Welp, it looks like my blog is telling me it’s makeover makeover time already. I don’t know what happened, but a bunch of my images (and the links that go with ’em) have gone all wonky. So maybe I’ll attempt to fix that. Or maybe I’ll find a temporary alternative until February. Because I can’t hire someone to do a full overhaul yet.
We’re on a spending fast.
Since we implemented our first spending fast last August, I’ve heard several other people mention being on a spending FREEZE at one point or another. It seems pretty much the same as what we’re doing–no extraneous spending for x amount of time–although sometimes they are stricter with their outward cash flow. The more frequently I hear about spending freezes, though, the more I see two major differences between a freeze and a fast.
1) A freeze seems to be necessary. Money is tight, or you have a major expenditure coming up that you need to prepare for, or whatever the case may be. A fast, on the other hand, is totally voluntary. We are blessed to have enough for our needs and quite a few of our wants, and are still able to put a little away in savings each month. When we hold a spending fast, it is a conscious exercise in self-discipline. It’s good for us financially but we don’t need it to survive.
2) A freeze seems like a negative thing. That probably has something to do with it being necessary. Being told you can’t spend money because you just don’t have it is the worst. I know I hated being poor, and I wasn’t even that bad off compared to many. Weirdly enough, though, I look forward to our fasting months as a positive thing. Let me explain.
I like to compare these months to the monthly fast we observe as part of our faith. For two meals, we abstain from food and drink, and we donate the money we would have spent on eating to a fund to help those in need. We try to focus on spiritual things rather than physical ones, practice self-mastery, and show gratitude for our blessings by sharing them with others.
I haven’t truly fasted in over three years, since I’ve been pregnant and/or breastfeeding for that long. But, when I remember (because let’s be honest, I forget that it’s Fast Sunday almost every month), I try to observe the spirit of the fast through selfless thoughts and actions. It’s hard. Denying yourself and turning outward always is. But I’m a better person when I make the effort.
Holding a spending fast does similar things for our family. It reminds us of how comparatively rock and roll our lifestyle is, as well as forcing us to examine that lifestyle for any changes we could make. We eat much better–healthier and often tastier–when we don’t allow ourselves to buy food anywhere but at a grocery store, so our bodies are in better condition at the end of the month than when we started. We are more thoughtful about purchases we want/need to make when we have almost a month to mull them over, so we aren’t wasting our money on things that are meaningless or unnecessary. We are more aware of the needs of others, and try to be kinder and more generous when we can. Spending fasts are teaching us to be more mindful of our blessings and how we use them.
And yes, we have cheated a few times already. I went out to lunch with Camille because it feels like we’ve been meaning to do it foreeeevvveeerrr. David and I splurged on dinner at the White Chocolate Grill for his birthday. We bought a new part for our HVAC unit because it broke randomly. David got supplies for an upcoming work project. But each of these “cheats” were conscious choices. They were good for our bodies or our livelihood or our relationships.
Not spending money on non-essentials is rarely fun, but I’m glad we’re doing it. If nothing else it makes me grateful for what I have…and especially grateful for a long-awaited trip to Target when the month is over.
(Jen + Target =
|Image source, via Mikaela|