Tag Archive: no-spend month

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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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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And it starts VERY quietly.  We started at 12:00AM 2/1, and actually read books before going to bed last night. We’re not even twelve hours in and I am noticing how very peaceful our house is. I’ve always preferred to have a little bit of noise about, and to not have the TV on or Jeff playing video games is really quite interesting.

My mother made a comment last night that this month will be ‘good for your marriage’. With Jeff not working and me on maternity leave still, it might also be a very challenging time for our marriage. That’s a lot of time to spend together! We haven’t both not been working since we first got married seven years ago. I suspect we will come up with creative ways to find our own time apart.

We’re also starting the month under threat of what the meteorologists call one of the biggest storms EVER. That’s right, EVER. We roll our eyes when they say things like this, because here on the lake – things can blow over and never touch us. It’s actually snowing though, and it’s really starting to come down. Will we get feet of snow? Maybe. If we weren’t doing this experiment, I would run out and grab more groceries – but that’s really not necessary. We have a stocked pantry and cupboards – and would survive if we got snowed in.

When I was young, my mother used to read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books to us (Little House on the Prairie for you non-readers). Laura recounts one winter out in the Dakotas where it snowed so much that they had to dig a tunnel out the door because the snow was piled up to the second story. That’s my benchmark for big snow. We aren’t even close to that yet.

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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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