A year ago, Sarah, who I have the privilege of working with at Connexus, decided to go on a personal spending fast. For twelve months, she decided to buy nothing new for an entire year. You can read about her journey here and her conclusions after a year of not buying anything new here.
I’ll just be completely honest. As much as I admire Sarah (she works as my assistant and leads an incredible life as a Christ follower), when she first announced it there was something inside me that really resisted the idea of a spending fast. I thought “good for her, but not applicable to me.”
But as her year drew to a close this week and I watched her reflect on what she’d learned, I got drawn in. We had a great conversation the other day about it, and over the last few days, I think I heard God speaking to me. This is not something you have to do, but this would be so good for you.
So after thinking about it all week and discussing it with my wife, today marks the first day I’m buying nothing new for me personally for the next year.
- I want to root out entitlement. There’s been a lot said about entitlement lately, but I want to root the idea that I deserve anything right out of my system. I’m not entitled to anything. I don’t have a right to anything. No one owes me anything.
- I want to be more grateful. I feel incredibly privileged and blessed most days. But I realize that my gratitude could be higher. Probably much higher.
- I want to give more away. I’m not sure what this fast will do to our family budget, but I’d like to give more to others and more to the Kingdom with the money we save.
- I have enough. I really do. Far more than enough.
- Money impacts the heart. I’ve always taught that if there’s going to be an idol in our lives in Western culture, the number one candidate is money. I have a premonition that this is going to be as much (or more) of a spiritual journey as a financial journey. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Where will this hit me most? Technology for sure. It’s an addiction and passion for me. I know the iPhone 5 is coming out. I was going to buy one this fall. I don’t have a 4S. I only have a 4. Did you hear how ridiculous that last statement was? I only have a 4? That’s more than 99% of the planet. It works wonderfully. It’s amazing. It’s an iPhone for crying out loud! I don’t need a new one. And I won’t get one for at least a year. Or maybe more.
Also…and this will be trickier, no new apps…unless they are free. And no new music, unless it’s free (I don’t do pirated music, so it will probably mean a lot of listening online…).
It will also hit me on clothing and biking (I love biking). But again…I’m not exactly lacking in these areas.
Here are some rules I’ve set for myself:
- I won’t buy any new clothes, only second hand clothes, and even then, only if I absolutely need it.
- Zero in technology, new or used, unless something breaks and I actually can’t work without it.
- No new personal items at all (things you like to have but don’t need).
- Because I’m married and have kids, I will buy for my family…whether that’s a vacation or dinner out or for home or car repair etc. But not if it’s just for me. Nothing personal in the mix that’s just for me.
- I will buy one new suit. My oldest son is getting married and that’s the exception.
- Gift cards can be used for personal shopping, but any cash gifts (Christmas etc) can’t be. They will be used for experiences shared with others. (That will teach me to appreciate how others contribute to my life more).
So there we go. It’s a new year so to speak. I’ll be excited to see what God does in my heart. In fact, I can’t wait.
Have you ever done a spending fast? What did you learn?