the contentment challenge | a month of no shopping

Ever since I can remember, I have been one hell of a shopper. New clothes, shoes, stationery, home decor, gifts, craft supplies, ALL THE THINGS. I want it, I buy it. Shopping for me is like any other addiction. It gives me a temporary relief. It is a distraction from reality. It's a great way to pass the time when I am procrastinating on tasks I don't feel like doing. I am an emotional shopper. It helps me feel better when I am sad and makes a happy occasion even happier .. for a moment. Shopping is just a band-aid fix on the real problem at hand and a distraction from doing the real, soulful work I should be doing.

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In my early twenties, I went through some things that caused me to pretty much always want a distraction and lift in my mood. As a result, I racked up some credit card debt. I am fortunate that it is not a HUGE debt, but it is still debt nonetheless. Now that I am older and wiser, I see the folly in my retail therapy ways. I'm still paying on some of the debt that I incurred and it is increasingly frustrating.
As I've grown in my spiritual journey, I've started to figure out the reasons why shopping is such a problem for me. Knowing doesn't always help, though. I still use shopping as a therapeutic outlet every so often (although, not NEARLY as much as I used to).  

Earlier this year, a sweet friend (the amazing Laura Barnes, of Laura Barnes Photo) posted about a "contentment challenge" where she would be giving up personal shopping for the entire month of February. It felt like divine intervention for me, and a perfect opportunity to challenge myself and be held accountable to my goal. I quickly messaged her and told her I was IN! 

The challenge is simple, no personal spending (groceries, bills, etc do not count) for the month of February. Finding contentment in what you already have, and moving toward a more simple, intentional way of life. Easy enough, right? Well, kind of. 

The challenge was pretty difficult for me, as I am an Amazon addict! I have the Amazon Prime credit card, so not only is it SO EASY to make a purchase, I also get reward points every time. Fortunately, for me I have an amazing accountability partner! Laura has been a wonderful cheerleader and friend through the process. If it weren't for her, I would have absolutely cheated by now!  

I used my budget tracker within my banking app (for the first time .. embarrassingly enough) to track my progress. My jaw hit the floor when I saw my spending this month compared to my average. Check it out!

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Whoa! Quite the difference! And all the money I'm saving by not drowning my feelings in the sale section is going straight toward debt. The $39.99 I have spent in this category was a $20 app I forgot to unsubscribe from after the trial period (oops) and payment for a purchase I technically made in January, so I'm not being too hard on myself about it. I use the app almost everyday, so it has proven to be a worthwhile purchase.

Laura and I have both made some great strides this month. So much so, we are both interested in doing it again in March! 
Are you up for the contentment challenge? Let me know in the comments!