Spending Fast 2.0 | Why & How I Will Stop Shopping for a Full Year (again)


Sometimes when I’m looking for a dramatic change, I do something dramatic.

So… here I go again…

I tell you this so I’m accountable. No changing my mind now!

Beginning 01/01/19 I embark on my second 1-year spending fast.

It’s a full year. No buying anything new. I lay ground rules, I challenge my spending habits, and I change. Both on the inside and the outside.


The first time around, I loved the way it changed me. It suffocated greed and reoriented my thinking. Here’s why it was so great for me.

The first time around I was also single.

This time, I’m married, own a house, and have two children.

And this time, I’ve noticed new habits and new greed I want to squash. I’ve noticed some spending patterns I’m not ok with. I’ve noticed thinking patterns that are dangerous – actually, they’re flat-out lies. And I’ve noticed I subconciously think certain things will make me feel better if I buy them, but don’t.

Because – retail therapy isn’t therapy at all.

The truth is, the last quarter of 2018 has been hard. Super hard. There have been moments where I thought life-as-I-know-it might be ripped out from under my feet. My husband, my partner, my love has been off work and nearly on bed-rest for months and we’re not sure why yet. We have hope. We’re still on a path toward healing.

I won’t regale the details here because a) that’s my husband’s story and b) that’s not the purpose of this post c) I’m not trying to cause concern or elicit empathy.

I write this because I’ve noticed something through a season of struggle; my default is to look for security in all the wrong places. 

While my sweet husband has been facing his health challenges, I’ve been fighting my own battle. Some days, it nearly breaks me. It’s just simply the weight of “all the things.”

And with two little ones at home… there are a lot of things.

So what next?

I’m on my own path toward healing. Be pushed to ones limits can certainly reveal ones cracks. I’m not entirely ready to share about that yet, since I’m still in the midst of growing.

But in the middle of this growth and struggle, I’ve noticed something; I just want to “make it better.” Make Justin better. Make everything better. So, you know what I started doing?

I started expecting things to make it better.

I wanted to buy things. Replace things. Upgrade things. Make life easier. More convenient. Better.

I didn’t do anything crazy – but I can see where this is going. And I’m sure it’s not good for me. Things are not my source of security. Things are not what define me. Things are not my source of joy. Things are just that. Things.

To get granular, God is all of that for me. He’s my sense of security, He is who defines me, and He is my deepest source of joy. This is a whole other subject, but things can try to creep into these places they don’t belong.

The first time I did a spending fast, I wanted to be more generous. It changed me from the inside out.

This Spending Fast 2.0 is a financial hygiene reboot – so to speak.

It’s easier than ever to buy things – half the battle is online shopping from the comfort of my home with those perfectly targeted Instagram ads!

In our house, we normally stick to a well-thought-through budget (like what we shared here) but the recent turmoil in life has caused the monthly budgeting to become rough estimates. And blind credit card swipes.

And you know what? I need to refresh my thinking, feeling and spending of money. I need a reboot.

Rules for my Spending Fast 2.0

  • I will not buy anything new for myself OR my kids for 365 days
    • Let’s face it, do they really need any new toys or clothes? Not right now. When they need something – off to Once Upon a Child & Facebook Markeplace I go!
  • If something breaks, I will fix it, borrow it or shop second hand.

Can buy:

  • A new item with a gift card
  • Household products that run out (toiletries, etc)
  • Food & groceries
  • Creative supplies
  • Gifts for others

So that’s it. Sort of simple. Sort of extreme.

But I already know how helpful this can be to reboot my thinking when it comes to greed, spending and consumption.

And I know it can reroute (or re-root 😉) my sense of comfort, security and joy.

Curious? Or need some inspiration?

Reflect on your spending habits and leave a comment by Jan 2nd – I’ll enter you in a draw to win this! 👇🏼

The Year of Less (one of the many reasons I’m inspired to take this challenge again!)



Sarah according to Justin – brings a kindness, compassion and empathy to every conversation she finds herself in. She has a remarkable gift for reaching out and leaving others better than when she met them. She’s also a devoted, patient, and loving wife and mother with a passion for seeing God’s love realized in this world.


  1. Diane

    This week between Christmas & New Years always has be excited to start a new year clean & less cluttered. As we are filling bags of clothes to share & toys to donate, I think of how much money is spent (& wasted) on things that don’t last or serve a temporary purpose. I’m going to try to join you on your spending fast (I have a few things booked that I won’t cancel, so I guess we can call it ‘modified’). The last time I think I did 6 months, which was a really positive amount of time that opened my eyes to habits I wasn’t even conscious of.

    1. Sarah

      Welcome to the club!!!!! Yay Diane!!! Keep me posted on how it’s going. Lay whatever ground rules for yourself that you need to — and keep your current stuff. It’s all good … you get to make your own rules ☺️♥️

  2. Laureen

    Good luck Sarah! This is something my family and I should seriously consider.

    1. Sarah

      Thanks Laureen! ♥️

  3. Marie Ali

    Hi Sarah: I just wanted to share with you what our family did this Christmas. Our adult daughters decided not to buy Christmas gifts for each other or us their parents. I bought the traditional P.J’s., some stocking stuffers and made a Recipe book (keepsake) for each of them. Honestly we had a great Christmas; for me it was more important that everyone be together in harmony and sharing Christmas dinner with each other. None of us missed the insanity of shopping in the malls and spending money that we didn’t have! Thank you for your inspiring blogs Sarah….love and blessings to you and your family.

    1. Sarah

      Amazing!!!! Thanks for sharing this Marie! ♥️

  4. Karlie

    My plan was to do a spending fast for at least the month of January, but I’m feeling like I need to challenge myself more and make it longer. As always, I love your honesty.

    1. Sarah

      Thanks Karlie. And if you want to do it, you can do it! 💪🏼 I’ll be cheering for you whatever you do!

  5. Terri

    I have found myself seeking a fix that comes with buying new things (temporarily) . Especially those things that Amazon etc can have at my door in 48 hours.
    I appreciate your blog post. I am now aware of this dangerous habit and am starting to review my own need vs want list. T

    1. Sarah

      Ooooh Amazon. I know. So convenient! And that’s not a bad thing… it’s just harder to stay aware and set/keep goals. ♥️ All the best as you review your own need vs want lists 😘

  6. Janelle Agnew

    You’ve made me think for sure Sarah; thank you for that. Tyler and I will need to discuss it but I would like to do this too.

    1. Sarah

      That’s great! I’m so glad! ☺️ Thanks Janelle!

  7. Raquel

    Sarah, as always, the person you are and the way you live your life are an inspiration to me. This post both challenged and inspired me. I struggle with budgets and I saw how my spending (even if well intentioned) has gotten out of control, especially during Christmas so I am determined to decrease the amount I spend on pleasure this year (i.e. going out to eat, entertainment, travel, etc). I still have to work out the details like you did but God used your post to remind me that I need to take this seriously. As my youngest sister says, “maturity is the ability to postpone pleasure.” Thank you for sharing your heart.

    1. Sarah

      Thanks Raquel… you can do it! I so love all our chats about budgeting and money! Cheering for you!! 😘

  8. Lisa

    Brilliant idea. I need to consider this. Single parent with teen daughter. Working two jobs just to keep it all going.

    1. Sarah

      Go Lisa! 💪🏼

  9. Tor

    Love this idea!! I think I may have to try it, but starting with a month haha

  10. Tor

    I love this!! I think I shouls try this too, but maybe starting with a month haha xo

    1. Sarah

      A month is a great way to start ☺️

  11. Ashleigh Rivers

    I know what you mean. It’s so easy to spend, especially when faced with pretty packaging and marketing placements. The other day I meant to buy some groceries online, but then went to the physical store and ended up spending$30 MORE than I would have if I’d only stuck to my list and stayed out of the perfectly marketed and aesthetically pleasing grocery store that is Zehrs. My husband and I tried printing out fake money and using that as a physical reminder of how much i was spending (while still paying with a credit card so we can get points). I might go back to that again this month. All the best in your challenge this year, and will be praying things get sorted with Justin’s health!

    1. Sarah

      Thank you so much Ashleigh!! And good for you!! ☺️

  12. Stephanie

    So good Sarah! I can easily get sucked into materialism and for sure DON’T feel better after spending money on a bunch of things. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas. I was curious…does your not spending money on things include experiences such as vacations too? I would love to consider this for the future….would have to get the hubby on board 😉 It would for sure help with the budget as that’s something we’ve struggled with!

    1. Sarah

      Hey Stephanie! Thank you for this! Good question… for me – yes, no buying anything new even on vacation. ☺️ But you can lay your own ground rules together and include exceptions (like vacation! Or a new mattress… or something you already know you need to buy!)

      My hubby just said this morning that he might join me in this! I was going to do it solo, but we will see! ☺️

  13. Catherine

    Love this! I’ve noticed how the online shopping can get addictive. It was sooo convenient for Christmas shopping but then it creeped into other kinds of shopping that aren’t always necessary. I love shopping second hand though for clothes and toys for my boys. It’s so good in many ways -environmental, budget etc. Thanks for sharing Sarah.

    1. Sarah

      Online shopping is sooo convenient for Christmas. I probably did 80% online! But yes — buying has never been so easy. I can be in my pajamas nursing a baby and drop 100’s on Lulu lemon with my fingerprint. 😬😆

  14. Jess

    Sarah, love your honesty and rawness here. Let’s face it, we all have our own battles when it comes to spending money. For me what goes through my mind is “work more, spend less”. Most weeks I find when I work more I spend less because let’s face it, this girl hasn’t got the energy to hit the stores after a day of teaching. However, due to life circumstances ect., this month has been a slower month for work- yes welcome to life as a supply teacher. Honestly, on days off the first thing that pops into mind is let’s go out for some errands which turns into a shopping trip. Such a bad habit! Your post challenged me to think- What if on days off we took things slow and enjoyed it at home or outdoors. In slower times I need to be thankful for what I have and not spend my time thinking what I don’t have. Cheers to days off and spending LESS!

    1. Sarah

      Amazing!! Thanks for this Jess… that’s such a nice idea ♥️

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