Christmas Challenge Week 1 Review – Minimal Money

Wow, so we’ve come to is the end of the first week of Minimal Student’s Christmas Challenge. I chose money as the theme of this week, because I thought it would be appropriate considering it’s something a lot of people are thinking about during this time of year.

I’ve received a lot of emails and comments on people’s thoughts on each prompt, thank you! 140 characters is so little, if there’s one skill I’ve honed this week it’s the ability to cut down what I want to say to an absolute minimum. So, for today’s review post, I’ll do the same and stick to brief notes on each. If you’ve missed the prompts, you can read them below and follow new ones on Twitter.

Dec 1 : Does your wallet contain more than just money? Empty out old receipts and cards you don’t use at least 2x a month and feel the difference.

I see so many people lug impressively huge wallets and purses around with them. They carry stuff with them everyday that they only use once or twice a month, or maybe even never! This not only includes old receipts and way too much change, but tons of membership cards, bits of paper, gum and so on. I used to be a ‘just in case I need it’ person too, but since I’ve given my purse (and the rest of my bag) the minimalist treatment, I literally only carry a bit of cash and my ID, and I can’t think of a time one of those ‘just in case’ moments actually happened.

Dec 2 : Make your lunch today, or bring your own water/tea instead of buying a coffee… then drop the money into a charity box, how do you feel?

If you spend about $5 everyday on your lunch, imagine how much you would save if you made your own. Normally, I could buy ingredients such as pasta, salads, bread and fillings that would last me a week for about $15. Not to mention how much money I’d save just by cutting out buying coffee at school/work and just bringing my own. There are charity boxes at almost any till in Japan, and it always makes me feel  a little better to drop a few coins into them every now and again. It may not be much, but it’s the least I could do.

Dec 3 : Leave your cards at home and pay for everything with cash today. Do you feel different when you actually touch the money?

One of the many culture shocks that I experienced when I moved from England to Japan was the Japanese’s tendency to pay for everything in cash. In England, people would use cards to pay for even the smallest things. In Japan, the most common method of payment by far is cash, even for things that cost over hundreds of dollars. Because of the (amazingly) low crime rate,  it’s not uncommon for people to carry upwards of $300 in cash with them all the time. For me, it was interesting to see how I felt a bit more resistance parting with cash that I physically touched because I could see it disappear from my purse.

Dec 4 : Today is the weekend. Can you still have fun and not spend a penny?

This weekend, I spent some much needed time with my host family. We talked about our different cultures and I learned a lot of things about Japanese language and life. I played with the kids, taught some English and learned how to make some more delicious Japanese dishes. I exercised, I read, I studied. I had the best time, and I didn’t spend a penny.

Dec 5 : Look around you. What kind of things can’t you buy with money? How much do they mean to you?

Generally, I can replace any of the material stuff I own. But, there are only one of the each of the people I care about. I made this prompt because I was thinking how much better Christmas is when I’m surrounded by the things that are most valuable to me – I don’t mean toys, food, or any kind of shopping mall gift – but the things money can’t buy.

Thank you to everyone who have participated so far. Feel free to leave your comments below, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the challenge!

  • I want to really thank you for doing this- I’ve learned so much!

    I downsized my wallet, and my purse. I also went through your entire blog & read every article (seriously, it’s AMAZING) and got rid of a whole bunch of other stuff.

    This weekend, I made christmas cards with my family, I practiced dance, I made exciting plans for the new year, helped my mother make bread, and read two books. It was absolutely fantastic.

  • When I broke my wallet, I started using an elastic band and cute little change purse. Now I have a new wallet, and I’m thinking of returning it because of all the clutter that’s accumulating again.

    However I didn’t read your challenge in time, and spent $107 (that includes Christmas gifts, dance costume plus a white bra, and groceries). Oopsie!

  • The Beatles sang: “Fun is the one thing that money can’t buy”.

    BTW: I read alot of minimalism blog, but yours is the only one that eventually pushed me to actually doing something.
    I got rid of my T.V, Nightstand, and alot of other junk such as papers (that went to recycle), more than half of my wardrobe (that went to charity), and other stuff that only cluttered my room and soul.
    It was a liberating act that took me a whole after noon (about 5 hours) and I still keep throwing stuff that t don’t need.
    Now, I spend more time playing the piano, reading, relaxing and just lying down and listening to music, I feel much better.

    Thank you. 🙂

  • Lip

    I use a homemade duct-tape wallet. It has a limited number of places to put things, which initially felt strange as I couldn’t carry everything I thought I needed. Now it just contains cash, 2 debit cards (1 personal, 1 work), student ID, driving license and 5 business cards. Old train tickets seems to be my weakness with wallet clutter though.

    If you can add too much stuff to your wallet it’s too big :D.

  • Chikitulfo

    As always, great post!

    One of the things that I don’t like at all, is paying with a card. Which I noticed that in Germany a lot of people does.
    It feels like it was designed for us to spend more money. Because you make the exact same gesture wether you are spending 10€, 100€ or 200€. And you don’t think about the money you are spending (of course, at first you do, but after it is a habit you don’t fully realise).

    In exchange, if you think about how much money you will need before leaving home, and just take that money, you won’t spend more than that. And is not the same to give away one 10€ note than three 20€ notes. And you can always carry you card and go to a cashpoint if you NEED more money.

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