Saturday, January 12, 2013

No Spend update

(Art Room Vignette)

Okay, so far our January No Spend Month is going great! I think, though, it's more appropriate to call it a low spend month.  Still, we're doing fantastic.  So far I've only made the following expenditures:
  • Two grocery trips, about $300 spent.  A bit higher than normal, but we're eating totally at home. I've learned that it pays in the long run to spring for a few higher end items to make great meals.  That keeps us eating at home.
  • Two gas fill ups.  
  • Pet store---fish food and filters.
  • Spring baseball fees and monthly drum lesson payment for the elder boy.
  • $15 in craft supplies for the den, and Pinewood derby stuff.
  • $10 in Liquid Plumber.
I couldn't be more proud of my family.  The kids and husband are totally on board.  Here are a few notes from the month so far:

The plumbing.  Had a horrible clog in the drain the other day, caused by a rag stuck in the disposal, which was causing water to spill out of the dishwasher all over the floor.  Thankfully I caught it early.  I was able to yank the j-pipe off and catch much of the dishwasher water in a bucket.  I then used our 5 foot snake to try to unclog it, but it was too far down the line.  So I went to the hardware store and got a big bottle of drain opener.  I told my husband we've too often called the plumber only to pay $85 for someone else to use liquid drain opener.  Thankfully it worked and we were able to get all the mess cleaned up!

Kids Lunches. The kids have been packing lunches, but some days they are using the money that was already placed on their lunch accounts.  They have agreed that no more will be put into their accounts when it's gone, and that before February we will have a discussion about what we consider to be reasonable funding for hot lunches.  I don't totally dismiss hot lunches because both of my sons have gotten over a lot of their pickiness by trying new things at school.  And we are lucky to have a school that offers things like hummus and edamame.

Personal expenses. The husband felt that if we have cash of our own (we give ourselves an allowance every pay day) that we should be able to do what we wish with it.  So he's been out to lunch with coworkers a few times.  In June he begins working full time at home, so I get that he wants to socialize.  For my part, I took him out to lunch one afternoon as well.  It was kind of nice to get out of the house, but made me realize there's nothing magic about restaurants.  I don't want to make a habit of that.

Restaurants. No one has complained about eating all of our dinners at home.  Not a peep.  And every evening mealtime gets easier.  Now, my boys have been on a positive path with eating for a long time.  But the past two weeks they have just really stepped up.  They have eaten everything put before them, with very little alteration.  I couldn't be happier.

Memberships. I've decided to cancel my Weight Watchers membership.  I am working out almost every day, and in the long run that will get me where I need to go.  Weight Watchers is a fantastic program, and if you track your points daily, you WILL lose weight.  Alas, I don't.  I often either forget, or I've eaten so badly that I don't want to track.  Either way, it's no longer worth the $18.95 a month.  However our YMCA membership, even at $80 a month, is worth it.  I go almost daily, and on the weekends I can take the kids swimming or rock wall climbing.

Coupons.  I've also decided not to renew our local newspaper subscription.  We were down to the Sunday paper anyway, and that's mostly for the ads.  I feel a little scared to lose my beloved coupons, but over the years couponing has lost its appeal.  Lots of processed foods,  for one.  Also you can't get the wow deals anymore, and I'm convinced that the popularity of the show "Extreme Couponing" has led the manufacturers and stores to tighten up their coupon rules.  This irks me.  I used to get a real kick out of scoring a free toothbrush or mac and cheese box on a double coupon deal.  It never occurred to me to try to get a hundred toothbrushes!  The most extreme shopping trip I ever had was a 40% reduction of my total food bill.  It was fun, but now I see so many more strategies to save on groceries. Plus I estimate that the total saved with coupons doesn't even pay for the subscription. Also, about those ads: my husband and I used to religiously read every ad on Sunday morning, then spend an hour discussing what we "needed" before heading out to Target or wherever. On the whole, ignoring ads will save you the most money in the long run.  And I can still find most of the circular coupons online.

Socializing.  I'm doing much of my socializing at the gym, or at school or scout activities.  We had several of our friends over for New Year's Eve, and that's fun.  I also enjoy book club.  We usually meet at someone's house.  Economical, and fun.

So how are we filling our time?  Making meals. Cleaning up the Christmas stuff. Getting back into the swing of school and work.  Playing with the games and toys we got for Christmas.  Playing with forgotten games and toys from past birthdays.  Playing outside.  Listening to our CD collection.  Watching movies we already own.  Watching favorite tv shows. Revisiting forgotten ideas and projects.  When you get down to it, we already have far more than we need. There is never a lack of things to do around here.


  1. We do still subscribe to the paper because Bob actually gets a lot of satisfaction out of reading it almost cover to cover, and I love the comics each morning before I go to work. So to us, it seems like a worthwhile entertainment expense. But for years now Bob has deposited the coupons directly in the recycle bin as he brings the paper in, and I am convinced that is a major factor in the fact that I rarely go shopping other than the weekly grocery run. (I do have the circulars for a couple grocery stores delivered electronically. Just catching a few big items like meat and coffee when they are on super sale results in a lot of annual savings.)

  2. Thanks for the peek in your no spend month. I think couponing has lost it's appeal for me as well. We've been giving allowances for decades and it works for us!! We love when pay day shows up :)