How I Survived “No Spend” January



Spoiler alert: I did it! I made it one month on a spending freeze!

If you read my goals for 2019, you know that I am trying to accomplish (3) “No Spend” months this year. After a hectic and expensive December full of gifting, hosting and attending multiple events, my wallet needed a time out. I vowed not to step foot into a Target, Home Goods, and clothing store for the entire month of January, plus stop eating out for lunch and no more weekly coffees. I stopped being #Basic for the month and here’s what happened.

What I Bought (and didn’t buy):

What does a “No Spend” month really mean, and what could I purchase? The rules and guidelines I set for myself were:

Purchases could include:

  • Weekly groceries
  • Bills and utilities (obviously!)
  • Gas and car expenses
  • Birthday gifts
  • Work functions/donations
  • Dinner and drinks with Nick or friends, but limited
    • This was a huge factor of consideration for my spending freeze. While eating and going out is most certainly frivolous, I did not want to hermit myself at home and say no to group activities with my friends. While out, I made conscious decisions on what I ordered, and even evaluated the importance to each invitation to hangout. My friends knew I was on a spending freeze and didn’t push me, which also prevented hurt feelings when I decided to only hang out one weekend instead of every weekend.
  • Monthly facials
    • I also maintained my routine of getting a monthly facial. My skincare is important to me and something I’m working towards. While facials are frivolous, I didn’t want to jeopardize my journey for healthier skin.

The purchases that were off limits included:

  • Saladworks and other lunch purchases
  • Starbucks and Dunkin’
  • Target
  • Home Goods and Hobby Lobby
  • Any form of clothing store including malls, outlets and money-saving stores including Marshall’s, Ross, Kohl’s etc.
  • Amazon

Did I Save Money?

The answer is yes. I did save money, especially from packing my own lunch and making my own coffee. Compared to December, I saved $114 dollars alone on those two categories:

  • Saladworks (saved $89)
  • Starbucks (saved $25)

While I cannot track the savings from Target, Home Goods, Marshall’s etc… as easily due to the holiday, last month I spent an average of $200 thanks to those Target Dollar Spot impulses and a variety of home decor items that I just “had to have.” I also stopped getting my eyebrows and lip waxed in December and January, using tweezers and an at home facial hair remover. Annually, that small tweak will save me $400. Comparing credit card statements, I can proudly say I saved roughly $400 this past month!

Where I Failed:

I’m not perfect you guys, let’s face it. It’s not fair to you to only hear how I succeeded this month so here are the three instances this month where I cheated, while alter my traditional spending.

  • January and February were full of birthdays. I found some Shutterfly Sunday Freebies that I could use as gifts and also got a free phone case for myself. The shipping was $20 but to get 4 free items with 2 of them as gifts, I found that to be reasonable!
  • Last month was also filled with work events and meetings and I desperately needed new work pants. Rather than spend $100 on Ann Taylor pants I love, I found an Amazon “dupe” of the pants I like for only $23! The pants were a necessity for work but I was smart in choosing the lower cost pair, and not getting sucked into the Ann Taylor website where I know I would have purchased more items anyways.
  • I felt like I scored big by finding a Home Goods gift card still with $75! I was able to go with a friend and shop around, and only spend $8 over the gift card price. This was one of those moments where I could still go out and have fun on a Saturday without overdrawing my account.

What I Learned:

It’s important to know that while I saved money, we did end up spending more each week on groceries, to cover the additional lunches and meals made at home. But that additional cost doesn’t compare to the savings I accrued.

The lesson I learned and valued most was re-evaluating my wants vs. needs. In today’s world, we have stores on every corner and 2-day shipping at the click of a button. We can’t step away from consumerism and all think we need the next, new thing! I practiced self control by taking screenshots of things I saw throughout the month I thought I wanted. On February 1st I went back through and ultimately decided that none of those clothing items, products, and consumer goods were necessities and worth my money. Thanks to my “No Spend” January, I started shopping rationally again instead of frivolously. I feel like a more conscious shopper, and less inclined to impulse shop.

Have you ever gone on a spending freeze or re-budget certain purchases to save money? I’d love to hear the ways you found successful!

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