In March of this year my husband and I made a decision to stop buying clothes for one year. We stopped getting my EI Maternity Leave cheques that month and we had also made the decision that I would not be going to work for another year. Leaving us with only Stanley's income for a whole year. WOW. What a reality check. (Not Cheque lol I wish!)
We wanted to start saving money where we could. I started with our new budget. I took a glass jar and kept it in the kitchen. That jar is for all receipts. I use our online banking in addition to counting all our receipts at the end of the month. Why keep receipts you ask? It's almost like a physical reminder after I've purchased something that "YES YOU SPENT MONEY ON THIS". I'm a visual learner so this is quite a mind changing exercise for me in terms of little reminders to me mindful of how I'm choosing to spend our hard earned money.
We've been doing this since March, it's now May so we've only been actively making drastic changes for three months. Not a long time, but long enough to leave me feeling hopeful that we've completed one quarter of our one year challenge to not buy new clothes.
Now we have some set rules, but I want to share with you the flexible part of this challenge. If we get gifts in money, certificates to specific clothing stores or we make fun bets during this year we can get a new piece of clothing. That way it's a more indirect way of consuming more stuff. But still drastic enough that we won't buy a copious amount of clothes for each new season or new event. That also being said, We've been maintaining a minimalistic lifestyle since January of this year. Again, in a way that works for us and our family.
For example, I won an UNO game and the loser had to buy the winner an article of clothing. I WAS SO EXCITED! But with my new mindfulness of not bringing any money this year, only living off Stanley's income, our new minimalistic lifestyle and values, and not buying new clothes for one year challenge-well...I did not take advantage of my prize and get the most trendy, flashy and expensive piece of clothing like I naturally would've like to.
Instead I was at our monthly Costco haul and I sensibly picked up a 7 pack of high waisted bikini cut full bottom panties. I came home and Stanley insisted that I treat myself to an actual piece of clothing instead of a necessity of panties that I so desperately needed, but I declined his kind offer as I was completely satisfied with my prize. That's right people I have changed! I bought something that I knew I NEEDED rather than WANTED. I was extremely proud of myself. It was a small action that I made in a direction of a life that I want.
I've been keeping a log in my journal of how I feel throughout this experience of not being able to buy clothes. The first two months were the absolute hardest. I think it also stemmed from feeling inadequate that I wasn't bringing in an actual tactile cheque to prove my worth in our family puzzle. My first year off with him, I spent money every single day. I knew that I was bringing in my Mat Leave Cheques each month so I felt entitled. It was "MY" money. Wether it was a coffee, or two, or a whole shit load of crap from Winners, London Drugs or WholeFoods.
It's been a process to decide to stay an extra year with my son and raise him. It's been a real transformative experience with my identity. Perhaps doing this challenge and living more minimalistically gives me control over my non earning money side of life. Which, to be honest, leaves me feeling a LOT LESS entitled to spend Stanley's pay cheques. (I am still learning to call it our money...) Not buying things we don't need, specifically 'No Clothes For a Year Challenge' presented itself as extremely useful in how I am raising my son on a day to day basis. I contribute my time, my energy, my emotions, my patience and my raising of my son and budgeting our money to my family now, instead of a pay cheque. And that is absolutely priceless. And exhausting!
I'm really proud of myself because in doing this challenge, it requires a discipline that I usually gave into my work. Now I can see the benefits it has on my home, family and reducing financial stress. I certainly do miss the emotional spending and frivolous shopping, but it forces me to be creative with my time, my energy and how I choose to spend time with Cooper, my 13 month old son.
I've been blessed to send my non spending energy out into the universe and pick up on resources that have already been out in front of me. Wether it's financial REAL talks with my girlfriends, or tips and tricks from Instagram or YouTube. I am not at a perfect budget yet, But we have definitely been making differences each month.
I find that I'm experiencing the beauty of simple things more and being grateful everyday. Money can't buy you happiness. But it certainly can buy things you need, things you want, and a better life. I'm choosing to be extra mindful of what a dollar means to me and my family this year. Stay tuned for more stories on my new mindful financial life!