No-Spend August: We’re Doing This Thing

You guys, Olly’s first birthday party was on Sunday and we’re STILL recovering. I’m going to be tired for a week. It was so so so so good. I can’t wait to show you ALL the photos and tell you all about it. Here’s one little sneak peek we got from  Kimberly Lane Photography, and it’s a framer for sure. Love love. His actual birthday is Friday, so we get to celebrate all over again.

While we wait to see the rest of the photos, I wanted to tell you about this thing we’re doing this month: we’re going on a spending freeze!

What are we thinking?!

We usually live pretty frugally and are great at watching our budget, since that whole quitting my full-time job thing like four years ago. But we’ve done a lottttt of spending this summer — new clothes, Olly’s party, new furniture and landscaping, and some boring but expensive home repairs like repairing our sprinklers — and it’s time to just take a break. I’m actually SICK of buying things! Spending is really a slippery slope, where I feel once I start, I actually get in the habit of just “buy buy buy.” Not only do I end up spending a lot of money, but I end up with things that I might not really need and might not even want that much in the long run, because something was on sale, or I just felt like buying a new shirt that day, or I was desperate to find something right away and had to settle … We’re ALL guilty of doing those things.

I recently listened to Young House Love’s podcasts where they talked about taking a month off of spending (episodes 93 and 97), and I was like, “oh, that actually sounds kind of fun.” I love a good challenge. And the timing couldn’t be better for us to start this month. One of the things they said was that you have to start with ground rules because otherwise you will always try to find a way to justify a purchase, and goodness knows I will justify things six ways to Sunday.

Andy and I sat down and talked through exactly what we can or cannot buy in the month of August. Obviously we’ll be paying our bills like normal, buying normal groceries, buying toilet paper and diapers when they run out, etc. We’re not going to deprive ourselves of things we need or drastically change our lifestyle. It’s just about getting back on track with our spending and not finding excuses to buy things that we don’t need.

So here are our rules:

— We can only buy supplies for ongoing projects, not start any new projects. Whatever supplies we do buy, we need to actually use right away, not buy something for some future project that we hope to maybe try to get around to eventually. We decided to narrow down our list of projects, too, because we have such a long to-do list. The projects that we plan to work on in August are building the storage wall in Joey’s room, continuing landscaping, cleaning out/organizing our garage, and finishing the kitchen stair railings.

— Only one coffee shop coffee each week. Eek. This one is hard. For a while we were going to Starbucks more often than we should, and then we made a conscious effort to switch to a local coffee shop instead of spending money at such a huge chain. And since our local shop is only about two blocks away and super delicious, well, we both started going three, four times a week. It became my favorite morning ritual to get the kids up and walk to get coffee first thing in the morning. For me, not them. And well, I alone was spending about $15-20 on coffee each week. Times two for Andy and that’s a little ridiculous. So we’re limiting it to one a week, and then I can work on perfecting my mocha frappe at home on the other days of the week (this is my current favorite mocha frappe recipe).

— We CAN still go out to dinner. We usually go out to dinner once or twice a week and we don’t want to limit ourselves. This is a challenge to save money, not to have zero fun! Getting out of the house is super important to my sanity, and I think it’s great for the kids too. Plus, who could possibly meal plan for seven days?!

— Andy is going to stop going out to lunch at work. If he gets invited out by co-workers, that’s fine, because, again, this isn’t about depriving ourselves of all fun, but he isn’t going to buy lunch for the only reason that he was too lazy to pack something. He’s also going to stop buying snacks from the vending machine at work… which, really, is just in everyone’s best interest, right?

— No new clothes or shoes, no new makeup or hair products, no new household supplies, no new toys or books — EXCEPT if something we use daily or truly need runs out or breaks. It has to be something we need right away, not like, oh this nailpolish I like is gloopy, but I have like 25 other colors I could choose. But, the lightbulb in our laundry room burned out and obviously we need to fix that because I’m not doing laundry in the dark.

— We CAN buy gifts for others. Specifically for my birthday! Or if we happen to get invited to something that requires a gift, of course we can do that. This isn’t meant to be a punishment for others, just a way to get ourselves back on track with our spending.

So I think that’s the gist of it. Hopefully that covers everything. I’m so excited to circle back to this at the end of the month and let you know how it goes. I’m VERY curious to know how much we save, what we find the most difficult (my guess: coffee!), and if we make any mistakes or cheat at all. Stay tuned!

Now I’m going to go… not think about things I want to buy!

What do you think? Would you or have you ever done a spending freeze? I’d love to hear!

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