Intentional Living

How I Survived A NO-SPEND Month

Stitches & Words | How I Survived a No-Spend Month

I started my year with a shopping detox, and I survived!

What is a NO-SPEND month?

A no-spend challenge is an undertaking to spend only on necessities, or to refrain from spending on specific categories, for a specified amount of time. The intention is generally to cut-back on specific types of expenses, but it could also be a means to evaluate and reframe spending habits, or taken as an opportunity to look at one’s attitude towards shopping.

In my case, I decided the whole month of January 2019 to be my no-spend month. In part, I feel like it may not have been the best time to do it because so many brands go on Clearance Sale after the holidays. On the other hand, it could also have been the ideal season to do it, because I saved a 100% on the stuff I didn’t buy – and we most likely didn’t really need them.

Having said that, perhaps it was all the sales happening online and in-stores that made me think for a second that I wasn’t going to be able to pull through. But I did!

How I Survived A Whole Month Without Shopping

To say I didn’t spend anything in the month of January 2019 would be a lie. But I can definitely state for the record that any spending I did were for our day-to-day necessities or were pre-planned expenses (like me pairs of flip-flops). For someone who does a lot of online shopping (me!) that is really tough. If you would like to do a similar challenge, here are my tips for success:

Set your WHY

This has to be the most important step – set your intentions for taking on a no-spend challenge. You must be very clear of your goals, and why you want to do it. Without the Y, you are likely going to fail.

Why I did No-Spend January – My husband and I earn a decent income. It definitely affords us a comfortable (for us) lifestyle, and funds our hobbies and interests. But believe it or not, we don’t have a lot saved up. I was not hoping to “save money” through this exercise (I had already decided to reduce my shopping budget for the year) but I did want to stand back and re-evaluate my spending habits. I want to do all the things, but I also want to be more intentional with what I spend money on, and what I make space for in my life. Staying away from any unnecessary spending for a whole month was a way for me to reflect on that.

Identify Triggers, and Stay Away

It is important to dig deep (okay, maybe not even) and find out your triggers for unnecessary, and/or impulsive shopping. For me, it’s Instagram. And I don’t mean those influencers with curated feeds, but actual online sellers with IG as their platform.

Thanks to my favorite Plus-Size seller on Instagram, I have quite a lot of clothes that fit, and that spark joy. 🙂 I ordered a lot from her last year, even when I had no plans to. My shopping style was this:

  • Seller posts new clothes up for sale
    • Is it my size? Yes. Mine!
    • Refresh feed.
    • Is it in my size? Yes. Mine!

And I follow more than one plus-size seller – so that could happen multiple times a month! And I also have a favorite book seller, a few local bag-makers, and then those lovely accessories too. If I surrounded myself with those triggers, it would be a little more difficult to say no to spending. I didn’t unfollow them but I did turn off notifications. I also stopped myself from visiting their profiles when they start popping-up on my feed with new stuff on sale.

It’s also a good idea to stay away from the mall. Out of sight, out of mind.

The hubby was due to get some new clothes and we decided to hit SM North’s 3-day sale last month and take advantage of the discounts. I didn’t think I could walk away without a personal purchase, but we made it happen. We had also done a few trips to Greenhills (his errands), and I am proud to say that I was satisfied with just looking, and not buying.

Make A List, Check It Twice

It is not uncommon to suddenly realize or remember that there is actually something that you just absolutely must have. I’d say, make a list and sleep on it. Check your list and evaluate if it’s a need or a want. Ask yourself why you need it. Sleep on it some more.

If you still feel that you neeed it after checking it twice, go ahead and buy it. No-spend month or not, if you need it, then you must have it. But be honest with yourself here.

Let The World Know

Okay, maybe the whole world doesn’t need to know, but at least let significant people in your circle know about your challenge. I didn’t tell anyone right away that I was doing this, but it helps to let people know so you could have help to keep yourself accountable.

If I didn’t tell my husband I was doing a no-spend month, he would have enabled my shopping. For sure.

My Takeaways

Just Because I Can, Doesn’t Mean I Should

Shopping definitely makes me happy. And we tend to do more of the stuff that fills us with joy.

I have always been plus-sized and, unfortunately, there hasn’t always been a good source of nice and affordable clothes that fit me. So when I find pieces I like in my size – I grab them and take them to the counter! I end up buying so much because I fear of missing out. Sayang naman kasi. But now there’s a lot of options out there! I can shop online, and at the mall.

But just because they’re available, and I can afford to buy stuff, it doesn’t mean that I should. Specially not when I don’t need them.

As much joy buying stuff gives me, I have to remind myself that there are also other things that do – like having an emergency fund, getting to use up my stash of scrapbooking supplies, seeing our space cleaned up and organised (no matter how brief it stays that way), traveling, hanging out with family and friends. I must keep in mind that seeing stuff pile up and not being used does not make me feel good at all.

Shopping List

I’ve done a bit of destashing prior to January, so I have a good idea of what’s in my closet. This also gave me an idea of what else I really need, like a really good pair of jeans. That goes on my running shopping list. This is a hand-written list of things I have on the back pages of my Passion Planner, and these are stuff I will allow myself to shop for, for the rest of the year. Not everything on that list will necessarily be purchased. See tip #3 above. I will check that list more than twice, and evaluate the need for each item, and set aside funds for it.

This is true also for any gadgets and items for hobbies, or for the home. It’s easy to succumb to impulse buying but if I tell myself I’d put it on the list for later consideration, it helps avoid the wasteful spending.

We already know the value of having a shopping list helps when doing groceries, there’s no reason why it won’t be a good idea for everything else.

Stop the FOMO

When you don’t hit the weekend markets, the bazaars, the sales, and even the latest zero-waste or sustainable fair, you’re not missing out.

I skipped The Good Trade fair last month despite looking forward to it for weeks, because I realized that I don’t want to turn my zero-waste efforts into just another reason to go shopping. After all, to keep amassing stuff you don’t need completely contradicts the concept of zero-waste living.

Prompted by a reminder from the good folks of The Good Trade, I looked at my list of things I thought I needed to get at the Fair and realized I didn’t really have to go.  

If course, if I were going there with friends and we can make a day of it, why not! It would have been a great way to encourage others in my circle to move towards a more sustainable lifestyle. But it wasn’t the case for that weekend. So I missed it, and I was okay.

Be More Intentional

Perhaps my biggest takeaway is this: being intentional in every way, including spending money, is key to a fuller life. Splurging on a few priced things every once in a while, may be a better reward than buying a few little things too often.

Of course I have done some shopping since the month ended (we’re almost through February now) but I have no guilt feelings about those purchases. I know there will be a lot less shopping in the next two to three months, at least. The best feeling though, is knowing you say no to buying something not out of budgetary considerations (that’s good too, though) but more because you know you don’t really need or want it.

Thanks for reading!

Would you consider doing a no-spend month? Or is there a specific expense category you’d like to cut-back on? I would love to hear about it!



Passion Planner 2019

This is my third year being a bonafide #PashFam member!

Stitches & Words | Passion Planner 2019 - my Atrium Red Planner
Stitches & Words | Passion Planner 2019 – my Atrium Red Planner

Craft the Life I Love

I really do think that using a Passion Planner has helped me focus on crafting the life I love. That is not to say that I have accomplished everything I set out to do (or want to), because I AM SO FAR FROM THAT! But using my Passion Planner daily and working on a spread at the start (or end) of each week has helped me reflect on how I spend my time. In turn, this helped me to want to make time for activities that mean more to me. Slowly I find that my ‘productivity’ is slowly reflecting my ‘priority.’

In 2017, I wrote about Why I love my Passion Planner. And I think now, on my third year, I just love it all the more. I had my doubts about the new “Pro” size which is now the only size new planners come in, but it’s growing on me. I specially like that it weighs less and fits in my bag/s better.

I chose the Atrium Red dated planner (Monday start). $1 from each red planner sold is donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. My maternal Lola was afflicted with AML and I really pray that there be better, more affordable treatments for blood cancers, and all other types of cancer.

Planning as Self-Care

Along with my Sunday Night Journal,one of the ways I practice self-care these days is by setting aside time each week to reflect on the week that was, and to map out what’s coming next. This is helping me look at what I am grateful for, and to look forward to the coming days. I usually do these on Sunday nights, or Monday mornings (since the work week officially starts Monday evening, anyway).

Tools for Success

In previous years, I didn’t feel like I maximised the back pages of my Passion Planner all that much. Last year, I did enjoy creating tracker pages and lists on so I am carrying that on for this year.

I’ve also attached a few pages of Elise Cripe’s habit tracker for those daily habits I’d love to cultivate and build on. Subscribe to her newsletter to get the free download! I love her getting her newsletters, there’s always something in there that sparks my interest. Oh and I love her Instagram feed too!

Here’s a quick flip-thru my weekly spreads so far this year, and the trackers, planning pages, and lists I’ve set up:


If you are using a Passion Planner, I would love to see how you use it! If not, (why?!), what do you use for planning?

The Good Trade Fair – October 2018

Just as we did back in July, we went all the way to Central Square at the Bonifacio Global City last week for The Good Trade fair. It’s a weekend pop-up of small businesses espousing a zero-waste and sustainable lifestyle.

I finally restocked on the first organic deodorant I’ve used that didn’t have me worrying about smelly pits after a long day – Zero Basics Deodorant is all natural, keeps you dry and smell-free for 24 hours (maybe more), and doesn’t leave chemical residue that darkens your pits. Believe me, I have tried deodorants from a couple other local organic brands and this is the best so far.

One bottle will go a long way, unfortunately for me, I dropped my first bottle which is why I needed to restock so soon. Sa totoo lang, ikinalungkot ko yun. The bottle was still more than half full, and I just really had such a good product experience. My deo of choice used to be Dove Original. I love its powdery smell. I was quite happy with it except that the container ends up in a landfill and will probably exist longer than I will. So I made the switch. 

This one comes in an amber glass bottle with a spray nozzle and is refillable at a discount. Zero-waste, and cost-effective. 

I also got a pair of bamboo toothbrushes from the Zero Waste Hub, and filled a bottle that I brought with me with peppermint hand soap from Ritual.Ph. I love that there were a number of brands there that allowed for package-free, buy-what-you-need purchases. It does feel a little weird to already be lugging a shopping bag of empty containers BEFORE you do any actual shopping, but it really wasn’t all that bad, and not an inconvenience.  

It was also great to see Anthill Fabric weaves up close and personal. I didn’t buy any this time because sizes do tend to be for the average Pinay (translation: maliit para sa’kin), and they do cost considerably more than fast-fashion options.  I have my eye on a couple of pieces that I might save up for a custom order though. 

It was also great to dialogue with some of the shop owners and learn a little bit more of their products and advocacies. I was really trying to be intentional with my shopping and didn’t want to just purchase whatever I fancied – but there are definitely new-to-me brands that are now on my radar ?

What these fairs do, really, is make us more aware of the small changes we can do that can have great impact in reducing plastic waste, and leading a sustainable lifestyle that will be friendlier to Mother Earth. I was really looking for an alternative to dishwashing sponges. We go through one of those every couple of weeks and I know there’s a better alternative out there. I was hoping to find wood brushes or those abaca scrubs that weekend. Sadly, whatever stocks were available had already been sold out.  

Luckily, the Daily Convos Shop had these:

I didn’t buy any. But the lady who makes them was nice enough to talk to me about her products. I mentioned that I’m a yarn hoarder and could probably make one for myself. She recommended using cotton thread and even told me about how to keep these scrubbies clean and sanitized so they can be used for a long time.

SO I made a couple of squares to try. I actually still have a few sponges for backup but so far, the scrubbies are holding up and doing the job just fine. We have a silicone pot scrubber that we got from Taiwan for the tougher stains so I’m hoping that this is a switch we can do without any hassles. I just have to convincethe hubby to use the scrubbies instead of the sponge. 

I made a couple more to give to a friend to test-drive too. Friends and family out there who would love to switch too, I can make a couple for you as Christmas presents, just let me know!

Eat Well, Sleep More

I really truly thought I haven’t been this stress-free in so long. 

Until I got sick and the doctor told me that people get ATP when they’re under a lot of stress.

Sure, work isn’t as physically and mentally draining as it used to be for me (thank GOODNESS for that!), but there are other stressors around.  I figured that for me it was not sleeping enough and (sometimes) over fasting.

Having trouble sleeping

It’s been over a year since my Sleep Apnea diagnosis, yet unfortunately, I haven’t made much progress in creating habits to promote better sleep quality. Heck, I don’t even use my CPAP regularly. And I should. The sleep doctor recommended that I use that machine everyday, and even during travel.

When I got sick, I noticed an increased challenge in getting myself to relax and ease into slumber. At times, I even felt anxious. Of what, I couldn’t really tell.

My Fitbit comes with a Sleep Tracker, and if it’s accurate, I’m only getting an average of 3 hours of sleep. I have more Awake and Restless hours logged than actual Sleep! 

Getting enough rest and quality sleep should be a priority. No matter where you are in your life right now, it’s important to accept this. Getting sick, and being instructed by the doctor to rest at home for three days (without doing ANY work), is a sure way to get one to take this seriously. But we shouldn’t really wait for any Medical issues or emergencies before we take heed.

What happens we don’t get enough sleep?

This is Your Body Without Sleep (infographic) - see Pinterest link for image credits

This Is Your Body Without Sleep (Infographic)

Virtually everyone has experienced the negative effects of a bad night’s sleep: grogginess, crankiness, lack of focus and a host of other nasty feelings that hover over your body and mind the entire

So you see, there is A LOT riding on getting the right amount of shut-eye regularly. Our well-being depends on it.

Deliberately sleeping less

But I get it. Sleeping 8 hours or more daily means spending a third of our lifetime in bed. And when you’re dreaming big, and have so much to accomplish, that seems like too much time wasted.

So we try to make our days longer by cheating ourselves of a few minutes of sleep. Then we find that we need more time to do the things we want to do, so we wake up earlier, and go to bed later. And it keeps going on and on and on.

We tell ourselves: Oh I’m okay with just four hours of sleep. We convince ourselves that we can function just as well with four hours as we would if we had eight hours of sleep. But do we, really?

Skipping Meals

Have I mentioned that I recently lost about 40 pounds? That’s over the course of a year. The most weight I have lost and kept off EVER. Yay me.

I got here by eating well, and incorporating exercise into my routine. There’s actually a ways to go to get to my ideal weight (the answer to many health issues, apparently) but already, I know that I am in a good place in terms of my health and well-being.

My wellness plan involves having three balanced meals a day. There’s a prescribed timing for meals, but we’re cautioned not to starve ourselves. The problem is, I have unintentionally been skipping meals while at work the past few weeks. Doing so hasn’t helped me lose more weight. Instead, it just put me at more risk for getting sick. And get sick, I did.

That day I started having chills, and complained of a very sore throat, my husband immediately pointed out that I must not have been eating well. He accused me of skipping meals! I was on the defensive right away – telling him that that was against my wellness plan. But when the doctor was asking me questions around the same topic, I had to stop and really think about what I had been doing in more recent weeks. I had to admit to myself that yes, indeed I have been skipping meals to the point where I was starving. And I should have known better.

Purpose and Priority

Think about this: Instead of deliberately depriving yourself of sleep, how can you make more out of 16 hours that you’re already awake? Take an accounting of each 15- or 30-minute block of your waking hours and ask yourself: does the time you spend on the things you do, represent the life you want to live?

Do your current actions take you closer to your goals?

It isn’t easy. First you need to determine what you want to achieve. Have you painted your big picture? Do you know where you want to go?

Knowing your purpose, setting your intention, makes it easier to decide what your priority is. It makes tough decisions easier to make, like how you spend each minute, and with whom you spend it with.

If you haven’t decided yet what your big goals are, then maybe you can make to prioritize. So you can spend less time doing unimportant stuff, and have more time for what matters most – including rest and sleep.

As for me, I have my Passion Road Map (thanks to my Passion Planner). It’s still changing from time to time, and I’m not sure that I’ve already found my purpose in life, but I understand the general direction I want to head towards. But I’ve realized too that I will not achieve my goals, or it will take a lot of extra effort to do so, if I keep pushing my body to the limit without giving it the proper nourishment, exercise, and rest that it needs.

So getting better sleep, and NOT skipping meals, are currently my priority. Locking these down help assure that I will have the physical and mental energy, for everything else I need to do.

How about you? How much sleep do you get? And do you eat three balanced meals daily?

 

How we saved up for Travel

This is our Travel Money Jar. Today, it is nearly empty but there is no reason to be sad. After all, this empty Travel jar means that our travel memory banks are full!

You see, it’s nearly empty because we used its former contents to fund our recent trip to Puerto Princesa, Palawan. And what an amazing trip that was!

We got a really good deal on airfare for this trip back in November 2017. As soon as I learned of PAL’s seat sale, I let Mom know right away so we can take the trip together. Just a couple of months prior to the trip date, I reached out to an old classmate of mine from grade school who is in the Tourism Industry in PP. She hooked me up with a local travel agent to make arrangements for the hotel and tours.

52 Weeks Money Savings Challenge

A couple years ago, the 52 Weeks Money Savings Challenge became viral.

The concept: Save an incremental amount of money weekly, and enjoy your lump sum savings at the end of the year. One can start with a small amount that increases each week (50 pesos on the first week, and increase the amount by PHP 50 increments weekly), or start with the biggest amount, and work your way down.

It’s our second year now of doing this challenge. We chose to specifically allocate the savings for our Travel fund, and physically stash cash in a repurposed jar of Mayo.

The husband and I are both doing the challenge, so we started with 50 pesos each at the very beginning. If we miss one week, we make up for it on the next. To stay on top of the challenge, we use the 52 Weeks Money Challenge App.

Both the husband and I have the app on our phones, so every week, I enter the actual amount we each deposit. If we needed to borrow cash for emergency spending in the house, we record it through the app too.

To start off, you will need to enter the following:

  • Motivation/Goal – Travel, a new TV, or Downpayment for a new house, or whatever you fancy
  • Saving Method – Start low, or start high
  • Base Unit/amount – we chose 50 pesos, to get a substantial amount for our travel goals, but you can choose a lower amount depending on your end goal and capacity.
  • Reminder Time – This is my favorite feauture because you can set a day and time at which the app reminds you to save weekly!

Every once in a while, I count the actual cash in the jar to make sure the totals tally with what the app tells us we should already have. It’s been a real good way to keep track of things and not rely on just memory – Did we put money in the Travel Jar this week?

Doing this challenge, and physically seeing the money stack up inside our Travel Jar, has really kept us on track with saving money for our travel goals – without necessarily taking away from our regular budget.

As a couple, we haven’t done that much travelling – it just wasn’t a priority in the past. But it is also something we are changing.

How do you save up for your travel goals?

Are you also doing the 52 Week Money Saving Challenge? How is your experience, so far?

%d bloggers like this: