Last month I shared that our family would be embarking on a first time ever no spend month. I was excited to see how much we could save by not spending money on anything unnecessary this month. I decided it would be helpful to keep a record of all the things I didn’t buy that I normally might have.
Things I’ve said no to this month
30% off at LLBean (this was so painful they NEVER offer 30% off, though I realized later that it’s good until September, but I’m still going to think about it carefully).
$.99 for a Beatrix Potter audible deal
A new coffee maker (I smashed my carafe the day after declaring no spending month, I’ll buy a new one once I’ve replenished our savings account and set aside money specifically for it).
Impulse Items at Target
A summer sale at Elegantees including a top I’ve been wanting and waiting to go on sale.
30% off a dining bench from Target online that I’ve been wanting for the kitchen to increase our seating.
Prime Day! There were so many things on sale on Prime day. I did in fact manage to live without every single one.
Coldstone Creamery BOGO coupon
Honestly I stopped tracking about halfway through the month. Mostly because I got used to saying no. Now that we are back to relatively normal spending habits, I am trying to keep a lot of what I learned in mind. Now before I make a purchase, I try to ask myself some key questions.
Do I Need This?
I truly hate asking this question because the answer is almost always no. Unless we’re talking about basic foods or necessary repairs (like a broken hot water heater or furnace). This forced me to realize how much I DON’T need that I’ve grown used to having. Essentially wants that have disguised themselves as needs.
Why Do I Want This?
Sometimes the answer helps me realize that I’m feeding an unhealthy habit or planning too far ahead. (I’ve discovered that planning too far in advance can be a form of control, lack of trust as well as a scarcity mentality that I try to avoid). Something pretty and new for myself may lift my mood for a moment or two but eventually I’ll be sorry. But if an item is going to add long term value to my life and make my life easier or more streamline in a specific way, then it might be worth considering.
For example: our kids have more water bottles than they probably need. However, I have a system where one is in use and one is being washed. That way I’m not quickly scrubbing a dirty cup before running out the door in the morning. I bought myself an extra laundry basket recently. Could I have done without it? Yes. But having an additional laundry basket means my daughter can have her own and not share with her brother (with whom she shares a room). Since we are working on her being responsible for her own laundry, this will help facilitate that process.
Is There Something Else I Can Use Instead?
When my 2 year old wanted a smoothie and I realized we no longer had any intact straw sippy cups, I was tempted to just jump on Amazon and order a new one. But instead I decided to try sticking a stainless steel reusable straw like my big kids use, into the open hole in the top of the straw cup. In this case, it actually worked. I still have to watch to make sure he doesn’t throw it, but there is less spilling than with a completely open cup. Sometimes, when we decide we aren’t going to buy something, it forces us to be more creative and resourceful with what we do have.
Is There a Less Expensive Option?
When an item must be purchased, I’m teaching myself to ask if there is a less expensive option. Sometimes, paying more for quality is worth it. (I’m also a big proponent of ethically produced goods so, at times, I am willing to pay more to know that the people who make my stuff are being appropriately treated and compensated for their work). Sometimes, the urgency of needing an item means you have to pay whatever it costs now. Other times I can afford to wait for a better price or consider a different option. Maybe I can purchase second hand or even borrow from a friend. Maybe there is a simply a less expensive option available. (A manual can opener vs. an electric one for example).
Did I enjoy my no spend month? Not really. It was hard. I didn’t like it. But I did learn a lot about how I purchase things and why. We didn’t save as much money as I was hoping. But we also stayed on budget and took some internal inventory of what we already own, and what can potentially be sold to fund other things we want (like a new kitchen light fixture that actually gives light). I’d like to do it again and some of the ways I determined if a purchase was a need will become a regular part of my decision making.
Have you ever tried a no spend month? What did you learn?
My No Spend Month was inspired by More Than Just Making It, the new book by Erin Odom scheduled to be released on September 5. I’ll be talking about it more in the future and you’ll see quite a bit about it on social media, but until then, check out the fantastic preorder bonuses on her site.