Today I Start My Spending Fast

Spending Fast

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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. I have enough. I really do. Far more than enough.
  5. 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:

  1. I won’t buy any new clothes, only second hand clothes, and even then, only if I absolutely need it.
  2. Zero in technology, new or used, unless something breaks and I actually can’t work without it.
  3. No new personal items at all (things you like to have but don’t need).
  4. 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.
  5. I will buy one new suit.  My oldest son is getting married and that’s the exception.
  6. 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?



  1. […] ever heard the term “spending fast,” chances are someone’s inspired you. For Carey Nieuwhof’s experiment, it was Sarah Flemming’s year. For me, it was Ashleigh Sauve’s […]

  2. Daniel Misdom on March 27, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    I haven’t done a spending fast, but 2012 for me was the year of being thankful (I notice one of your second points is about being grateful).
    From January 1 to December 31 I posted one thing I was thankful (via Facebook and Twitter) every day. What I learnt was far too profound to share in a few lines here. What I will say is that I’m a changed person because of this. I gained perspective and lost self interest!

  3. Bobbi Whitehouse Miller on March 10, 2013 at 10:42 am

    I love that…I’ve been thinking about it…or rather maybe God has been bringing it to my mind ever since reading Jen Hatmaker’s book “7”. At some point…I need to stop just acknowledging His prompting and step out in faith and just do it.

  4. Scott on March 24, 2012 at 10:27 am

    If this idea takes off and others join in it may cause grief to local retailers, but think of what this might accomplish in the souls of those who participate!

    I must admit Carey that this idea strikes me as both incredibly bold, and incredibly intimidating!

    Thanks for helping to blase the trail. It will be interesting to see how many others have the courage to join in with this, or another form of fast.

  5. Michelle Clare on March 23, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    This is awesome. I have toyed with not buying any new clothes for a year but never done it. It was cool to read that some one, now 2 people have! May have to chew on it some more! Good luck! On another note does this mean your wife gets an iPhone 5 this fall? 🙂

    • Carey on March 24, 2012 at 12:35 am

      Thanks Michelle. Im sure others have done it but Sarah is the first I’d heard of. And as to the phone, probably. That was a great question. 🙂

  6. Joseph Sangl on March 23, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Absolutely incredible!!!

    • Carey on March 24, 2012 at 12:34 am

      Joe, thanks. Your support of Sarah in this has been inspiring! And your support of Connexus too!

  7. Kaye Birnie on March 23, 2012 at 11:12 am

    That should be an interesting year for you Carey, I am picturing a commercial for GEICO right now, grade 8 popular kids following a guy around as he has arranged to help him lose weight, everything he trys to eat, they show up and say “really? that’s totally gross!” You will have plenty of folks trying to remind you , if they know.

    Good for you, I am currently reading TO BE PERFECTLY HONEST, by Phil Callaway where he journals about the year he vowed to be perfectly honest, great book and funny too, he got quite alot out of it. Maybe this venture will end up as a book opportunity for you also. Have a good year, be strong, I know you can do it.

    • Carey on March 23, 2012 at 11:34 am

      Kaye…thanks. Fortunately food is not included in this fast so we might get some Kawartha Dairy ice cream in at MBL. 🙂

  8. trevor on March 23, 2012 at 9:46 am

    I’ll be following this project with interest – I hope you blog about it as you go!

    One thing you may find is that entertainment (music, etc.) doesn’t HAVE to cost anything, especially if you’re willing to be a participant instead of a consumer.

    There’s a whole world of free culture out there. Check out creative-commons-licensed music. Get used to to giving and receiving on freecycle or kijiji. Go join in a drumming circle down by the lake. Come along to one of the city’s open-mic nights, such as those organized by

    Learn to think of yourself as a person, not a ‘consumer’, and identify yourself by what you do rather than what you buy.

    You’re not a cyclist because you own the latest carbon-fiber road machine, you’re a cyclist because you get outside and bike, right?

    Good luck on your journey!

    • Carey on March 23, 2012 at 11:33 am

      Thanks Trevor. I will give periodic updates. Appreciate your perspective. It will be a learning curve and change for me for sure.

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