I participated in a month-long spending freeze this past June and, despite an occasional challenging moment and a bit of internal whining now and then, I enjoyed the experience.

Not only did that challenge bring some growth to my savings account, it also taught or reminded me of a few things about myself:

  • I fret about money and my financial future more than I thought I did. Such fretting is emotionally and, more importantly, spiritually unhealthy.
  • I love a challenge.
  • As much as I love a very detailed, organized system of documenting my behavior, my initial enthusiasm wanes about 1/2-way through a challenge, and I begin to chafe against the tedious accountability system that was initially quite motivating.
  • However, a challenge with a definite end-date seems somewhat “negative” to me; my mind sees the challenge, whether it be a “do more of” or a “do less of”, as a temporary negative I need to endure and then all will be back to my more comfortable normal.

It’s that last realization that has had me thinking the past 61 days, and two very simple principles have framed my pondering. First, I want to minimize my spending to necessities only and a very-limited amount of “fun money”. Additionally, I want to change my mindset and see this change in spending not as something to get through, but as a normal, doable lifestyle.

But how to do that eluded me. Until last night, or I should say, this morning.

At 1:30 this morning, 3 1/2 long hours after I went to bed, I was still wide awake. I had foolishly consumed a jumbo glass of iced sweet tea late in the evening while reading, and I was paying the price for consuming all that sugar, something I normally avoid.

My brain was racing 90 miles per hour, something it is not really accustomed to, and I was despairing of getting any sleep at all, when one random, very rational thought popped into my head.

“Instead of a no-spending time period to endure, how about an open-ended challenge to see how long I can go?”

My delighted (and very tired) brain paused, and I reflected on this idea for awhile before finally falling asleep. One of the last thoughts I remember having was, “Sounds really good, but we’ll see how I feel about it in the morning.”

It’s morning, and I’ve been thinking about this idea since I woke up.

I shared the idea with God this morning, and I thought about it as I did my morning session of physical therapy. I examined it more as I fixed breakfast and tossed it around a bit more as I sorted laundry and straightened the kitchen.

The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. And then, just as I was sitting down to share my new challenge with you, I had one last thought. An idea for tweaking this challenge just a bit in order to meet my goal of creating a new, normal, doable lifestyle.

Ta-da! Here’s my new, exciting personal financial challenge:

I commit to an essentials-only spending plan with a monthly “fun” stipend of $80. This challenge will not end when (because, let’s be honest, it will happen) I slip up; instead, I will learn from any deviations and move forward. 

This new challenge commences with the new month tomorrow.

I’ll update from time to time, and I promise to be transparent and honest with you.

What do you think? Crazy idea? Would you like to join me?

Let me know what you think by commenting below or on my Facebook page (Patti Lincecum Miinch).