First of all, thank you so much for your response to my last post. Your kindness & love meant the world. To those of you who reached out with your own story, please know that I am thinking of you often.
As I said on Thursday, I am jumping in the Contentment Challenge on January 1. The challenge was originally created by Nancy Ray in 2013. I walked through the 3 month challenge the beginning of 2014. It’s been 2 years, and I’m ready to jump in again. This time, however, I’m going to double it & challenge myself to stick to it for 6 months (Jan 1 – June 30, 2017).
Now, what IS the Contentment Challenge? The Contentment Challenge is a fast from all unnecessary spending in your life. It’s a hiatus from purchasing unnecessary things – a chance to remember that what you have is truly is enough.
Each month will have a theme & there will be a challenge to go along with the theme. Nancy created the first three themes that I will be using (since her original challenge is 3 months long). The first three themes will be Gratitude, Generosity & Freedom, respectively. I plan to follow the challenges she created for each theme, and am also praying over additional challenges that are along the lines of “waiting” (my word of the year & my reason for embarking on the challenge).
Each month I will blog the theme & challenges to hold myself accountable & invite you to join me! After those first three months, I will either (a) repeat the 3 themes for months 4-6 or (b) include 3 new themes. I want to see how my heart is when I am IN the challenge before deciding what I will do. I want to allow freedom for growth during the challenge before setting themes for months 4-6.
As I said, I’m participating in the challenge from the approach of waiting – learning to be content in the wait. I’m also taking a slightly different approach because I will be doubling the length of the challenge from 3 months to 6 months. Because I am planning to do the challenge for so long, I wanted to have guidelines in place for all spending so that I can stay on track (outside of the monthly theme). I will have a written set of guidelines/goals to help me walk through the challenge, and a monthly theme to help my heart stay on track! (Can you tell I’m Type A?!)
I sat down & created a set of my own guidelines & goals to follow. I suggest you do the same thing! Here are a few tips when creating your guidelines & goals:
– Look at WHERE your money went in 2016. It’s humbling, let me tell you. Ask yourself: How much did you spend in Target in 2016? How many grande lattes did you enjoy?
– Look at WHERE you NEED your money to go. This would be necessary spending like your mortgage, a reasonable grocery bill, car payment, health insurance, etc..
– Look at your BUSINESS: what are the fixed expenses already your plate for the next 3-6 months? This would be things like your website, business insurance, monthly overhead costs like rent/payroll, any educational expenses or travel expenses already planned or budgeted for, etc..
After I answered these questions, I had a pretty good idea at not only where my money SHOULD go, but where it WAS going (and sometimes those two were not the same thing!)! I then sat down and wrote my guidelines & goals. Some things are hard & fast, some things allowed for wiggle-room.
Here are my guidelines:
– Absolutely no clothes for 6 months. This is hard & fast for me because I have a closet overflowing. Clothes are a bad habit & I have more than enough. This is also going to be VERY, VERY hard to follow. I’m going to need a lot of accountability on this one, y’all. (I’m literally trying hard to not delete this one as I write it, ha.)
– Absolutely no jewelry, purses, shoes, or makeup for 6 months. The only exceptions are foundation & face wash/lotion (since I’m bound to run out in 6 months time!)!
– Absolutely no shampoo, conditioner or unnecessary hair products. I always get talked in to something at the salon! I have a jumbo size of shampoo – I’m fine for more than 6 months!!
– 3 Starbucks/Coffee drinks per month. I have meetings in Starbucks & sometimes I like to get out of the house & work in Starbucks. This guidelines allows for me to still have those trips in my life, but within reason. (Oh and once I hit my quota for the month, no more starbs! And if I don’t hit my quota, it does not roll over to the next month!)
– Spending allowances for all trips. I have 6 amazing trips planned between Jan-June. 5 are business & 1 is personal. I sat down & created a budget for each one (my budget includes food and any additional spending). For instance, I’m heading to Waco, TX in April for Illume! I’m planning to go to Magnolia Market (yay!) & allotted $100 for that shopping trip since I don’t know when I will ever be in Waco again! (This is an example of flexibility within your guidelines. Just because I’m not spending in Target, doesn’t mean I can’t allow a budget for Magnolia Market! Be flexible with yourself & your trips/schedule over the course of the challenge! Writing them down NOW helps you stay on track & not feel guilty or “break a rule”.)
– $9.99/month iTunes Radio. I’m in my car a lot, I also work from home & listen to music a lot. I talked to Matt and we decided that this was an “unnecessary” I could keep on the list because of my work/travel circumstances.
– 1 book/month on Kindle or Nook but ONLY in months 4-6. I have so many books currently on my Kindle app that I have not read. I also have a pile on my nightstand. While I DO want to read more in 2017, I need to read what I have first! I get “book envy” a lot; if I see someone post about a book they love, I have to have it – and that unnecessary want needs to stop.
– Absolutely no Target Dollar Aisle Purchases or Random “Oh it’s so pretty” Purchases in Target. None. Nada. Zip. It is a black hole of cuteness that takes my money. And it stops on January 1!!!
– No Business Investments (software, education, tools, etc). Now, please hear me out. Business investments/expenses can be very good things! Investing in Honeybook & Planoly changed my business; attending workshops & hiring mentors has shaped my business! For 2017, I’ve already hired those I need/want to hire for the first half of the year. I’m working with Ashlyn and With Grace & Gold, and participating in The Propel Series & Illume Retreat. All of which will be incredible & I can’t WAIT!! I need to be content with what I have; I can’t get FOMO (fear of missing out) when I see what someone else is doing. I have HUGE goals for my company that are requiring to me VERY financially savvy right now. I need to keep that BIG goal in mind!
(Tip: Look at your 2017 right now! Look at where YOU want to invest for your business – make a list! Write it down! Set your sites NOW on your educational goals & any software/tools/equipment you need/want. Budget for it NOW so you feel PREPARED to make the leap & don’t have buyers remorse after a big purchase!)
– The only additional Business Expense not already accounted for will be to (hopefully) hire a bookkeeper by March. This is a HUGE goal of mine!!!! Fingers crossed I can bring someone on to take over this mundane but necessary task!!!!
– Any other purchase of “things” or “stuff” will have to be approved by my husband. I know this might not work for some of you, but Matt and I are very much a “team” with our finances. We have one checking & savings account & we share credit cards. We don’t do “his” and “mine” – we have “ours”. He handles our personal budget (thank goodness) and is slowly taking over my business finances (HUGE PRAISE). He is the most frugal man I know (hand picked for me, y’all) and the chance of him saying “yes” to my request to spend is RARE. So this guideline basically cuts out EVERYTHING for me!!:) If your husband isn’t the frugal one, I suggest finding an accountability partner who is (or email me & use Matt, ha!).
Here are my goals:
– Read Wait & See, Grace Not Perfection, The Magnolia Story, Knowing God, Breaking Free and Make It Happen. In line with my previous guideline, these are 6 books I already own & have put off reading for far too long. 6 books, 6 months. I might read them faster than 1/month & if I do, I’ll add more!:)
– Volunteer for the children’s program at my church. I’ve thought about this one a lot in the last few months, and I feel the Lord laying it on my heart. I think He wants me to see the JOY in it, and not allow bitterness to take over. So, I signed up to volunteer in 2017.
– Pray specific prayers and write them down. Praying is hard for me. Really hard. And I keep being asked: “How can I pray for you specifically?” – by being asked that question, I’m realizing that He’s okay with specific prayers. It doesn’t mean He will answer the way I think. But I need to not be AFRAID to pray. So my goal is to pray for SPECIFIC things (Example: the number of attendees I hope to attend Creative at Heart). I can pray & He will listen, and answer in His time.
– Fill out my Monthly Powersheets. I’m already doing the prep-work & so, so excited about it, y’all!!
(I’m still praying over & pondering a few more goals before I write them down. If I decide to include them, I’ll add them to this post!)
At the end of March, I plan to re-evaulate this list. I will make any necessary adjustments (based on both life & heart changes) for months 4-6. I will share any adjustment made when we hit that half-way point!
WHEW! Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t!! Honestly, friends, while I know this is going to be HARD, I feel ready. I feel excited. I can’t wait to see what happens.
Are you joining me for this 2017 Contentment Challenge?
Question? Still feeling unsure? Comment on this post or shoot me an email! firstname.lastname@example.org
PS. x2 If you are joining me, please use #ContementChallenge2017 so I can follow along!