Happy Valentine’s Day. And Happy Ash Wednesday (aka the first day of Lent). It’s the first time since 1945 that Valentine’s and the start of Lent have fallen on the same day.
So in honor of such an auspicious occasion, I’m taking on a new challenge. While Valentine’s is usually about eating as many chocolates as you can get your hands on, Lent, at least for those in the Christian tradition, is a 40-day time of inner focus, of taking a look at yourself and seeing if there’s anything that you could improve upon. It’s traditionally a time when practitioners make a sacrifice, give up a vice, or adopt a new, perhaps self-sacrificial habit for 40 days.
In the past, I’ve given up alcohol (before I gave it up for good), Diet Coke, and eating out, and taken on exercising and being kinder (or trying to be!). I’ve sometimes had awesome success; sometimes it’s been a bust. Some years I take on a challenge and some years I don’t.
This year, though, I was reading a blog and was challenged to take on a financial Lenten goal.
99to1Percent challenged bloggers to join them in making a frugal financial sacrifice during the Lent season, which I thought was a great idea. They are themselves giving up using their car, watching TV, takeout, and dining out.
Adventure Rich joined in the challenge by giving up eating out, buying alcohol and bread, and decreasing the amount of waste they make (I love that last idea!).
Check out the complete post to see what else people have committed to giving up during the next 40 days.
I have tried several times (and failed!) to do a no-spend challenge, where I buy nothing for a set amount of time, apart from the bare necessities. So I’m going to try again, during Lent, to do a 40-day buy-nothing challenge.
I recently read Cait Flander’s excellent book The Year of Less (affiliate link), where Cait, a writer and blogger from Canada, spent an entire year not buying anything except food. So if she can do it for a year, I can certainly attempt to buy nothing for 40 days (that’s only slightly longer than a month!).
Here are the rules I’ve set out for myself for the challenge:
I will only purchase groceries and gasoline for the next 40 days.
I can also pay our normal bills (obviously) and if the kids or Mr. ThreeYear needs to purchase something, they can. I will also purchase gifts during that time, because I don’t want other people to have to suffer during my Buy-Nothing time.
If something breaks and I must repair it, I can, but I will make those purchases carefully and thoughtfully, trying not to buy replacements unless/until absolutely necessary.
I’m exciting to see if I can make it for 40 days! I’m also a little nervous, especially during Winter Break (what if the kids want to go see a movie?). But, we have ski passes, so we have already-paid for entertainment there (and we can bring our own snacks!). Plus, our library is hosting all kinds of free events (including movies!) that we can attend.
I hope to be able to rely on my creativity to not instinctively buy things. I also hope I remember! Clicking that “Buy Now” button is way too easy! But I’m going to post notes up to remind myself.
Want to join the challenge? Visit 99to1Percent and let them know what you plan to give up!
Enjoy your chocolates (luckily I’ve already bought mine!) and happy Ash Wednesday if you celebrate!