheap one anyway. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be an opportunity to refocus my spending on things that matter and not being tempted by things that are unimportant.
I’m looking forward to the challenge. I feel like I'm pretty good at not buying stuff I don't need, but when I extend the challenge to 3 months I expect that will be tougher. I'm not sure how I'll act if a purchase comes along that seems really important, or really fun (a fomo kind of thing). I think I'll do some research and see if Paul speaks about how he handled sudden 'emergencies' or unexpected leisure fees.
Ultimately this type of challenge is aiming to add value to my life (whilst allowing me to save some money that would otherwise be wasted) and not take away all the important things. So often I think people overlook what they already have (I’m guilty of this) but when it comes to give them up or replace them you find you wish you had appreciated or looked after something more (my first motorbike is probably an example of this).
I think I’m done blathering on about budget. I'll report back how this has been going in a few weeks.
Happy ‘living the pauper life’ folks!