I am typing this before baby’s arrival but as you are reading this, I currently have a baby boy at home in my arms getting in all the newborn snuggles! How joyful! 😊 If you have been around for some time, you know I participate in Nancy Ray’s Contentment Challenge every year for – I actually couldn’t tell you how long I have been doing this! Ha! It’s been many, many years! I enjoy this challenge so much because it helps me re-focus in my life, become content again after a hectic Christmas and re-gain my focus on finding happiness in the simple things in life! Not too mention, it also helps our bank account after the holiday season!
Basically what the contentment challenge is, for 3 months you spend only on necessities! I will share what Nancy shares on her blog to put it best!
“The Contentment Challenge is a commitment to give up shopping for 3 months, in order to challenge your Amazon prime habit (#realtalk), to get control of your household finances, and most of all—to redirect your heart towards your relationship with God and your family. It’s simply taking a stance (a very different kind of stance) that states that things don’t equal happiness. Convenience doesn’t either. People do, experiences do, and ultimately, your relationship with God is the one thing that can satisfy. So, it’s a commitment for 3 months to bring your spending habits and your heart into alignment—a “shopping fast” if you will.”-Nancy Ray
I highly recommend listening to her podcast, episode 3 all about her take in the contentment challenge and how it came to be! You can find that here!
One part of being able to be successful with this challenge is preparing for the upcoming 90 days. After doing this for a few years, I have a running notes list on my phone that I update as new ideas come to me or to remind me what I need to prepare before January 1st!
I thought I would share with you what all is on my list to prep and what my plans are during this contentment challenge round! So let’s start with my prep list!
Create a List of Free Things To Do
I think this is one of the most important things to do in being successful with the challenge! When you first start, I find you tend to do better because it is exciting to try & refrain from spending and you still have new things from Christmas! So it feels as though you just went shopping! But as the long month of January & February start to drag on, it is so hard to not go shopping to fill your time! Here are some things that are on my list for when I need to go do something WITHOUT spending any money!
• Go to the Library
• Go to the Art Museum
• Drive Around My Favorite Neighborhoods
• Visit Mom
• Visit Friends
In addition to this list, I make a list of things to do at home too when I start to get antsy! Here’s a couple of those ideas!
• Make A Fun Coffee at Home
• Read My Books
• Read My Bible
• Bible Study
• Declutter The House
• Bake Something At Home
• Watch A Movie
All of these are things I actually enjoy doing and it’s important to make a list of ideas of things you like to do! Like you will never find make a new dinner recipe on my list because I don’t enjoy cooking! Ha!
Create Your List of Need to Purchase Ahead of Time
The next thing I do is take a look at the 90 days ahead and see if there are any holidays, birthdays or celebrations that I will want to buy something for. For example, I know Valentine’s Day and St. Patty’s Day will be in those 90 days, I buy any simple decorations or items for my occasions bins that I can ahead of time! But there are some exceptions I do make and I’ll get a little more into this below!
Another thing I do to prep is write out any areas I want to declutter or organize during that 90 days and then I will purchase any organization items I need for that space! This goes for any projects I’d like to tackle around the house during this time. Whether it is paint for touch ups around the house or bigger items like light fixtures I hope to swap out, I try to gather it all ahead of time.
Buy Any Items To Keep You Busy
I’m sure this one here sounds like it almost defeats the purpose but I promise it doesn’t! I like to purchase ahead any items that I want to keep me busy during this time. For instance, some new books, suduko puzzle books, puzzles and craft supplies. They aren’t huge expenses and could be bought from the thrift store or dollar store. But I like to find a hobby, new or an old favorite, to work on during the 90 days. One year it was practicing hand lettering, another year it was watercoloring and almost every year I grab a stack of books that I’m dying to read! It’s nice to find a new hobby or stretch my creativity during this time. I always think I never have time for it and what is wild is when you are trying to not go shop, you will find you have a LOT more time on your hands. Isn’t that crazy?
Set Some Guidelines & Exceptions
I think one thing to remember with this challenge is to give yourself grace if you slip up. I have slipped almost every single year. It is SO HARD not to! But as you continue practicing it, it gets easier! Eventually, you’ll find yourself practicing this way of living even past the 90 days!
So after a couple of times of joining in on the challenge, I learned to create some guidelines for myself and exceptions to spending because you are going to come across these moments and it’s best to know how you’ll handle it so you don’t get unencouraged half way through!
For myself, I also don’t eat out fast food during the 90 days. This is just a personal choice because it is something I struggle with daily. However, there are situations where I am out and about and we are starving or I’m with my friends or family and they want to grab lunch. Obviously, I’m not going to say no or go home to make lunch and then head back out. I will totally allow these moments to be an exception but not allow them to be the norm! I try to make sure we eat lunch before we head out or get back home from running any errands before lunch time hits! I have a snack box in my car that I started when I was in my first trimester and always needed something to eat before I got sick (I do not miss those days!) and it has just been so handy especially with Liam that I will probably forever have a snack box in the car to hold us over until we get home!
Another exception I allow is if I come across a once in a lifetime, I’ll never see it at that price again, I’ve been eyeing it forever, I’ll never stop crying if I don’t get it type of thing – I’ll get it. Now, this has to be something EXTRADORINARY for this exception and I’ve only done this maybe once or twice! I really try to refrain from going into the stores or online shopping so I don’t have to use this exception but I’m not perfect and sometimes still need just a little window shopping!
The last thing I do for making my guidelines and exceptions is creating a budget in mind for how much is ok to spend for those unexpected spends. For example, maybe you forgot a friends birthday and need to pick up a gift! How much are you willing to set aside for this? Every month, I get with a group of friends where we swap gifts based on certain themes. I know this is an expense that I will have during these 90 days and set aside no more than $25 each month for these swaps. I’m not going to pull myself out of the group for the 3 months, I just know I have a budget and that makes me feel alright!
This part is all going to be based on your preferences for what you are ok with and what are absolute nos! And if it’s your first time, go easy on yourself! This challenge is meant to help you find happy in the content and simpleness of life, not make you feel like your missing out on everything!
What I Plan on Doing This Contentment Challenge
Now that I’ve got you updated on just how I prepare every year for this challenge, I am going to share with you what is on my “to do list” over the next 90 days!
As you know, I have a newborn at home so that definitely is going to be in my favor and keep me very occupied. We need to finish his nursery so I plan to work on projects in there such as updating his dresser, painting his room and putting it all together! Because I know I will want to get it finished and decorated, I’m setting aside some money that is just for his room decorations once it is time! (This is one of my exceptions this year! 😊)
I also want to go through my clothes in my closet! There is so much in there that I don’t wear anymore and I’ve officially run out of hangers so it’ll be the perfect time to purge and donate! I’m going to help Nick with his closet too. We both have so much we never wear, it’d be better to let someone else love it and wear it than hoard it!
Speaking of decluttering, Liam’s toys has been on our list to declutter for a very long time! We’ve been packing them all away in our basement with the hopes on creating an organized toy storage area when the basement was completed but now, so many of those toys are beyond his interests that I think we will be able to toss a lot and keep the best ones for the baby!
Catch up on some reading! Oh I have tons of books piled up in my ” to be read” basket that I really can’t wait to start knocking them out. My problem is I just dive so deep into my books, I finish them in a day or 2 and then I’m onto the next one. Thank goodness the library is free and I can read my little heart out!
I really plan to practice taking pictures during this 90 days! As a photographer, you are always learning and growing. This past year was my last year of weddings as I moved only towards motherhood portraits. And now with a baby to myself, I have tons of practice I can get in with practicing new swaddling techniques, poses and more! I have a list of other sessions I’d like to practice on so I plan to do a few model calls in the month of March.
I will also be putting together and organizing my new office space! Since my current office is where the nursery will be, we are moving my office/craft space to the basement where I will have tons more room and storage! I have already envisioned just how I want it to be organized but I can’t wait until I am actually getting in there! I want to be able to easily access my craft supplies and have a dedicated spot for my photography equipment.
These are all of my “bigger” things I want to do during the 90 day challenge. I have little stuff here and there that I’d like to work on and do. I’ll share a recap at the end of the 90 days!
And I hope you join me during this contentment challenge! (It begins on January 10th!) The first time I did it, I felt so fresh and new and I really enjoyed living much simpler. My mind and heart felt very free! I don’t want to be dramatic and say it was life changing, but it was! It created this domino effect in my life that was so positive and good for me, I can only hope it will help you too!!
Hi there, I’m Brittany, motherhood photographer and virtual assistant based in Ohio! I hope you enjoyed this post! If you are interested in my photographer or virtual assistant services, be sure to click here!
If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out: