Five years ago, I embarked on my spending fast — a challenge to only spend money on necessities for an entire year.
I was looking to get my spending back on track, save some money and get rid of the clutter that comes along with having a lot of stuff. Though the fast was trying at times, I managed to substantially improve my financial situation without the help of finance professionals by only funding my needs (think: rent, utilities, food, gym membership), and leaving my wants (meals out, new clothes, fancy haircuts) by the wayside.
In the end, I extended the challenge timeline to 15 months, and managed to completely eliminate my $24,000 debt in that time. I now know that living a fulfilling, enjoyable life doesn't have to involve that expensive night out or frivolous shopping spree.
Creative, free activities can bring you just as much joy as anything money can buy. See if you can incorporate any of these 10 ideas into your routine today. Happy (non) spending!
1. Have a marathon with your favorite actor or actress
Check out all of their movies from the library or watch them all on Netflix. Another idea — decide to have a movie marathon theme night. 90’s movies, cult classic movies, cheesiest movies ever made, worst movies ever made, and the worst horror movies ever made are all fun options.
2. Be anonymously nice
Leave random nice notes all around town. Some ideas for your notes include, “You can do it!” or, “You’ve got this!” These just might be the sign someone has been looking for to take the next leap in their life. Hang the notes on light posts, tuck them into car doors and windshields, leave them on community cork boards. Spread around kindness and awesomeness and it will come right back to you. It’s the craziest thing, but goodness boomerangs!
Here are a few more inspirational mantras that will help you spread good vibes.
3. Treat yourself to a home spa day
Use your cooled morning coffee grounds as a full body exfoliator, soak your feet, put a warm washcloth over your face, turn on a relaxing free radio stations like Songza or Pandora, and use your imagination to pretend you’re in a luxury resort laying by the poolside as a tan pool boy serves you free (hey, let’s go for it) ice-cold drinks.
These DIY beauty recipes will help you take your home pampering to the next level.
4. Make some of your Pinterest pins
If you’re one of the 104.4 million Pinterest users, this one is for you. You know all those pins that you have on your boards? This is the perfect time to actually make some of them. The challenge: only tackle the projects that you can do with supplies you already own.
5. Read the archives of your favorite blogs
We all have our favorite blogs and websites — see what they were like in the beginning by digging through their archives.
6. Start a happy book
Compile all of your good memories in one little notebook. Include those silly things that happen in life that crack you up and make you really to-the-gut happy — you know the ones. Sometimes it’s just a matter of noticing how very lucky you truly are. Take notice of all the obvious things (think: roof over your head) as well as those things that seem trivial but that help make your life more enjoyable (think: the bus arriving right as you get to the stop). When you’re feeling crappy, open your happy book up to a random page for an instant boost.
Here are a few more insights into the art of gratitude journaling.
7. Build a fort
Even if you don't have children of your own, you can throw some sheets over a few chairs and a table, toss in some blankets and pillows and pretend like you’re a kid again. Who doesn’t have memories of building forts or of playing in boxes as a kid? Get goofy and let yourself have fun with it.
8. Get creative with your meals
Break out of any food rut that might be building by coming up with some new meal ideas using only the foods that you already own. Tap into your inner Top Chef and see what unique and tasty flavors you can come up with. Think outside of your normal “go-to” foods, and you just might create some brand new favorites.
These 10 culinary tips will make you totally rethink those leftovers.
9. Make meaningful contact
Tell someone in your life why you love them and what you appreciate most about them. Don’t miss the chance to get goodness out into the world and make someone feel great about themselves.
10. Take a picture an hour
Ever wonder what your life looks like to others? Find out by snapping a picture an hour for the entire day. From the seemingly common to the obviously exciting, every aspect of your life will look different through the lens of a camera. No need to worry if you don’t have a fancy camera — a cell phone works perfectly for this.
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