Monday, November 5, 2012

my challenge...

ok, i haven't shared yet on my blog about my personal challenge.
some of you, in real life, know about my challenge.
others, do not.
that's ok.
honestly, it's not something i feel the need to broadcast.
maybe that's why i haven't felt the need to put it up on the blog yet.
but i've been feeling like i need to share.
maybe it'll help someone.
maybe it'll get people to think.
and maybe, i'll just get called an idiot.
(yes, i've gotten looks like this when i've shared my plan)
regardless, here's the deal with "my challenge".
just over three months ago i made a decision to try and stop spending useless money.
basically to stop buying the things i want... and focus more on the things i need.
not necessarily monetary stuff either.
it all started with a discussion that big m and i had regarding a possible trip in spring.
we were invited to spend some time in california with my in laws.
sounds awesome, doesn't it?!
believe me... it is... here's some picture of us spending time there almost 3 years ago.
(feel free to travel with me down my feel good memory lane)

anyway, so we were invited again.
i was pumped!
so were the girls, obviously.
big m... well, he's the money man in the house.
he likes budgets and savings and penny pinching... and, i like to spend, ahem.
well, he thought that we might not be able to financially swing a trip like this.
the thing is, we were planning to visit my parents in texas next fall...
so that would mean 2 big trips in one year.
which also... truth be told... makes me think, "aw yeah!!  think about the amazing SHOPPING!!"
i will totally admit that i'm a shopaholic.
i LIVE to shop!
that wasn't a typo.
yes, i do LOVE to shop also... but honestly, i LIVE to shop too!
it sounds so dumb but shopping totally gets my blood pumpin'!
it's so fun... exhilarating!
c'mon girls... tell me i'm not alone here!
and man, the thrill of a deal!
don't even get me started.
i know not everyone likes this aspect of shopping, but my mama taught me well...
and we love a good sales rack score!
now, i'm getting off topic here.
ok, so when big m told me he was thinking we wouldn't get to do the california trip, i was BUMMED!
so my wheels started turning.
what if we went on this trip and i decided to do absolutely no shopping?
what if we just went to hang out?
to relax by the pool.
to find random parks and playgrounds.
to go hiking.
to basically do things that wouldn't cost lots of money.
hitting up the outlet mall?
cruising into all the fun boutiques?
although these are high on my typical priority list... they are gonna be a no-go for me this year.
big m contemplated my plan.
actually, he totally thought i couldn't do it.
but i promised!!
and he said, "ok."
and then it got my wheels turning again.
i could challenge myself to not spend any money in palm springs...
to go a couple of weeks without shopping.
that can't be THAT hard, can it?
but can i stretch myself even more?
can i?
so that's where "my challenge" came in.
i thought more and more about my personal spending habits.
i thought of all the times i've bought things for no good reason.
"look, it's on sale... i NEED it!" cha-ching
"look, it's soooo cute... i NEED it!" cha-ching
"look, the last one, it's in my size, i can't leave it... i NEED it!" cha-ching
"look, it's fall clothes.  my old stuff is boring... i NEED it!" cha-ching
yeah, i can justify a lot when i shop.
because it IS fun.
it does make me feel good.
seeing something new and pretty in my wardrobe is exciting.
seeing a new something in my home makes my eyes smile.
but does it last?
no, i can tell you it doesn't.
in a couple weeks or months i realize that that new top or that new bowl doesn't bring me any more satisfaction.
it's just stuff.
and i just felt like i needed to give myself a break from the spending.
i needed to figure out why i spend the way i do...
and try to change it.
and the easiest way to figure that out?
stop spending all together.
specifically... stop spending 'til june 2013.
(very random date, yes... but i figured i would attempt to stop spending for an entire school year.)
ok, ok, ok.
i'm not totally stopping all spending.
let's be clear here.
i'm just not spending on any unnecessary items for myself or my girls.
because that's where i have a problem.
i'm still buying food and groceries... toiletries... etc.
and my girls needed a few extra items for school... like new jeans.
AND... i knew i needed to buy at least one, maybe two pairs of new running shoes within that time frame.
i just need to stop buying all that extra stuff.
you know, the random tshirt, sweater, boots, houseware stuff, etc.
so i'm three months in now and let me tell you, it has NOT been easy.
it's been brutally hard.
i have to make a conscious choice almost daily not to spend.
i never knew how hard it was to see those dang emails from gap, old navy, anthropologie, lulu lemon, j.crew, among many others.
they entice me... they try to sink their teeth into me... tempting me with sales and deals.
it's incredibly difficult.

TODAY ONLY, 10/17 | 30% OFF* your purchase

Take an extra 25% off all sale clothing!

frig, those emails are sooo hard to resist!
it might sound dumb, but i really feel like this whole thing has been God ordained.
some people may be thinking, "what the heck does God have to do with it?"
well, in my opinion, everything.
in church we're going through matthew 5-7, bit by bit.
if you're not familiar with the text, it's Jesus' famous "sermon on the mount".
all the sermons in this series that our church is calling "salt & light living" have been very eye opening for me.
and, believe it or not, a lot of these sermons have been dealing with money.
here's a few verses that have knocked me upside down, in a good way:

"don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or - worse! - stolen by burglars.  stockpile treasures in heaven..." matt 6:19

"you can't worship God and money both." matt 6:24

"there is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body..." matt 6:25

"what i'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving." matt 6:31

yeah, that last one is a doozy!
definitely felt that one deep in my heart.
i really feel like i need to learn to be a better steward of my money.
i need to learn that my money isn't actually my money, but God's money.
just like my children.
they're His too.
and this is a very tough lesson for me to swallow.
i also need to realize that i don't need all the stuff that i think i do.
like i said before, it's a temporary feeling of happiness.
it's not true joy.
only true joy comes from God.
not from possessions or material items.
people survive on just the essentials and are probably just as happy, if not happier, than me.
why can't i do the same?
if i'm freeing up money from my own personal spending habits, maybe God can use that money for something else...
and i'm trusting He will lead and direct me in those ways.
you need to know that this is what God is convicting ME of.
it's not for everyone.
others may not feel they have the same issues as i do...
again, it's MY convictions... not anyone else's.
i'm just choosing to share my weaknesses and convictions with you all. (or ya'll, for you southerners)
maybe it'll help...
maybe it won't.
but i feel like i need to share.
and please, please don't think i'm sharing this because i want to say i'm better than you if you don't do the same.
it's soo the opposite.
honestly, i want to share because i want to show you my struggles too.
that this is NOT easy for me.
it really isn't.
and i'm tempted over and over again.
it sounds sorta pathetic, i know... but this is very hard... and humbling.
but i want to come on here and be honest with you.
i want to share when i've had a particular tough moment and i've stumbled (b/c i will, i HAVE!)...
and when i've been able to defeat those lies stirring in my heart and mind.
satan can use all sorts of strongholds in our lives to whisper sins and bury himself into our very being.
so there is my challenge...
no unnecessary spending on myself or my girls 'til june of 2013.
reading it makes me freaked out.
it's out there... i can't take it back, as much as there's a big part of me that wants to.
i want to share lots of thoughts and feelings i've been having through this process.
at least now you'll have a reference for my ramblings from this point forward.  ;)
not today though... this post is PLENTY long enough.
thanks for letting me share!

(hope you enjoyed the photo dump... all those pics are relevant because they're taken WHILE shopping!)


bandofbrothers said...

i'm so proud of you! the hubs and i were just talking about pulling the reigns in on unnecessary spending in case of a major financial catastrophe in the economy. we will be kicking ourselves for not saving and just spending. but i love how God is working in your heart too!

Elissa said...

Love this-- and all those shopping pictures :) I hear ya on the shopping... there are days when I definitely "live to shop" too :) Doug always tells me I need a hobby-- and I always tell him that my hobby is shopping. Somehow he doesn't buy it :) I don't think your challenge is crazy-- it's awesome! Definitely would be hard to persevere at times-- but you can do it! You'll never regret doing a challenge like this!