No Spend Saturday

Welcome to day eight of my 2022 No Spend Challenge. Some people do the challenge just to save money. For me, it’s about resetting all my habits and taking an intentional step back from the activity that typically defines most other months.

I usually like to be on the go from April through December. But after the decadence of the holidays, the overspending, over eating and all around overexertion, I’m pleased to slow things down. So I aim to stay home, drink more water, rest more and eat better while saving my money.

This challenge me gives me license to stay in and cozy on a chilly day. I’ll feed the birds and maybe take a little walk around the yard but have no intention of leaving the property.

Instead, I have some small projects in mind for today. My utility room could use a little freshening up and I badly need to reorganize the freezer. After that, an All Creatures Great and Small binge may be in my future. The PBS series returns for season two tomorrow night and I want to be ready.

Scout will gravitate toward the window where he can watch over his birdies but will check on me periodically. He likes to supervise and see if there are any boxes, bags or crevices where he can cram his little body while I’m begging him to please move. It’s a fun game we play, he says.

In other words, it will be a plain old ordinary day at home and I’m excited for it. Happy Saturday, friends.

No Spend January

January is a special month for me and I have come to look forward to it. This is the start of a slower period and one where I intentionally keep things quiet.

You see, I do a No Spend Challenge where I intentionally stop spending money, stay home, use what I have and focus on being happy in the world I have created here. It’s a type of winter hibernation and I savor these quiet, cozy days at home.

How does it work? I’m so glad you asked.

First off, I pay my bills and buy needs. This should go without saying but you have to pay your bills, put gas in the car and buy food to eat.

That’s about the extent of it.

During most of the year, I don’t typically eat out a lot. It’s mostly when I’m traveling for work or on adventure days. My biggest weakness is buying books, accessories and bargains at TJ Maxx. Another weakness is at the grocery store. I like having lots of fresh produce and tend to shop sales to stock up on pantry items.

That said, compared to most people, I live frugally and without a ton of waste. In fact, I live this way so I can afford to travel and to do the things I enjoy.

During my no spend months, I question every purchase. I don’t buy a candy bar without questioning motivation and need. You may find it shocking to realize how many things you consider buying in a month when you say that you can’t buy anything.

I know people who spend five or ten dollars a day just on snacks and drinks while they’re at work or commuting. That’s upwards of a hundred dollars every month and way more than I spend on car insurance for a month. Is a snack really worth more than a grand a year?

I’m going to say no. Yet these very same people often complain that they have no money and make snide remarks about how it must be nice to travel so much.

There are some exceptions to the no spend rule. For example, genuine need shouldn’t be ignored. If you work in an office environment and break the heal on your dress shoes, you’ll either need to repair or replace them. But first, shop your own closet to see if you have something appropriate to use for a while.

If I’m traveling for work and can’t pack a lunch, you bet I’ll eat out. If the car needs a repair, that’s important too.

Instead of going on adventures and spending money on museums or movie tickets, I spend my Saturdays at home. This gives me a chance to sleep in, to work on my hobbies, have a movie marathon, dive into a book or take a walk. I focus on getting things done at home and doing things I enjoy.

I shop my pantry and freezer to experiment and create meals. Instead of buying a package of cookies, I make homemade cookies or muffins with pantry ingredients. I also usually make a few kinds of soup that I can freeze in two serving containers so I don’t feel the need to buy canned soup.

My grocery trips typically involve produce, eggs and whatever ingredients are needed to fill the gaps.

Whenever I feel the urge to buy something, I make a list of all the stuff I want to buy. I review that list at the end of the challenge and consider two things. Do I still want the thing? How much money did I save by not buying the thing?

After being in the habit of shopping and spending over the holidays, it’s a healthy move for me to say no to spending on extras. It isn’t always easy and sometimes it feels like work. However, it is eye opening to realize how many times a day I say no to buying.

If you’re looking to pay off holiday debt or to save for the adventures ahead, this is a super way to do it.

One more thing. What does it take to waste $10,000 a year? Just $27.40 a day or under $200 a week in unnecessary spending. Think you don’t do that? Maybe you don’t but you might be surprised at how much you do waste.

Not Buying Whatever They’re Selling

Twelve days into my No Spend Challenge and it feels like everywhere I look someone is trying to sell me something.

Advertising is designed to make us feel insecure, to make us feel like what we have isn’t good enough. You’ll look better in these jeans. You’ll be happier if you drink this beverage. You’ll be wealthier if you invest with us. Your house will be prettier if you buy hundreds of dollars of crap at our store. Better yet, buy a whole new house and fill the entire thing with the widgets we sell!

Even the otherwise inspiring podcasters I enjoy are trying to sell their books and consultations.

Satisfaction is a threat to sales people everywhere.

I’ve all but stopped reading women’s magazines, hardly ever catch a tv commercial, am actively unsubscribing from marketing emails, and blissfully scroll past all the targeted ads meant to sell me what I don’t need.

The world claims that my most important value is as a consumer but I’m choosing to go a different route.

This annual No Spend Challenge is a meaningful reminder that my life is good already. I have a nice home, plenty of healthy food to eat and tons of ways to entertain myself that don’t include shopping or buying things.

And by saving my money now, I’ll have funds for adventures this summer! That is worth way more to me than anything the world is selling right now!

No Spend Challenge complete

My No Spend Challenge ended Friday. I wouldn’t call the process a complete disaster but it certainly didn’t go as planned.Things were proceeding swimmingly until my fridge died and I lost a lot of food. Going in debt for an appliance, replacing rotten food and eating some lunches out for a few days distracted me from my goals.

It also added to my debt.

But it’s ok. It will be ok. Better luck next time, right? I mean, this was hardly my fault…. the Universe simply decided that it was time to euthanize my appliance.

Anywhooo,  in addition to buying the fridge, I spent about $16 on fast food dollar menu items due to travel and a general unpreparedness to live without most cold food.

I came off the challenge Friday and spent Saturday in Cincinnati with my fella. He had football tickets for his Law School alma mater so we made a day of the trip, visiting a few stores along the way.

The great thing about a No Spend Challenge is that even if I don’t consider the challenge successful I love the after effects of questioning every little purchase and not wanting to part with my money or bring home more unnecessary goods.

On Saturday I purchased a handful of items for about $15 at Half Price Books (I consider books as necessary as food and clothing) and spent another $13 on some clearance items at Meijer. They had cloth napkins bundled in packages of four for $2. They also had a really great Katie Brown glass dome on clearance for $5. I never would pay  the original $20 asking price but it will be great with a winter scene inside for Christmas and a plant for the rest of the year. Some $2 silicone ice cube trays rounded out my purchase.

These were all things that I either need or love and I think $28 for a day out isn’t too expensive.

I unconsciously decided to continue the No Spend Challenge for as long as I can. No money spent today so far and no plans to spend any tomorrow either. I would love to hold on to this momentum for as long as possible.

One step forward, two steps back

The “No Spend Challenge” went great this weekend! Mr. Wonderful and I engaged in some outdoor activities and enjoyed a little couch time. All free, all fun with no recreational shopping to speak of. On my way home yesterday, I tortured myself with a spin through TJ Maxx only to learn that they didn’t have one thing I wanted to buy. Nice,eh?

A quick trip through Aldi garnered $16 worth of groceries that, combined with the freezer/pantry stock should get me through the next two weeks.

Or so I thought.

Things didn’t exactly go as planned.

At home, I found a large puddle of water in front of the fridge. All of the ice from the ice maker had thawed. Funny. It’s not supposed to do that……

The compressor had blown on the fridge which is only about a decade old. A lot of food lost. Frustration mounting.

I do all this work, earn extra income and pinch pennies so that I can dig myself out of debt and maybe even…gasp….get ahead….only to fall further and further behind.

Deep Breath.

It will be ok. But now I will lose a day of productivity at work to go shop for an appliance I really can’t afford.

On the bright side, the sun is shining, the sky is blue and it feels like fall today. If Mother Nature is smiling it really can’t be so bad, right?

I bought a cookie

I didn’t even make it through the first day of my No Spend Challenge without spending money.

Sigh. I bought a cookie.

Not just any cookie. A Subway chocolate chip cookie. It cost .49 cents. And it was worth every penny.

I was on my way to a class last night and stopped by the library which happens to be conveniently located across the street from Subway. It was going to be a long night and I was running on fumes. So I slunk across the street and pulled out my change purse.

Today is going better. No currency has left my hands so far. After work I will walk and go home to eat leftovers from my fridge. I intend to do a little cleaning so there won’t be time or opportunity to spend money.

Can you believe I didn’t even survive a day? How sad.