Shopping During My No-Spend Challenge

Last week, I talked about what I learned during The Contentment Challenge. Hosted by Nancy Ray, it's a three-month commitment to give up shopping for "stuff." It officially took place from January - March 2020, but you could do it anytime! Since one of my goals for the year relates to growing my financial knowledge, I thought this challenge would be a great opportunity to both save and evaluate my spending. Nancy has shared her own guidelines for the challenge, but I specifically focused on the money I spent on myself.

Throughout the challenge, I kept track of any money that I spent. Some purchases didn't "count" since they were birthday gifts for friends, for example. Additionally, Kelly and I had previously decided that we wanted to buy at least one book per month from somewhere other than Amazon (ideally from an indie bookstore) so that was one exception I planned to allow myself. Now, that being said, I did buy a few things over the three months and thought I'd share those items here today! Next week, I'm going to talk about my post-challenge wishlist.

1. One Book Per Month (~$20/month)
As I mentioned, Kelly and I made a goal of buying one book per month from anywhere other than Amazon before I decided to participate in the challenge. So, that was an "approved" exception! I bought Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin, Open Book by Jessica Simpson, and House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas.

I make my own printables for a Happy Planner that I use as a variation on a bookish bullet journal. I need a heavier weight paper to make the pages more durable, and I ran out of it early in January. I let myself order another pack since I'd actually run out and use it regularly. I figured it wasn't cheating since it was a "need."

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm addicted to jeans and am willing to spend more to get the fit and length I want/need. Madewell denim is my favorite, especially because many come in longer lengths. When I found this pair in my size AND in Taller for only $30, I hit Place Order faster than you can even imagine. And I have no regrets!

After seeing this pattern on Instagram and thinking about it for weeks, I messaged the shop owner on Etsy to ask if she'd ever have more. She told me it'd be available in her next re-stock, and that happened on March 18, before the challenge ended. I didn't need it but bought it anyway, and I feel good about supporting a small business. 

5. Starbucks Latte (~$5 per visit)
I abstained from buying "stuff" during the challenge but didn't set any limits on eating out. After looking at my spending over the three months, I definitely should have included Starbucks in the ban! Occasional visits added up quickly, which I saw more clearly when I wasn't spending money on much else. It was a lesson I needed to learn!

Although I unsubscribed from almost all marketing emails, I decided to keep Audible Daily Deals. I used several credits during the challenge but didn't count them because I paid for the entire year of credits last December. I did, however, purchase this when it was a daily deal. I loved this book and want to re-read via audio!

I have a Scotch laminator that I bought several years ago, and I use it for a variety of things. From chore charts to cleaning routines, it has come in handy. I had a handful of things to laminate in January but had run out of pouches at the end of 2019 and just forgotten to re-order before the challenge actually started. Whoops!

Technically, I used a Target gift card on these sticky notes, so I don't know if they really count. But in the spirit of sharing everything I bought during my no-spend challenge, I figured I'd include them. I used up the last of my Post-it stash, so this was another case where I just replaced something that I frequently use.

My faaaaaaavorite pens EVER! When my last two Flairs started to dry up, I immediately added this pack to my cart in the Target app. I didn't need them since I have plenty of other pens that I could pick from, but this is the only pen I use in my planner so.... I cheated on the challenge with zero guilt. Haha!


  1. You did way better than I've ever done with challenges like this. I really need to give this another try. I totally don't blame you for that Story Time Sleeve though! I adore her sleeves.

  2. It sounds like all of the things that you ended up purchasing were actually mostly stuff you needed and regularly use, so I think you did a wonderful job with keeping to a stricter budget and really assessing what you buy.

    (I'm fully guilty of spending a lot on coffee too, though I'm trying to be better about that.)


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