TMI: My “No Spend” January is Underway

Credits: Photo - Anonymous, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Location - Sarah G. Schmidt's home


Today marks a new adventure for me. Something I haven’t done for a very long time. This January I will be doing something wild. Here it is: I am already underway on a no-spend January. Yup, this professional shopper is taking pause on shopping.

Hear me out. This will only affect my household and me. Of course I’ll still be shopping for clients and their projects. The key difference is that I won’t be shopping for my partner, my home, or myself. Cue the screams.

Did I mention that my home is currently under bathrooms renovations? I have most things pre-purchased but there will inevitable be a few things that I’ll want to pick up (but don’t really need to). Also, remember that I think January is the best month to shop? Best deals of the year and the selection on hand suits the Calgary climate. Bah! This will be a challenge.

These are the rules imposed: if it’s not essential – as in bills, pre-authorized insurance and investments, groceries, fuel, or medical – it’s forbidden for thirty-one days. I’m attempting to take on consumer’s Everest and live to tell the tale.

That means no personal trips into the sale section at the mall. Sadly, this January I will not be stocking up on my swim suits for the summer. I will not be scooping up mega sales on winter jackets and tights. Nope, I will be a sober shopper. I will watch the 50, 60, and 70% off red stickers come and go with no participation. My eyes may water but I will not extend my VISA. In fact, I’m leaving all my credit cards home this month.

Shocker alert: I am a vain person who experiences extreme joy in trying out various cosmetic products to help create my mystique. But, this month there will be no meandering through the latest lip colours at Sephora. I won’t be buying deep conditioner to help coif my pretty Mohawk. Nope. Steering clear of my favourite nail place will be essential to not popping in for a quick pedicure or manicure (or both, LBH). Instead I’ll be using what I already have stocked in my home. Shocking theory, right?

Under no circumstances will I be eating out or picking up coffees (that’s a half lie, if it’s work related and thus qualifies as a business expense, I will). As a non-cook, no eating out may be a bit hard. Nevertheless, I plan to drastically limit. This is a bit of a sad point because I love to get dressed up and go eat out somewhere fabulous. It’s a one-two punch combination that makes my heart sing. Don’t fear for me, I take pride in my ability to modify. Thus, this month I’ll be getting gussied up to eat in my own home. That sounds a bit fun, truthfully. It will be a bit like a house party except no guests will be invited.

Why am I putting myself through this rigorous discipline that will leave me wanting? That’s easy, to save money. I’m all for investing in things needed – including a personal wardrobe that fits, flatters, and makes you feel freaking awesome – but I’m pretty good in that department. I, too, remind myself that this is a one-month project. It’s amazing what we can do for a month.

I am also a fan of checking oneself before wrecking oneself. Instead of letting spend creep up over time and have to deal with a huge problem later, taking pause and realigning now makes sense. Dollars and cents. A Maclean’s article last year illustrated Canadians debt problem in just one sentence,

“The temptation to spend is too great, and access to cheap debt too easy.”

It is too easy, right? That’s the challenge I’m trying to tackle head on. North American’s are bombarded with messages of simplifying one’s life. We are urged to live the life that one can afford while simultaneously being bombarded with brands urging us to buy their “must have” products. Although we all know instinctively that we should be spending less than we make, it can be tricky. As Kevin Hart says to himself and his audience in his early stand up,

“Stay in your financial lane!”

This project’s goal is to save 15-20% of January’s total household income. Then moving forward to the rest of the year, see what areas cutting back can stick for more than a month. I’ll be reporting back in early February to share what went well and where I fell short. Some may find this project depressing; I’m feeling excited and motivated to do it. I consider myself a bit of an elective underdog so this kind of challenge is right up my alley.

But like with many things, the sparkle of newness may fade. Let’s see – and laugh at - how “chipper” I am two weeks from now, right? Ready… go.