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!