10 Lies Every Mom Tells Herself During No Spend January

Ad failed to load

January: my least favorite month. The glow of the holiday season is fading, the novelty of cold and snow is getting old fast, and everywhere I turn people are making half-hearted resolutions. I'm not one to deride anyone for trying to improve their lives, and I'm happy to cheer anyone on in reaching their personal goals. But January is full of lies, and those lies are often based on how we want to be perceived by others. Take, for example, the lies every mom tells herself during No Spend January.

The idea of a "no spend" day/week/month is not limited to January, of course, but it seems to be, based on my research, the most common time of the year when people try it. The premise is extremely self-explanatory: you don't spend money (without really good reason) for a month. While I'm personally not planning to take part in 2018, I get the appeal. It's an idea that speaks to our January desire to enter the new year with a level head and better habits. (And seriously, go you! You can do it! This is a good thing!) It also speaks to our cultural obsession with 30-day fixes, with are, at the very least, problematic.

Now, I'm not attempting to talk you out of anything. This is your life, dear reader, and I'm all about supporting others. But I'm also about being realistic, and if No Spend January is a goal you're preparing to make for yourself, then you're probably going to be lying to yourself in the following ways:

Ad failed to load

"I'm Not Going To Spend *Any* Money"


You are because, unless you're already living a no-spend life off the grid (in which case "no spend January" is just "January") you have vital expenses, including but certainly not limited to: housing, transportation, electric, water, childcare, food, cell phone, etc. Some people doing a no spend month/week pre-pay everything up front (including stocking up on food) and, well, that's still spending money in January, friends. Also, it's a tremendous luxury to have the funds to pre-pay an entire month of expenses.

Other people recognize that "no spend" means you're not going to spend outside of items of absolute necessity. In those cases, even the necessities are stripped down to Spartan proportions: no budgeting extra gas money for non-essential travel, no random fun purchases from the grocery store, no turning on every light in the house just for the fun of it, and certainly no dinners out or happy hours.

Regardless, you're still spending some money one way or another.

"This Will Be Fun"


But like, how? I feel like at best it would be neutral. Sure, maybe you can find some fun getting creative around the house finding entertainment since you can't go out or something, but there's nothing precluding you from doing that in a regular month. Also, let's be honest: austerity measures are rarely fun. Aggressively working to change habits is also rarely fun. This is probably not going to be fun. If you're lucky, it won't suck too much.

"This Will Be Easy"


No, honey. Just, well, no. Not only do the vast majority of us spend money every day, but kids are expensive AF and constantly pop up with new and annoying needs and "needs." This is going to be a challenge, to say the least.

Ad failed to load

"This Will Be Impossible"


It's not. It's not easy, to be sure, but people only spend money on necessary expenses all the time, sometimes for years or lifetimes. It's called "being poor."

Yes, it's the hot new trend sweeping the nation: poverty, it's so hot right now!

In all honestly, this is sort of an issue I have with posing this exercise as fun or virtuous or some sort of novelty. Almost 13 percent of Americans live below the poverty line and, frankly, those hovering just above it aren't exactly living the high life. I'm not saying that doing a "no spend" month is bad or insensitive in and of itself, but I would say that being mindful of how you frame and discuss the endeavor is important and can be an important aspect of this experiment.

"I'm Sure I Can Just Use What's In The Pantry"


So, you're in the middle of No Spend January. You look in your pantry and all the foods your child likes to eat have been eaten. Granola bars, fruit pouches, animal crackers? Yeah, they're all gone. "Well, we have bananas," you offer.

Scream of disapproval.


Scream, follow by a declaration along the lines of, "I want a cup of milk!"

The milk is also gone.

More screams.

Come dinner time? You have a can of black beans, diced tomatoes, a jar of capers and some rice, which will make for a delicious stew if you add the right spices. Your child is having precisely zero of this.

Certainly you can use what's in your pantry for this exercise, but the "just" is probably a bit flippant.

"This [Insert Item Here] Doesn't Count"


Yes. Yes it does. That's the damn point!

Ad failed to load

"This Will Solve All My Financial Problems"


Like, for a month. And that's if you're lucky. But unless you have a plan in place moving forward, No Spend January is not a reset button. Sad fact: there is no reset button. Financial solvency is an ongoing effort. There's no easy fix and no big secret, except for being born rich. And that's not so much a secret as a fact that many wealthy people want desperately for non-wealthy people to forget by talking about ambition and grit as though that alone were responsible for their millions.

"I Can Keep This Up"


Not really. It's just not practical. Unbudgeted expenses are eventually going to come up — a trip to the doctor, a plumbing issue, a flat tire — and you're going to have to spend money. Maybe this exercise can help you budget better moving forward, which is great, but you're going to have to figure that, at some point, you're going to buy again.

Also, let's face it: you're probably going to go back to buying "unnecessary" things as well, and that's fine. Indulgences are good for you!

"My Kids Will Learn From This"


If your kids are anything like my kids, they will get jack out of this. They're either not going to notice or they're just going to be intermittently annoyed for the month of January, when you keep telling them they have to eat water crackers instead of Goldfish or that you can't buy whatever or go wherever.

Depending on age, kids are actually incapable of seeing too much of the world beyond themselves, and that's OK. That's as it should be, so don't get too bent out of shape if at the end of this venture your kids haven't begun investing their piggyback in a Roth IRA.

Ad failed to load

"This Will Go Along Great With My Juice Cleanse"


First of all, maybe rethink the juice cleanse all together because your liver does all the detoxing your body needs and you need more calories than a couple juices a day can afford you. Secondly, those juices are really expensive and are therefore completely counterproductive to not spending money in January. And last, but not least, stringent budgeting and being hangry (and you will be hangry on a juice cleanse) is an absolutely terrible combination. Don't do it!

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at Names.org recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

7 Things A Mom Really Means When She Says She Doesn't Want Anything On Mother's Day

Every year my family asks me what I want for Mother's Day, and every single year I tell them the same thing: Nothing. So, by now, they know that when I say "nothing" I absolutely do not mean "nothing." In fact, there are more than a few things a mom …
By Candace Ganger

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

13 Unique (& Totally Not Mainstream) Mother's Day Gifts For The Hipster Mom

Hipsters thrive on being outside the norm and not really digging anything considered "mainstream." Whether it's in their fashion, what music they listen to, the books they read, or how they enjoy beverages, there's just something that makes them dist…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Here's How To Introduce Your Pet To Your Baby & Make Everything As Calm As Possible

Our home, which we lovingly refer to as “the funny farm,” is filled with four-legged family members. We have two crazy beagles and two cat jerks, and boy are they loved and spoiled. (As they should be.) But we are now finally having a baby of our own…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Here's The Right Birth Method For You, According To Your Zodiac Sign

If you're pregnant, you've probably given childbirth some serious thought. Some moms-to-be prepare a meticulous birth plan, while others are comfortable just going with the flow. And me? Well, I made a plan... but that plan was useless when faced wit…
By Steph Montgomery

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills