Personal Spending Fast – 3 Month Update

So three months ago I began my year long personal spending fast.  I laid out the guidelines for the fast here. It’s been a great conversation starter with many of you and I thought I’d give an update.

Here are some random learnings so far:

1.  I spend less than I thought. Because I didn’t cut out food (some of you asked – are you buying food?  I think to myself, am I that overweight that I could live for a year on my reserves? But I digress…), I still grab a caffeinated beverages and food on the road, but I realized I just don’t buy a lot of stuff for myself that often.  We’ve had some big family purchases (a car (new to us) and a major house project) but personal spending is at an all time low.

2. I already have a lot. I am blessed. I could live for a year spending nothing on myself and want for nothing.  Thinking about that.

3. I am more dependent on others. I only have one summer bike shirt (I road ride) and really want a beige pair of shorts.  I would have bought both of those things but can’t.  Although I can buy used clothing, do you have any idea how hard it is to find a used pair of beige men’s shorts in summer?  When it came to gifts, I was the hard-to-buy-for guy before the fast.  We’re celebrating Father’s Day late this month in my family but when they asked what I wanted, I knew exactly what to tell them.  That made me feel better.  My old answer of ‘nothing’ was probably more a reflect that I got what I wanted without anyone’s help.  That’s not good.

4. I am grateful for the generosity of others. A friend or two has given a gift card.  I’m so grateful but haven’t spent them yet because I don’t want to buy something I might change my mind on a month from now.

5. I am greedy. I have so much.  Why do I want more?  I am enjoying life just as much (maybe a bit more) without spending.

6. Possessions are a lot of work for the reward they give. A couple of days ago the idea of selling all my possessions and giving to the poor actually looked attractive for the first time in my life. I’ve always believed that, but I was on a three day marathon on my vacation time to get house projects done. I usually love those things but by day three it just seemed futile and a waste of time. Jesus’ teachings to “look at the flowers of the field” registered more deeply than ever before.  I also resonated with Solomon’s thinking Ecclesiastes.

7. I’m starting to value what I have more than I value what I want. I actually don’t want a new phone or a New iPad.  My iPhone 4 (not 4s) and iPad 2 are more than enough.  See point #2. Interestingly, my iPad 2 broke.  One of the spending fast rules was I could replace what broke.  I guess technically that means I could have gotten the new iPad without breaking the rules I set.  I didn’t.  I got a much cheaper iPad 2 replacement.  And I’m totally fine with it.  If you know me, that’s unusual for me.  The monks would have gone without an iPad, I’m sure.  But I’m not a monk.  Not yet.

So that’s an update.  What are you learning these days on spending?



  1. Kelly on June 22, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    Cutting down on my advertising intake helps reduce the urge to buy more stuff I don’t really need. Flyers and ads in the newspaper, ads on TV and radio, magazine ads – I really try to avoid these where possible. Works for me.

    • Carey on June 23, 2012 at 6:02 am

      Great practice. Flyers go straight from the mailbox into the recycling bin in the garage at my house.

  2. Jared Herd on June 22, 2012 at 12:25 pm


    I really enjoyed this post. It was very challenging as i’ve sought “freedom from stuff”. thanks for your honesty, rosanna and i are going to read through this together. Missed you in PCB this year. this would have been our week!

    • Carey on June 22, 2012 at 12:43 pm

      Jared…I am totally bummed to miss hanging out with you in PCB this summer. Truly a highlight for me. Hope you are well my friend!

  3. Mary DeMuth on June 22, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Thanks so much for this. I adore this post. I need to do this again.

    • Carey on June 22, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement. Mary, you’ve done this before? Awesome!

  4. christopher gooding on June 22, 2012 at 9:05 am

    great thoughts Carey…thanks for your willingness to be transparent and let us look into your life with you. I had not heard of your “fast” until now but I want to look it over and see if I can have an influence on my family in this regard.

    • Carey on June 22, 2012 at 9:07 am

      Thanks Christopher. I was inspired by my colleague Sarah who at age 24, took on a year long spending fast. Totally challenged me.

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