Sunday, January 12, 2014

No Spend Week One Review

Well, we're deep into week two of no spending here in the Stark household.  I thought I'd give you all a little update on how we're doing.  Let me remind you of what our goals are for the month.

After a month of holiday spending, my hubby and I are taking January to get our finances back on track and have officially made January a "No Spend" month.  This means we gave ourselves a $200 budget for the ENTIRE month which includes all expenses (excluding gas for our vehicles and normal bills like our mortgage).  In order to achieve this goal, we're practicing a little self control when it comes to buying things we NEED and/or items we WANT.

Cheap (but delicious) Stew
I found during this first week that sometimes what we WANT is masked as a NEED.  Let me give you a little example.  I ran out of coffee creamer at work this week and I found myself saying that I NEEDED to get to the grocery store to buy another.  However,  in my refrigerator at home,   I had two half bottles.  My focus on my finances made me pause and realize I didn't run out of coffee creamer,  I ran out of my FAVORITE FLAVOR of coffee creamer.  I was masking a WANT with a NEED.  You see what I mean?

Let me give you another example.  I found myself doing it again later in the week with shampoo.  I thought I would have to run out and by more shampoo, however, I have a whole container full of sample shampoos that I've been saving for months and even years.  What am I saving them for?  I tell myself to use them when we go on vacation or camping but I had at least 12 sample bottles and at the rate we go on vacations, that would take me about 15 years to use.  Now these samples are not my favorite brand of shampoo, which is why they have been laying around as long as they have, however they are perfectly fine shampoo.  So, I spent 15 minutes squeezing all those tiny jar samples into my big bottle.  I didn't really NEED more shampoo.

You see how this is working?  These excess products are all over our houses, they are all over mine.  They take up space, they cost money, and their not being utilized.  This was the second biggest reason we wanted to complete a "No Spend" challenge.  We wanted to reduce and in most cases get rid of the products by using them and we're doing just that.  Not only do you save money by not going out and buying more "stuff" but you start to de-clutter your surroundings.  It is truly a win-win situation.

I'm sure you're all wondering how we're doing, right?  Some of you might be secretly hoping we crash and burn at this little challenge, that's fine, I'm a little evil like that too.  Some of you are playing along, that's great!  I hope you are feeling a little uncomfortable but your wallet is feeling a bit fatter!

 We're actually doing really great.  Now I'm not a fool and I know (because I've done this once before) that the first week is the easiest but I'm still really happy with our week.

The boys on New Year's Day
For the first three days we didn't spend a penny.  Not one little penny!  We didn't eat out, we didn't go grocery shopping, We ate lasagna for left overs, made BBQ chicken from the freezer, used up vegetables we had remaining from our CSA.  It was good, not great, but good.  We survived.

On day 4, I spend $.99 on an electronic file of lips and mustaches (for a wedding game I was in charge of, more to come next week) and I spent $3.16 on shipping for a brag book I created.  There was a free offer for a brag book from Walgreens with free shipping, I could pass up that offer so I spent a couple hours creating my book.  By the time the book was created, the free shipping coupon disappeared but I decided to buy the book anyway.  I decided by two hours of time was worth $3.16.
On day 5, my oldest son and I went to visit my grandfather who fell ill and was in the hospital, because of poor planning on my part, we ate lunch at the hospital.  That cost us $4.30.  After the hospital, my son and I went to Wal-mart and returned some duplicate Christmas presents that we received.  With that in-store credit we bought two household essentials:  milk and cat food (we were completely out of both and couldn't delay that purchase any longer).  The net amount we spent was $1.51 (after the store credit).  THANK YOU SANTA.

Day 6 was spend free.

$18.80 in groceries, only the necessities
On Day 7, my son and I (his school was closed due to extreme cold) headed back to the hospital to visit my grandfather again, this time with a packed brown bag lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Are you proud of me?  I learned from my mistake a couple days earlier and gave myself 10 minutes to pack a lunch for us.  Usually I would have used this visit as an excuse to eat on the road, but not today.  On the way home we stopped at the grocery store and picked up some food we needed for school and work lunches.  

So here is the total for the first 7 days:

$.99      Digital file
$3.16    Shipping on a brag book
$4.30    Lunch for J and I
$1.51    Milk and cat food
$18.80  Groceries
$28.76  TOTAL

Well under our $50 for the week, good thing because I have a feeling that I'll need that cushion later in the month!  If you're playing along, share how it's going.  Here is a great blog to read for more inspiration on being FRUGAL.

In my next post I'll probably share with you my biggest hording area and the area that costs my family the most amount of money.


  1. I've been trying to do the same thing with extra bottles of shampoo, conditioner, lotion and soap. I started creating bins to check of extra products before I run to the store and buy anything. It's truly amazing how much stuff accumulates!

  2. Yes! Agreed! For little tiny bottles, they sure do add up fast. I find myself doing this with condiments. Not sure if I have ranch dressing, catsup, or mustard, I'll buy it to be safe. When I get home, I find out I already had three bottles of it!