Junk in January

After watching an episode of Tiny House nation on FYI, I thought “I could certainly live that lifestyle” but after a glance in our upstairs closet–affectionately referred to as No Man’s Land in our house–I realized that we were fostering useless relics. Now I come from a long line of neat freaks and I can say that I’ve always been a fan of periodically purging but after 4 months of birthdays, Christmas, a new job and just no spare time, I thought it was only fitting to tackle No Man’s Land and several other sneaky hiding spots for all things clutter.

The timing wasn’t altogether coincidence, as part of my January no-spend challenge was to review and reassess. Why? As per several no-spend resources, it is helpful to go through your things, and I mean all your things, and determine what is needed, what makes you happy, and what items that had previously brought joy but had lost their luster. After 3 hours of going through the closet, every drawer, cabinet and bin, I had amassed a small pile of success on my dining room table. The scary truth of this expedition: I have plenty of personal items–further reinforcing the notion that mindless spending (pre no-spend challenge) was only adding to this mountain of purged household goods–otherwise known as a waste of money.

Part of the rebalancing act as a workaholic is to identify and conquer the crutches we all use to achieve temporary satisfaction that generally have no correlation to actual solution. Ever had a bad morning at work and decide you deserve a treat because the world has wronged you? (Hoping for honest internal monologues here) I am a guilty of this reward system and the result has been countless trips to Home Goods, Starbucks, Marshall’s and even Cupcake City (amazing cupcakes but not for this reason)–downstream impact: a house full of stuff–not meaningful, thoughtful tangible goods but rather visual confirmation that a rebalance is needed. My January no-spend challenge has forced me to find alternatives to sooth the sting of a hectic morning like taking a walk around the floor, or listening to classical music in our company’s sleep pods (amazing employee perk). It’s taken some getting used to but I’ve learned to appreciate just silence when it feels like the world is tumbling down. What a novel concept.

Next up- the miracle garment for every work out…


A Penny for Your Thoughts?

Has anyone out there attempted some sort of cleanse? As the new year inspires us to try new things and start anew and as a prudent CPA, I thought it may be interesting to switch gears and attempt a financial cleanse. While I’ve dabbled in both the juice and broth/fruit/veggie cleanse arenas in the past (I nearly passed out at work after day 3 of the juice cleanse), I haven’t tried to tackle the nasty habit of mindless shopping–even if it is for relatively small and inexpensive items.

The challenge
-Reduce shopping for unnecessary items, as a result of stress from work, boredom, not thinking through the actual necessity of the product(s)
-Save additional money for new projects/adventures
-Focus on purging and pairing down existing items at home –my mother and sister can attest to primal need the 3 of us have to reduce/toss/simplify the stuff in each of our homes (the men in our families have become desensitized to the quarterly clean out of closest, desks, coffee tables, and cupboards and some outsiders, who will remain unnamed, have often labeled this habit as OCD)
-To appease my inner number junkie– nothing makes me happier at work than to see restraint in spending– so the same happiness must hold true for my personal life, right?

After reading several other fiscally inspired blogs, I have devised a list of my own rules, as well as including links to the various inspirations for this challenge–helpful sites:
1. Mint.com
2. For those looking for a daily no-spend challenge
3. Proof that a no-spend month can work
4. Tips on how to avoid no-spend challenge mistakes

Ground Rules
While the ground rules out there can range from inhumane to tolerable, I’ve developed the following rules for myself:
1. No frivolous purchases (i.e. new jeans, workout gear, cooking gadgets, nicknacks, etc.). I’ve already unsubscribed from sites like Rue LaLa, Gilt, Jcrew, Cole Haan, etc. with the whole notion out of site, out of mind–in addition to the fact that buying under duress with a countdown ticking away in the upper right-hand corner, stresses many of us out and often leads to impulse buys for impractical and unnecessary items.

2. No Starbucks/Take Out — I’m positive that the wonderful folks at the Starbucks around the corner will still remember my morning staple when I eventually return–although this may be the hardest one of them all, especially with a hectic month ahead at work. A lack of coffee-house prepared happiness may prove whether I really have the stamina to stick with the challenge…

3. Bills/Emergencies Do Not Count (i.e. car payments, cell phone–although I’d love nothing more than to toss it out for a month, etc.)

4. Previously Scheduled Events Do Not Count (i.e. my Mother’s birthday on Jan. 18th–I can easily say that my days of gifting homemade macaroni necklaces elapsed nearly 20 years ago…)

5. Basic Necessities Do Not Count (i.e. groceries, gas, etc.) –although that does not mean I cannot make a more concerted effort to reduce waste, by planning the week’s meals ahead of time, and stockpiling the small pantry. I have already found that a simple grocery list goes a long way to minimizing last-minute and unneeded grocery store finds.

Invitation to the Challenge
So like any civilized event, I must extend an invitation and welcome anyone also inspired or in need of a good ol’ fashioned cleanse:
Timing:The challenge will start on January 5th and end February 5th
Activities: I will provide weekly updates on willpower, progress, tips and successes
Party Favors (because every great cleanse must contain elementary rewards for those who make the sacrifices): Each week I will find a small outlet to reward myself –maybe a Starbucks latte or a manicure–so long as I do not unwind the savings success from the week(s) prior
RSVPs/Comments: Any words of advice/pointers/questions/comments/concerns are strongly encouraged throughout–simply leave a comment on this page or the weekly updates that follow

Let the adventure begin! Guests and spectators of all kinds are welcome on this month-long journey!


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