For 2020, we decided that a no spend year would put us back on track to saving more money and consuming less. We of course have a few rules and understand that everyone’s idea of a “no-spend” challenge is different.
Why did we choose to do a no spend year?
Over the last year, we have really felt the pull of consumerism. Buy this! Oh, you’ll need this, too! Don’t you want to eat out three times a week? It’s affordable, buy it! We felt that our spending did not have to keep up with what the world told us.
Almost three years ago, we found minimalism. Minimalism changed how we shopped and how we kept our home entirely. But having a baby changed that in a way. There is just so much out there for babies and kids for us adults to purchase and worry about.
With a setting specific goals around this no spend year, we will reset our spending habits, save money, and break our consumerist cycle.
No spend “rules”
Trying to have a full 365 days of not spending money just isn’t realistic. Not for anyone. That’s why we’ve created some rules around what we can and cannot buy.
- We can purchase groceries that are needed for the monthly meal plan. First, however, we need to use what is in our pantry.
- Household products such as toilet paper, laundry detergent, and the like can all be purchased once we get low on our current supply.
- Personal care items such as soap, shampoo, and shaving cream are okay, too. Same theory applies here: no more brought in until we run out.
- Clothing can be purchased if it is a true need. An example would be underwear, socks, or something that gets worn close to everyday.
- No eating out unless we can pay for it fully with a coupon or gift card.
- Entertainment such as concerts, movies, or bowling cannot be done unless they are paid for 100% in coupons or gift cards or are free.
- Vacation is okay – we’ve been planning for a while! Plus, we will use credit card points and cash back almost exclusively.
- Extra payments on our auto loan are acceptable because… debt.
- Gifts cannot be purchased. Rather, they will all be handmade this year (cards, cookies, cakes, bread, sugar scrubs, etc).
To help us with our no spend year, we will be heavily utilizing our 72 hour list. Instead of it being just for 72 hours that we have to wait to buy something, it will be a full month. It will most likely be practical things that make it to this list.
How did we do in January?
In January, the kick-off month of this no spend year, we actually did pretty good.
We did surprisingly well with no eating out and no shopping (we will get to the exceptions in a bit). It was easy to not eat out since I meal planned for a full month. We really stuck to it. No pizza carry-out, no lunch out, no cheesy gas station taquitos – nothing!
Because we cut so far back on our spending, we were able to save an extra $500 this month. This is on top of what we normally save… Crazy!
We have adapted pretty well to this frugal lifestyle. Read more about it >>>
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I was hellbent on finding something free for us to do on our very first no spend date night. And I did it!
I scoured Swagbucks for gift cards that I could redeem with no avail. I simply didn’t have enough points. But, as I searched through emails on my “store coupons only” email address (you need to have one too!) I saw an old one for Dave and Busters.
I immediately found our Power Card from D & B and registered it. We had 8,000 tickets left on it. These tickets can be redeemed for silly toys OR food. So that’s exactly what we did – we redeemed 1,750 of our tickets for two appetizers. Free tastes good!
Now, before you say “But you did spend money on that!”, let me explain. Previous us would spend hundreds of dollars every year at Dave and Busters. We’re huge kids on the inside. But we hadn’t been back in over a year and honestly, those tickets that we did spend money on a long time ago would have gone to waste. So we used them. We tipped our waitress with dollars we found in our coin jar.
Then we used two AMC movie coupons that were given to us to see the newest Star Wars movie. Again, free!
Our babysitter was our amazing neighbor who just loves our kiddo. We provide dinner and Netflix. 🙂
The not-so-great points of our no spend January
We spent money on what you may call non-necessities. Which is true. But, I have to weigh this no-spend challenge against frugality. Frugality wins sometimes.
- Underwear – I’ve worn the same underwear (about 10 pairs) for over two years now. Even though they are a great brand, underwear wears out eventually. I scored three pairs on clearance at Wal-Mart for a total of $5.50. I threw out a few old pairs and the new ones work great.
- 3T Clothes – I went to Once Upon a Child to sell some of our kiddo’s out grown clothes that we didn’t need to save for a future baby in the next two years or so. We ended up with a ton of trade credit so I purchased some 3T clothes (two shirts and two shorts) using a little of that credit. Now we have all four seasons of 3T clothes for our kiddo to grow into (Bonus: I scored it all at rock bottom prices!).
- Discs – This is totally on my husband… He loves playing disc golf. It’s a cheap sport to get into and it gets you outside. Long story short, he wound up at a disc golf store to pick up some of the discs he lost, felt bad about not buying anything and left spending $15 on new discs.
- Fishing gear – Again, this one is my husband’s purchase. Our neighbors cleaned out their garage and Dan purchased fishing gear from them for $10. He says it’s worth it… I’ll take his word for it 🙂
- Grocery budget – I slightly overspent on our grocery budget this month. This was in large part due to my Sam’s Club trip at the beginning of the month. We were out of allergy medicine, vitamins, baby wipes, diapers, and a few other things. $170 was spent. The upside is that we won’t have to purchase vitamins or allergy medicine for at least three months!
What’s next for February?
February isn’t a super exciting month for us. Although, we’ll be trying a few new things:
- I’ll be blogging more, maybe even creating my first product for sale!
- Same for sewing. I’ll list more inventory in my Etsy shop for spring, St. Patrick’s Day, and Easter.
- Pantry Cooking Challenge! In an effort to further reduce our grocery budget, we are taking on a Pantry Cooking Challenge! In essence, you only use what is in your fridge, freezer, and pantry to cook with. Fresh produce and perishables should be the only items purchased at the grocery store. Look for a post on this coming in March!