If you hadn’t already heard, for Lent I challenged myself to not make any material purchases for the 40 days. It fit very well with our March minimalism challenge with the idea being to enjoy life without the focus being on aquiring things.

I can happily say that I did not cave and I have completed my goal. Although if I hadn’t been able to buy new pantry items I may have struggled a bit more.

I have to admit that I was expecting it to be a lot harder. Maybe I’m too much of a rule follower or maybe I just don’t really need that much. I realise that 40 days isn’t a hugely long period of time, but had I not been attempting this challenge then I have no doubt I would have made some impulse purchases.

The only time I was truly tempted, was during a fateful afternoon in TKMaxx. Sean was in the market for a new pair of jeans and I couldn’t resist browsing the shoe section. Now I have a little bit of a shoe obsession, specifically sneakers. So what do I find? Staring me in the face was a shiny new pair of Sperry canvas boat shoes. I had just thrown out my old pair and had it been any other time I would have seen it as destiny that I should own this new model. They were only fifteen pounds as well so my bank balance didn’t even have to know! At least that is would pre-Lent Helen would have said.

As much as it pained me, I left them on the shelf. I still had enough shoes. I didn’t actually need them and it didn’t matter that they weren’t very expensive. If I didn’t have a casual pair of sneakers, then maybe that meeting would have been destiny, but instead they were a test. After all, spending money on something you don’t need is still a waste of money. I tugged on Sean’s sleeve to get me out of the shop and cast my gaze wistfully at the pre-counter junk as we made our way out.

But that was it. That was the only time that I felt anything more than a pang or a had a thought to write down the name of a book I wanted to read, or a product I wanted to research. My theory is that it was because I was in a physical shop, face to face with things I couldn’t have. It was like the cheer-leader effect in possession form. Everything in the shop was alright, but because there was so much of it and I couldn’t have any of it, it all looked so appealing.

I tried to keep a list of all of the things that popped into my head that I had the urge to purchase, or at least research online during Lent. Some of these things I probably will get at some point, a lot of them I most likely won’t. I think for me going forward, the key is going be to think and research and try to not buy things on impulse. By writing things down and coming back to them I can discern what is an actual need and what was just a whim.

The first thing I had marked to purchase after Lent concluded was a pair of earrings. Annoyingly I need good quality earrings for my sensitive ears, but I also have a tendency to knock them out and lose them. I have been looking on Etsy for something hypoallergenic and a bit different but also simple. I think I’ve found the right pair, but for some reason I keep making excuses not to buy them just yet. It could be that I am worried about not being governed by my own rules anymore. But honestly I think I just don’t want to get to the end of the month and wish I’d saved that money for actually doing something fun.

Being able to afford to visit overseas friends and stop for a spontaneous ramen feast at Wagamamas, is where I find real joy and freedom. However, I also don’t want my ears to close up so as with most things, I guess it is all about balance.