No Spend & No Sugar – Week 1

Yowzer! Who would’ve thought there’d be such interest from you all in what I wasn’t even sure we should write about (since it’s not technically paleo)… our resolution to make January a No Spend month. I’ve gotten a disproportionate amount of requests to talk more about it – both on the blog and the podcast, so… here’s the nitty gritty.

A Recap

We’ve been doing no spend month for one week now and I can honestly say the first week was MUCH harder than the 21 Day Sugar Detox we’re also doing.

However, I’ve realized – with just ONE WEEK – on the plan, exactly where our issues with spending are. I thought we’d feel the change in impulse purchases which quench our self indulgent nature. I’m known for over-indulging the boys’ especially.

I go to a store for 1 thing and they sucker me into buying them each something before we leave. Every time we go anywhere it’s “Mommy, can we get Redbox? Mommy can we get a new Pokemon pack ($4)? Mommy can we get more of the flavor of Larabars I like because we only have 8,473 other snacks I don’t like as much?” And then I, who was raised by a single mother whose budget limited our ability to buy just about anything, am driven to want to make sure they feel secure and provided for… so I spoil them. Rotten.

Avoiding Self Indulgence – Wants

But indulgent spending has actually been the easiest to avoid. I don’t need to go to the store. And when I do, I take a list. And if they ask me for something I say, “We’re not buying that right now, remember? Just only things we need!” And I say it in my perky voice so they know that it’s fun to have a personal challenge and say, “Oh, yeah!” and we move on. No temper tantrums. No declarative statements about how deprived and abandoned they feel.

Shockingly, it’s true what they say, they’re happy with my time and attention – it’s not the stuff I buy for them that matters. Want some examples? Here are ways I tried to choose to avoid being self-indulgent:

  1. When my new Athleta catalog arrived I lamented the inability to page through and mark which I wanted to buy. I’ve got an obsession with their clothes that I swear are made out of clouds, so I posted an Instagram about the torture of it all. Vanessa of Healthy Living How To saw my photo and resultingly sent me a generous gift certificate to Athleta. I could have justified it’s not actually spending money – but, I knew that’d be self indulging on items not NEEDED and so I filed it to use as a celebratory gift in early Feb once I complete my first month of CrossFit.
  2. I had purchased new jeans over the holidays and they took a long time to finally arrive at the house. When they arrived, one pair fit and one didn’t. I’d wanted 2 pairs at the time, but instead of going to the store and exchanging the 2nd pair, I kept with the spirit of the month and said I really didn’t NEED a 2nd pair – so I just returned them.
  3. Our full length mirror in our bedroom broke. And as much as I thought it was a NEED to replace it, I realized there are other places in the house I can see my full body and it simply takes more effort. Not ideal – but, a replacement is a want – so I’ll try to find a used one at a Thrift store or something in February.
  4. Cole got an assignment at school to do a project on Native Americans that requires a book – we don’t have one. Normally I’d just go on Amazon, have one delivered in 2 days and add it to our bookshelves, because surely we’ll have use for it again. But when Cole asked I said, “Why don’t you and Daddy go to the library and see what they have?” And he got excited about the idea!

Sales Hoarder

That said, I mentioned this was HARD. So if it’s not the self-indulgent items that’s the problem, what is painful? SALES. Oh. Em. Ghee – I had NO idea I was a sales hoarder. Evidently, I’m incapable of turning down a sale. A coupon. A discount. A clearance. Any way for me to feel like I’m saving in the long run, I love to spend more in the short!

I say that because most of the time we don’t need the item being sold! Or we use twice as much if I buy a huge amount of something than if we partitioned ourselves out with moderate purchases. Seriously… our pantry and freezers have TONS of stuff, we need NOTHING. Yet a sale comes out and I feel the need to bulk up.

The hardest part – sales! Despite insane deals, I avoided buying:

  1. Toadally Primal MEGA e-Book Bundle – Seriously, what kind of evil plan is it to make a “deals” shopper see this type of Paleo awesomeness? There are so many e-books there we don’t own that look fantastic. But, I don’t NEED them. So I restrained.
  2. Groupon to Great Wolf Lodge – We LOVE GWL and this deal is to a location we’ve never been to, a suite we’ve never tried and includes MagiQuest, which the boys love. However, we just went in November and don’t NEED a vacation right now…so I convinced myself to back off the purchase button.
  3. Athleta, new jeans and a MILLION things thrown at us every. single. day. The commercials and e-mail advertisements are GROSS at this point.

The Justifiable Mistakes

I did, however, make some purchases this week that I kind of regret. I felt justified at the time. But once they were in the house I thought, “We didn’t actually NEED that.” Here’s what I bought and why:

  1. Β GT’s Kombucha – It was on sale for BOGO at Whole Foods this week. Usually we patron MTO, but with a deal I’m a sucker… We realized we were low on MTO and would need to place an order in January either way. I decided to get 2 cases from Whole Foods, I got one case free and the case I paid for was 10% off. Ultimately, I don’t regret this BUT I do regret doing the remainder of my grocery shopping there as a result – I spent probably 15% than I would have at Wegman’s!
  2. Pure Indian Garlic Ghee – This Ghee tastes just like Papa John’s dipping sauce. Seriously. If you haven’t tried it, do. Problem is, it’s only available on this site (that I can find). I justified buying this because it was something I tried to buy in December and said to myself, “I’ll just wait for a sale.” So, when the code PALEO-GHEE for $10 off $35 came up – Matt and I talked and decided it was a worthwhile purchase. However, to ensure we didn’t overspend, we carefully calculated the per ounce cost to see what the price was by buying a 6 pack for a bigger discount orΒ  just the minimum to meet $35. We also calculated cost based on size of jar. Ultimately,I don’t regret this and I know we made a decision with logic, not impulse.
  3. Springfield Butcher – Our local butcher had a Specialicous coupon, spend $15 and get $30 worth of meat. Although I wasn’t going to buy this because we didn’t need meat, I realized I had $30 in Specialicious “money” for referring friends. So I used those referral dollars for 2 coupons to the butcher – for use when we do need meat!

What we actually spent money on so far

So, (other than our usual bills) how much money did we spend in week 1? I hesitate to put numbers down because everyone’s budget is different. But for us, our grocery budget is looking like it’ll be half of what it usually is and what I call our “Entertaining & Shopping” budget is about 10%.

  • Unique Thrift Store – $8, we had to buy a telephone for the house (only one, NEED but found used)
  • Home Depot – $11, one of our toilets broke. Instead of calling a repair person, Matt figured out how to fix it himself for the cost of the part!
  • Groceries $278, included some piggie parts for Beyond Bacon photo shoot, the kombucha and remaining foods for the week
  • Ghee $32
  • Wal-Mart/Target $65, for household items we couldn’t do without
  • Gas $55, for 2 cars

We’ve made strategic choices about what we’ve purchased, where and why. It’s been the BEST exercise for our family and I’m SO glad we’re doing it. I hope this was helpful. I recommend this to all families (if you’re not already on a budget out of necessity). How’s your resolution to improve your life in 2013 going?

p.s. Stacy’s lost 7.5 lbs on the Sugar Detox. She’ll have before and after pictures of how VERY bloated she was to cause such a drastic loss so quickly!

You Might Also Like

  • JulieJo

    So glad to see this post!! My husband and I are also starting the year in this same direction!! Thanks for all your posts!! I too have 3 boys and it truly is wonderful to see other parents with the same “boy” household!!

    • there’s a special bond those of us mothers of 3 boys have with one another πŸ˜‰

  • I also have three boys and also grew up in a household where we didn’t have a lot and I have the hardest time telling my boys no… but this year I am focusing more on “need” and less on “want”… I have had to purcahse some things this year that I wouldn’t normally purchase, but I’m doing the autoimmune and it’s tough her ein Utah to find good grass fed beef unless you buy the whole cow πŸ™ I can’t wait to see your success pics!!! I forgot to take “before” pictures but I am happy with how the protocol is going so far!

  • I grew up with a single parent as well. Our very basic needs were met but there wasn’t much extra. I think (know) b/c of that I give in to most of my son’s requests. Our doing the month long spending hiatus has been a good way to explain NEED vs WANT to him. Plus we’ve discussed how blessed we are. Hopefully it will stick & carry over past this month.

  • Lily

    This is inspiring! We’re trying to get our spending under control after the holiday season, and it has been hard. I’ve found a big help for me is going through and unsubscribing to all the emails I get from stores, online sites, etc. that always tempt me to spend. If I don’t know about the sale, I won’t miss it! But we have a lot of work to do and this post helps remind me of that.

    • I’m working through doing the same thing as a result – I realized I was getting nearly 100 a day!!

  • I’m a single mom to just one baby (a girl), which is a shocker since most of the other commenters have multiple boys! LOL I’ve never really had to worry about budgeting before this past year, when my daughter was born, and I took a huge pay cut ($15K) to have a job that allows me to work from home. I have yet to figure out how to budget, or rather curb my spending habits. This is inspirational, and a good kick in the pants, for me to start limit my spending as well. Thanks for deciding to write this “off-topic” post!

  • Growing Slower

    Your insights are amazing! I’m so happy the No Spend Month Challenge has been a good experience for you so far. I’d love it if you would link up your post to this week’s NSM update on my blog!

  • Sarah in CA

    Wow, This is a view into a world I never thought of. I came from a two parent family and we lived sparely. Now my husband and I home school 3 kids on one income. A military life never gave us any option but to be very cautious about what we spent, how we spent and when we spend. The Military housing we have lived in is small by any standard. 3 kids, 1 dog, 2 bedrooms, 800 Sq. Ft. there is simply no room for stashing. I’m thankful for this life and the lessons in the difference between wants and needs and the lessons we teach our children. Thanks for showing me a different life.

    • Sarah that’s how I was raised, and the first few years of Matt and I’s marriage were the same way. I definitely am thankful that was the way it was – it drove me to who I am today.

      We’ve been fortunate to have our income support more wants over the years – which is not to say that we live extravagantly. But, we’re fortunate to have more than quite a few families and I want the boys to grow up understanding and respecting that – which means focusing much more on needs than wants πŸ™‚

  • TJ

    Wow! Inspiring to say the least. But $55 on gas for TWO cars? Lady, you’re doing way better than me haha we spend $55/PER car a week! But we are in Cali!

    • Only one of us commutes, and it’s in a Prius for a few miles πŸ™‚