A Year of Less: A Low-Spend January


What better way to kick of our new year than with a no-spend month?

What is a no-spend month, you ask?  I suppose each of us could define our own.  Perhaps on the more radical end of the spectrum, one could vow not to spend a penny on anything.   Maybe another person’s idea of a no-spend month would be not spending any money on anything that isn’t a true need.  Of course we each define things like needs and wants differently!

For me, a no-spend month would include not buying anything unless it is an item we absolutely could not live without.  But the way I’m defining it for my current purposes, it’s really a low-spend month.

1) No clothing, shoes or accessories <–this is easy because everyone in my family currently has all needs met in this area

2) No toiletries or cosmetics, unless we completely run out of something like toothpaste or deodorant <–I’ve been using my stickpiles up, so we may not quite be able to make it through January in some categories

3) No purchases solely for the purpose of “stocking up” or hoarding <–I’m not a fan of stockpiling, which I’ve discussed here and here.

4) Limit grocery purchases to perishables and staples that need to be replenished, and try to eat from the pantry <–I really need to reduce the amount of food I’m storing, since I want to switch to a simplified pantry where I only buy what’s needed for each week’s mealplan

5) No home decor or furnishings purchases

Now, there are a couple of caveats to my plan.

1) K’s 8th birthday is in January.  I’ve already bought her gifts by way of going overboard for Christmas for her and realizing that she was going to have several gifts more than each of her siblings.  Rather than returning, I’m simply hanging onto them.  We traditionally throw a party for friends and then have a family dinner out, after which we see a movie. This year we decided to do one or the other….big party or dinner and a movie.  Katie definitely wants the dinner-and-a-movie treatment.

2) I like to refurbish furniture and make a little extra money selling my completed projects.  I had a backlog of projects since our move in August, so in September I vowed not to buy anything else until after the new year, to give myself time to get caught up. I’m still not 100% caught up but if I get there sometime in January, I reserve the re-invest some of my profits in future projects. 🙂

3) Entertainment…I’m a little hesitant to say no spending on entertainment all month, since our kids are homeschooled and sometimes outings keep us from going stir-crazy.  We do have a zoo membership, so that’s something we can do for just the cost of gas if I remember to pack snacks from home.  And I find there’s a fine line between entertainment and education sometimes…but I’m certain we can avoid movies and the mall for one month.  Not spending on entertainment also will include not buying/renting any movies/tv episodes and relying on the library instead.

4) Books and educational materials, curriculum, etc. for our home school.   While I can’t imagine not spending a penny in this area, I CAN see us using our local library more and buying books less often.  I also probably have enough curricula on hand that buying more isn’t a NEED.  I do WANT to try a new math program, but it can probably wait!  If I can’t resist the urge to buy something that I feel one of the kids needs, I’ll sell something to pay for it.  I have a whole pile of items we no longer use that I haven’t been motivated to sell yet!

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