Having a No-Spend Lent to Grow in Holiness

A Holy Ash Wednesday 2017 to you! As promised in Monday’s post, How We Lent, we’re here to explain our No-Spend Lent to you! Rachel has mentioned the concept of a No-Spend Month before (see her post entitled Yikes, It’s Budget Time Again!! for more information). This year, we’re really drawn to extend the challenge of a No-Spend Month into a No-Spend Lent. I think about this every year, but it’s my first time to do it. Rachel’s a No-Spend veteran by now, so she’s going to explain it.

 

Rachel Explains What No-Spend Means

A No-Spend Month is exactly what it sounds like: you don’t spend any extra money from your income. It can sound intense at the start, but it’s not as complicated as it sounds. Actually, it’s really easy to do if you get organized.

The first thing you do for this adventure is to write down all of your bills for that month. You pay all of your bills—everything—then you look at necessities like food, gas, and tithing. Budget out for those necessities (we take the cash out and put them in envelopes); then put away your debit card. If you only carry around cash, then you are more aware of what you are buying.

What do you do with the money not being spent on bills and necessities? Any extra money is up to your family to allocate. You could save for a home project, new car, vacation, paying off debt, building your savings…use that extra money for whatever helps build up your family and its goals.

 

Kristi’s No-Spend Why

I’m intrigued by the concept of freezing all discretionary spending. It’s actually brilliant. We sat down to budget into January this year, so we overspent slightly that month, as our limits and categories came into existence after the fact. Initially, I chose this option to “make up” what we’d overspent.

 

But as I began to think about this Lent, I decided that I wanted to simplify. I want less stuff in the house, a more open schedule, and a deeper faith life. A No-Spend Lent makes so much sense, then, because I’m not spending my money on stuff or experiences that cost time and money. I’m also not spending my money on things that ultimately distract me from the true life I’m called to as a Christian. The money that I’m saving can be applied to more tithing or helping those around me in need.

 

Rachel’s No-Spend Why

We are firm believers that we should be debt free; to us, owing money is a form of addiction. The Scientist and I believe that owing money is stopping us from truly living our life for God.

The more we spend paying down our debt, the closer we become. It brings us together as a team to win the goals and expectations that we set for our family. Being able to help those financially is something we really think is important; not only with our own family, but to strangers that are in need.

This strategy also teaches us how to strengthen ourselves against some of our bad habits of selfishness, materialism, and not exercising empathy towards others. When we are only focusing on ourselves by buying things we want and have to have, we are not looking up and around to those who need our help.

 

Kristi’s Theoretical No-Spend Survival Hopes

  • Library—there are computers with interactive games, actual toys, and some pretty sweet children’s activities. There are also new DVD releases available for check out and—of course—books. Little Miss has just discovered Nancy Drew (much to Rachel’s delight), so there’s plenty there to entertain us.
  • Parks and Church Events—we have a ton of parks in our city and its three very nearby border cities as well as a lake that provide a wonderful place to play and exercise as a family. Our parish hosts weekly Lenten talks and the Stations of the Cross that are wonderful, too.
  • Freezer & Pantry For the Win—we’ve got a lot of food in the freezer and the pantry from bulk buying when it’s on sale (see these posts on Shopping Smarter and Organization & Saving Money on Groceries for more information), so even though we’re spending money on groceries during this challenge, our grocery bill should see a significant drop as we conserve our monetary resources by consuming our edible, perishable ones.
  • Prayer—we’ll be spending extra time in prayer to grow as a family, remember those less fortunate than us, surround ourselves in God’s Word, grow closer to God, and to sustain us on this journey.

 

Rachel’s Tried & True No-Spend Survival Tips

  • Begin with the Goal—with the money that we save or any extra income that we make, we put it towards our debt. We are a one-income family, so we are budgeters, and we plan for everything. If we make it through the month with extra money in our budget, we put that money (and what we’ve saved) towards debt and start over again.
  • Plan for the Unplanned—life always seems to throw something in our way, so we just have a small budget set aside for a surprise. This challenge helps us build up that “surprise” fund.
  • Look for God—when we cut out all of our extra activities, we are spending time not only bringing our family together but focusing on our prayer life together. We are intently choosing our time to do more activities together. I’m really excited to learn what God has in store for us over these next 40 days.

 

That’s our No-Spend Lent challenge and we are definitely gonna need your prayers! Anyone willing to join us in this endeavor? Have you ever done a No-Spend Month? Join the conversation here by leaving a comment below or head over to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest to hang out with us there. Remember to use #HowWeLent!

 

Kristi & Rachel

 

P.S. Hey! Thanks to you we’re growing a TON on social media. We’d love to get some feedback from you on how we’re doing so far, so if you don’t mind, please take a few minutes to fill out this survey. It’s totally anonymous and only five questions but will help with future content. Thanks!

About The Author

Hail Marry Blog

We’re Kristi & Rachel: best friends married to two awesome guys that we met on Catholic Match.

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