Usually, you read about INJFs being all-or-nothing. And that certainly is true of me in many ways. But, INFJs are value-driven individuals and I believe in moderation. In other ways, I don't do extremes. I don't diet, for example. I don't often deprive myself of anything I want, allowing for at least a little. I consider this challenge to be extreme. It doesn't feel like something I would normally be drawn to. I'm up for it though.
The No Spend Month is personal and I have set my own rules. I plan to pay rent, utilities, bills, laundry, doctor's appointments as well as buy medicine, contacts, and groceries using "new" money earned during the month. I will not purchase anything extra for the 28-day month. I will also not direct any money towards saving for anything else during these four weeks.
I do plan to go into the month with a bit of "old" money. I have $21 in cash in my wallet that I am allowed to spend. If (when!) I spend this little bit of cash, I will not consider it a failure whatsoever. I want a little money just in case something comes up or I really want or could use something small. In addition, if I want, I am permitting myself to use the two gift cards that I've had in my wallet for years now, a $10 gift card to Applebee's and a $25 Walmart gift card. These are my only exceptions.
In addition to not spending on extras, I plan to spend a bit less on food. My grocery budget for the month is $100, which is $25 a week. I love to eat and didn't want to go crazy spending on food just because I cannot purchase anything else. In the store, I want to mostly add fresh vegetables and dairy products like milk and cheese to my basket. I would like to limit meat, prepared foods, pantry items, and ice cream for this month.
For the majority of my groceries, I plan to patronize my local grocery store, Giant, that I can walk to each week. I am limiting myself to a single Target run all month long. One. With a short list of only food items in hand. That week, my combined total at Giant and Target will not exceed $25. Sometimes, Target is cheaper as well as easier to get to. If we get a lot of snow (it's snowing as I type this), it might be quite the trek on the unshoveled sidewalk to the grocery store, which is a block further than Target. To help avoid temptation, I deleted my Cartwheel app icon from my phone's home page. This Target discount app remains under Apps icon though, making it just a step less easy to access. I will try to stay off of it until I am planning a shopping trip soon. I replaced this shortcut on my home page with ibotta, the cash back app.
Trying to make this challenge a success, I have prepared for weeks now. Well, I stocked up as much as I could it being the season when my income is at its lowest. I have replenished makeup including purchasing a new CoverGirl mascara at Target when it was 30% off on a Cartwheel discount. In the last few weeks, I bought a bottle of conditioner, a month's worth (which is two packets) of my hair conditioning treatment, and many bars of Dove soap for the shower. I stocked up a bit on many paper products such as toilet paper, paper napkins, paper towels, and paper plates. Plastic products too, like snack and sandwich zip bags. I have more cleaning products like dishwasher detergent in my cabinets. Also, I have bought a little more wine than usual lately and saved most of the wine I received as a Christmas gift. No, I'm not considering Chianti a necessity for this challenge. I have even bought food pantry items, especially more expensive ones like my two different kinds of olive oil, so that I can more easily stick to my grocery budget during the month. I counted eight boxes of pasta. Yes, eight. I buy it when it's on sale! This challenge is an opportunity to use what I have.
Since I do not own a vehicle, I no longer visit stores, restaurants, and coffee shops often. However, I do browse websites all the time. In attempt to diminish temptation, I will try not to check the websites and emails of my favorite retailers nor my Amazon wishlist. I also removed my Amazon app from my phone's home screen, replacing it with the calculator. I plan to replace this virtual window shopping with alternative activities. The main thing I would like to do is to blog more. I would love to publish 9 posts in February. I have so many book reviews and other posts to write! I would love to do another home tour. In addition, I am going to read more. In fact, I plan to add a book to my already full Winter Reading List. I have already purchased the paperback on the related topic of living well with less and will likely dive in on the 1st! I will reveal this book in a post soon.
I hope to get a lot out of this. First, my objective is to add to my savings. I am not comfortable with posting large numbers on the internet for safety reasons, but I hope to hit a particular savings goal of a portion of the $1,000 emergency fund, which is Dave Ramsey's 1st Baby Step. Even though I have never read nor listened to Ramsey, bloggers and YouTubers who I follow love him, so I know what he basically recommends.
A second thing I hope to get out of this challenge is a life lesson. I want to truly appreciate what I have. More than repeatedly focusing on the next thing again and again and again. In this never-ending cycle, there is not a moment when I simply feel content. As an INFJ, I don't like, I obsess. And I am constantly obsessing over the next thing or two I plan to purchase. When I have money, I spend it. Specifically, I am a reward spender, meaning that since I work hard, I deserve the things I want. Also, I desire everything to be just so. After this challenge, I want to be able to spend less and I think practicing sincere gratitude for my current possessions is a starting point. Furthermore, I want to be less materialistic and more concerned with what truly matters in life. Many Americans tend to be live to work, when many Italians work to live.
Third, I want to be excited about savings. I haven't been enthusiastic about it before. I don't believe that as a result of this challenge, I will transform from being a spender into a saver, but I do want to gain a greater interest in saving money. They say there is motivation in "snowballing" your debt, but I'm not there yet. These three changes will serve me well in life. I feel it is time for all this.
I will practice being frugal for February and show you how in blog posts throughout the month. Because I'm apartment poor, paying down debt and on a budget prior to this challenge, I will also share a few of my personal frugal tips which I hope you find inspiring, not advice you normally find out there. For some added accountability, I will take you along with me, sharing my progress, temptations, and busts. I may even snap a picture of my "grocery haul" and name each product in a caption, similar to what is done on YouTube. I don't plan on posting an update on a particular day of the week, but you may expect fairly regular check-ins. I predict that my No Spend Month will be a success. Wish me luck!
Did you do a No Spend January? Or are you with me for February?