The Contentment Challenge 2017

Hello first new blog post of 2017! It's so nice to see ya! I am really excited about today's post, partly because I am leisurely typing away at it from the comfort of my couch after binge watching Gilmore Girls with the hubby, but mostly because the content of this post is likely going to completely change my mindset and outlook on life for months and years to come. I know I know, that's a big audacious thing to say - but I really believe it's true! 

For the past few years, I have procrastinated shamelessly. Procrastinated getting my big scary dreams down on paper and completed. Procrastinated setting up the systems that I know will help move both my business and life in the direction I want it to go, both for myself and eventually for a growing family one day. Procrastinated partly out of fear, and mostly out of overworking myself and adding too much to my plate! 

Southern Newlywed Photos | Gettysvue Country Club Wedding in Knoxville Tennessee | Simply Jessica Marie Wedding photographed by Perry Vaile Photography

photo by Perry Vaile
I just love this photo - to me, it embodies pure contentment!

One thing I am procrastinating on no longer is changing my mindset around money, saving, and material things. The sweet Nancy Ray started the Contentment Challenge years ago, and my dear friend Kat Schmoyer is helping to bring it back. I'm excited to announce that I'm joining in! So what is the Contentment Challenge? As Kat so perfectly said:

The Contentment Challenge is a fast from all unnecessary spending in your life. It’s a hiatus from purchasing unnecessary things – a chance to remember that what you have is truly is enough. Each month will have a theme & there will be a challenge to go along with the theme.

Kat also outlined guidelines for herself along with goals to extend throughout the challenge, and I love that idea! As a true ENFP, sticking to structure and making guidelines is not natural for me, but I always find them SO helpful and know I stick to my plans better when doing so. So, here goes nothing y'all!


No new clothes - I honestly haven't bought myself too many new clothes or accessories lately, but get sucked into J.Crew and Banana Republic sales! In order to avoid these temptations, I am removing myself from their email lists so I don't get drawn in with the 50% off sale sales that seem to conveniently pop up every week! I do have one exception - I will possibly be renting a dress from Rent the Runway for my friend Kaylee's wedding as it will likely be black tie and I don't have an appropriate gown. I'll see if any of my friends have anything I can borrow first, though!

Exercise - Swap my monthly barre membership for free Tone it Up challenge/videos. I have been spending $90/month (plus money to park) on barre classes, and while that's unfortunately on the cheap end for a barre membership, it's still way too much! I'm taking the Tone it Up challenge and will continue using their free workout videos as a substitute. I'll then put the $90/month toward paying off a credit card! PS - I'm proud to say I already put a hold on my barre membership indefinitely on New Year's Eve after I took my class that morning!

Avoid Target at all costs!! - Honestly, who isn't a sucker for Target? It's cliché I know, but I think my husband might be the only human on earth not susceptible to their shiny gold end cap objects! So, I will now buy necessities from Amazon prime to avoid the temptation of going to Target and spending mindlessly. We have already paid our prime membership for the year (and it has already paid for itself with how much we saved on shipping for Christmas gifts) so that's a win win!

Eating and drinking out - Zack and I are pretty good at eating at home consistently and only going out to eat once, on occasion twice a week if we do something with friends. I want to stick to this limit as it's worked for our food budget, and since I work from home it's sometimes the only time I am out and about and social (again, ENFP =  I need my time out with people!). However, I'm going to limit the amount of drinks I order to one cocktail (as they're usually between $8-15 per drink) and then stick to either a glass of beer or wine that's in the $7 or less range, or just water. Same with coffee if we go out to brunch - I'm going to try to drink coffee at home first, and just have water (or one celebratory mimosa) with my meal.

Monthly subscriptions - I'm going to unsubscribe from anything unnecessary like Audible (I already have a lot of credits left over from previous months that I can and should use) and Hulu (see if I can still watch the shows online on ABC, etc). My next Hulu monthly renewal needs to be changed by the 10th, and Audible changed by the 13th.

Makeup and other frivolous things - No buying new lipstick and nail polish!! Those are my biggest weaknesses, and I have plenty to last the next few months, honestly for the next year. I will only buy necessary things like foundation or makeup remover as they run out.

Business expenses - I'm going to limit business expenses to what is truly necessary. Ex: I will need to purchase a subscription with Teachery for the SJM Art School, but will start with the cheapest monthly subscription first before diving in to buy the lifetime membership. I will only upgrade to the lifetime membership after I have earned enough from the courses to pay for it, to ensure that it is a smart investment. I will also likely invest in an ATG (a professional tape gun) because it will save me more in the long run than the smaller tape guns I'm currently buying and re-filling monthly (thank you envelope liner assembly, haha!). I will not buy fun new art supplies that are frivolous like new paint colors (that I could mix from home from existing paint colors), etc.

Home decor - This is going to be SUCH a hard one for me!! No buying new home decor - especially if we end up moving (more on that soon)! This will be a big temptation, but we already have so much stuff that we don't need anything new! An exception will be made to buy frames for the two posters I gifted Zack with for Christmas, sine they are a part of his gift (I told him I wanted to pick the frames out together). But - I have a partnership with a framing company where I get wholesale pricing, so I'll use them to save money!

Spending allowances for trips - Zack and I will be traveling to Canada for my friend's wedding in March, and I'll be going on a mastermind retreat to Savannah in a couple of weeks. While the point of this challenge is to fast from unnecessary spending, there will need to be some spending to truly soak in the cultures of each place. I will be setting spending limits for food and drink, and will set a limit for any other items I buy while we're there. For example, it is a goal of mine to collect a piece of art from a local artist from each place we travel - and I don't want to let go of that goal. However, I will think of a reasonable budget to set for those pieces, and stick within it.


  • Swap having tv on in the background while painting for listening to audiobooks and podcasts.
  • Donate my unnecessary clothes to the hospital from my hometown (they are looking for donations for people who come in with tattered or missing clothes, whether it be from abuse or accidents, who need something modest to go home in so they feel comfortable).
  • Read the book Launch in January, finish reading Grace Not Perfection in January (I'm about halfway through), and pick out 1-2 business books to read in February and March.
  • Complete each month's PowerSheets within the first 3 days of the month.
  • Find a way that allows me to connect with the Bible and my faith and implement it daily. My thought is to use my Write the Word Journal, which I already have but haven't started using yet.
  • Reach out by the end of the first week in January to see if I can volunteer to teach the kids at the Basement Art Studio here in downtown Knoxville.
  • Begin to take 15% out of every order I get and put it in savings for paying quarterly taxes on time.
  • Start my 401k.
  • Set a dollar amount per month to set aside for savings for a house (begin implementing this by the end of February at the latest, after I have my finances organized).
  • Set a salary for myself and pay it through payroll each month, which I can do through my bank.
  • Get my new passport (in time for Kaylee's wedding) and finally change my last name on everything!
  • Set a monthly duty day specifically for my finances and business tasks. This will likely be on the 15th of each month (aside from when the 15th falls on a weekend), since monthly sales tax is due on the 19th of each month. 

I know that is a huuuuge list of goals, and that doesn't even account for all of the goals I have written in my PowerSheets (like finish and launch my SJM Art School, launch my calligraphy font, set strict business hourst, etc.). But y'all, I'm done with procrastinating!! I am ready to make all of those things happen over the next few months, and to see how it changes my life, and my relationship with Zack, my family, and our friends. 

I'll be blogging at least once a month to share about the theme for each month (January will be coming tomorrow) ad to share updates about my progress. Gotta love acountability, right y'all?

Are you joining in on the Contentment Challenge? If so, I'd love for you to join in on our Facebook Group! Everyone is sharing their guidelines and goals, and I can't wait to read through them and possibly add more to my lists! You can also follow along on social media with the hashtag #contentmentchallenge2017 to see everyone's posts and ideas for their challenge!

Thanks SO much Nancy for starting this movement, and for Kat for bringing it back to life this year!