Tag Archive: money


At the beginning of the month, Jeff and I declared February a ‘no-spend month’.  Now, we’ve made it the full 28 days… so here is our thoughts:

Taleah: The first couple of days were really tough as we adjusted overnight to no TV, fast food or video games. At first, I found myself missing the noise of the television or the games in the background. But after about three days, I began to appreciate the peace.  I read books that I’d been meaning to read for a while. I knit a few rows on my shawl, but you really can’t be distracted in the middle of a row – so not much was done there. I fell in love with baking. I cooked several good meals, and a couple of terrible ones (a cautionary tale).  No fast food was tough at first too – and then we realized how often we relied on that fast food when we were busy. Now, we can make a pretty decent pizza for about three bucks – and it’s not covered in grease. Just the thought of most fast food now is a little bit disgusting, since I can make a lot of it myself now.

Originally, I thought that I’d be all motivated to deep clean the house – and that didn’t happen. As I got into a routine, I noticed that some parts of the house were cleaner and more organized – but overall… not that big of a difference.

I’m very proud that we made it through the whole month. We heard from a neighbor that he couldn’t believe we were giving up TV for a WHOLE MONTH. He had heard of people giving it up for a day, or maybe a week.. but a month? That was crazy.  And it was.  But in a good way, of course.

We’ll go back to watching tv, playing COD: Black Ops and buying the occasional slurpee. But I suspect we will do it with more discretion, that we won’t be glued for hours to the boob tube without a break. We’ll order fast food, but realize how it really doesn’t always taste as good as what we could make at home.  We saved quite a bit of money by cutting the unnecessary out of our lives this month and we’ll take a lot of that experience with us.

I call the month a success.

Jeff: Our month is over and I have to say I really didn’t miss the television.  I haven’t watched any TV nor did I really care to watch any since March has arrived.  I did miss my video games a bit, but after having a massive headache and throwing up after playing last night, I am not sure if I want to go back to it yet even.  The not spending money was kind of nice, I guess.  I don’t ever know how much money we have or should I say, don’t have.  So, that would be up to my wife to actually tell me if that really helped or hurt us at all.  It seems to me like it would, not eating out and not getting a $1.30 Slurpee every other day probably helped a bit, and might help if you look over the year of how much money that actually is.  I am still glad that we did it just to know that we could do it, and if we need to do it in the future.  Of course if my wife didn’t have the internet she might have gone insane.

(Taleah’s Note: I’m the banker in family. We didn’t chart out what the actual dollar savings were, but there was a better cushion of money at the end of each pay period. So it did help! Oh, and of course Jeff would go crazy without the internet too. How else would he spend hours and hours looking at Supreme Court cases and golf videos?)

Have you done any sort of a no-spend month? Or are you thinking about it? Let us know how it goes!

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at 12:01AM today, it was the official end of our no-spend month. We’ll have a recap of the month forthcoming, but it was delayed due to a massive migraine on the part of my writing partner.
There were a few video games played and I’ve caught up on a month of the Office episodes this afternoon. But we didn’t rush out and buy fast food and slurpees – I think our tastes have changed this month!

So in lieu of a real recap today, I give you a great SNL skit about money…

 

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I had great plans yesterday to write up some blog posts, get my kitchen cleaned up and maybe even make a shopping list. Alas, it was not meant to be.

Jeff and I LOVE movies. Before P was born, we saw one almost every week. It’s one of our favorite hobbies, and we are pretty good at picking movies. For example, the movie coming out called “Mars Needs Moms”? Ain’t going to make money and it’ll flop. We’re calling it.

Anyways, with me going back to work in two weeks – we wanted to see another movie or two before then. We decided on a 12:15 showing of “Gnomeo and Juliet”. At first, I was really loathe to choose it – because I figured they’d slaughter Shakespeare right and left, but Jeff thought it looked fun. Because we’d have P with us, we didn’t want to see any super loud action films.

On our way down the highway, Jeff and I were having a conversation about homeschooling and college. More of a debate, rather. Even though P is still a few years away from school, we’re starting to look at our options now. I was just making a (very good, in my opinion) point when the car shook. I looked up to see our car spinning and a little red car smashing into Jeff’s side of the car. We ended up on the side of the road, facing oncoming traffic. In what was probably a reckless move on my part, I threw open my door (next to the road) and rushed back to make sure P was okay. She was on my side of the car – the one that hadn’t been hit. She’d slept through the whole thing and was fine.

The kid that hit us was really shaken up, and he said that he had ‘just looked down for a moment’ before he hit us. (I think he was texting… let that be a lesson!) The car was pretty banged up on one side – the driver’s door hardly opens now. But the three of us were okay. Jeff was upset we were missing our bargain movie.

After almost two hours of waiting for the sheriff, waiting for a wrecker to put a spare tire on, waiting at the tire place for them to repair our tire… we were finally done. P was quite a trooper, but it left us all quite a bit frazzled. And then we did see a movie, since we were already in town and the car was drivable. (Side note: we both really enjoyed “Gnomeo and Juliet”. It was adorable and cute and Shakespeare people will get some of the more subtle jokes!)

Today, we got an estimate for the damages. We got two estimates, because we were sure the first was wrong. Both are over three thousand bucks. Michigan is a “No-Fault” state, which means unless we have full coverage (which we didn’t on our little ’98 Buick) – the other driver’s insurance is only liable for 500 bucks. Yep. That’s it. Now if we had three thousand dollars, we probably wouldn’t be driving around a ’98 Buick grandma’s car.

Worst of all, we found out that the accident bent one of the tires into the car – and it’s not recommended that we drive it at all until it’s fixed. Soonest we can have someone look at it is Monday. So we’ll probably have to cancel our weekend plans, give up theatre tickets and go nowhere till we can have it fixed – or it’ll take some very creative rearranging. We’ll fix at least that. The car will look really bad until we get the rest of it taken care of.

What’s funny is that Jeff’s always cautioned me against parking next to banged up cars in parking lots. “If they don’t care about their car, they sure won’t care about yours.” he says. Now I’m realizing they just don’t have money to get it fixed. Sorry, dumpy car drivers. I’m in your shoes now.

We have a second car, but we were told several years ago that it was on the verge of death, completely un-drivable. We’ve hung onto it, and probably will till the wheels fall off – but it makes us nervous driving any further than in our little village. And that was before we became parents! Now we’re twice as nervous! So we may try to get somethings done in that car, but not much.

So yeah… this week is going nothing like what I had planned. I could use a pretty strong drink at this point.

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Picked up a magazine at the health food store while I was exploring new and different foods to cook. (I came home with sample sizes of millet, quinoa and couscous!)

One of the articles made me think:

“Plastic water bottles consume 1.5 million barrels of oil a year. That makes buying a reusable water bottle the single most environmentally responsible move a fitness enthusiast can make.” Energy Times magazine Feb 2011

I’d argue that it’s the best move that ANYONE can make. You know most bottled waters are just tap water in a pretty bottle, right? So not only is it good for the environment, it’s good for your wallet too!

Do you carry a reusable bottle? If you do, what’s your favorite brand? I tend to be a collector of reusable bottles, and have at least five knocking around the house and the car.
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Well, we’ve done it.  Made it through a whole week! I’m rather proud of the effort – here’s some highlights:

Silence is golden

And that’s the truth! At first, I hated how quiet the house was. I’ve always been one to turn on the TV in the background for some noise while I do other things. But now I find myself listening to more music, and I even downloaded a few courses through iTunes U.  I’ve also read more in the last week than I probably have in the last year. I’m almost through re-reading C.S Lewis’ Space Trilogy, and currently reading The 4-Hour Work Week. We even went to the library and checked out several more books to read over the next few weeks.

Advertising is addictive

As one of our stated exemptions from the No TV rule, we watched the Super Bowl with some friends yesterday. I’m an ad junkie (and a marketing junkie in college) so I love the advertisements. After going without TV for a week, I was really surprised at how I reacted to some of the commercials. Arby’s had a few commercials and by the end of each, I was drooling and craving some fast food in the worst way. In fact, while I was out running errands today – I passed an Arby’s and got that same craving again. We are conditioned by those ads. Scary.

The ads weren’t that stupendous this year, and most left me bored. But I did have one that was my favorite ad:

Gave me goosebumps then, and gives me goosebumps watching it now.  It’s one of the best commercials in years.

Cooking is an art

And we feel like we’re just playing around with finger paint. We had never realized how much we had eaten out before – and cooking for ourselves has been an interesting experience.  There was the pizza attempt, where it took us three tries before we had a successful pizza dough (how we managed to mess up pizza dough, I have no idea!).  We ate spaghetti twice, since it’s easy and we knew we couldn’t mess that up.  I made stew for supper and decided to be ambitious and make heart shaped biscuits. They were delicious. My second batch, made from the left-over dough went into the oven as we were sitting down to eat. My bright idea was to turn off the oven and leave the biscuits inside to cook. Save energy, and they will still bake properly right? No. We had a laugh about it, and promptly trashed the bad batch.

“Mommy knows better now.” I advised my daughter who was snuggled up to me.

Jeff sighed. “But father knows best!” he declared.

Silly man.

A penny saved is a penny earned, and time saved…

Overall, we’ve saved money and I’ve been amazed at the things I’ve been able to accomplish. I even reorganized my freezer! We’re not spending money this month, but I foresee using some of this freed time for those home improvement projects that I’ve been putting off.

I think moving forward, we will be keeping a lot of these practices even though we won’t have any hard and fast rules about it.

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Jeff and I are trying an experiment in February. We’re calling it the ‘no-spend’ month.  Essentials only is the aim.

Here’s a few of our guidelines:

  • No slurpees
  • No fast food/take-out pizza, even when we’re tired (or lazy)
  • No gratuitous purchases at the bookstore or grocery store
  • Stick to a grocery list at the store, no buying extra things because they’re ‘on sale’ or a snack because we’re hungry on our way home.
  • Eat out of our cupboards/freezer
  • No money spent on movies

In addition to the no spending rules, we’re also going to make some rules about using our time.

  • Reduce/eliminate TV watching (Exemptions for the Super Bowl, movie award shows)
  • No video games on XBox, iPod or computer

Even though we’ve set this out, we’re giving ourselves some flexibility in it. For example, we received gift certificates for our local movie theater at Christmas time. Pairing that with some concessions items that we had earned through the theater’s rewards program, and we’ll be able to see a movie for free.  I’m also doing my cooking challenge, but it will be incorporated into our grocery list – and we’ll still stick to it.

It’s going to be a difficult month at first, since we’re used to queuing up a TV show on Netflix when P is up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep. But I think as we go along, we’ll realize how much nicer it is to explore some of our other hobbies or even find new ones!

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