Friday, January 02, 2009

My January Challenge

I don't know about you, but our family spends SO much money in December. Sure, there are many expenses we plan and budget for, but it's the little things that really add up and leave me feeling like we just bleed money during the month. Twenty dollars here or forty dollars there adds up so quickly. Being out of town for two weeks in December (two weeks!) also seems to have exaggerated some of our spending.

With that in mind, I'm challenging myself to spend nothing outside of groceries, gas, and household items for the month of January. 

(Just typing that out makes me a little nervous.)

John and I talked about it this morning and he's on board.  

Honestly, we're not big spenders anyway.  We rarely eat out.  We don't buy "stuff" we don't need.  We don't have every techno-gadget that comes out (or very many at all for that matter), and our closets contain wardrobe basics.  We try very hard to live within our means, BUT...I still think we could do better.  

I'm not quite sure what this no-spend month will look like for me/us.  

I think more than anything, I just want to think twice before adding things to my buggy (same thing as a cart for all you non-Southerners) or before handing over my debit card for purchases.  I want to ask myself if I really, really need something or if maybe I can get creative and use something I already have instead. 

There are some challenges that already come to mind.  I know a couple of my kids' friends have birthdays this month.  I'm hosting Bunco and need to come up with a hostess gift.  But I'm already thinking creatively, and that's a good thing!

The thing I anticipate being the hardest?  I'm a slightly addicted huge fan of Starbucks and our local teahouse, making at least one trip a week.  Maybe January will find me having a friend over for coffee/tea instead, or coming home and making a cup for pennies, or possibly using up my stash of gift cards that I've been saving.  

Could be an interesting month.

I realize that I'll probably have to give myself some grace in this, and that's okay.  I'm not much of a legalist anyway.  I really view this as more of a challenge to get me to change my thinking patterns than anything. 

So...anyone wanna play along with me and try to curb your spending this month?  Or anyone wanna volunteer to ask me how I'm doing from time to time?

20 comments:

Amber said...

What a great challenge. I'm a huge impulse shopper. I don't buy high ticket items, but I'm a sucker for new cleaners (even though I don't need them) or a new candle here and there. I've thought before what my checkbook would look like if I only bought what was on my list....amazing concept, huh?!?

Hope you can stick with it! Let us know how it goes!! I think I'll jump on board with you!!! :)

Tiffani said...

I am with you on curbing spending in January...it's always hard after this that and the other in December (and the months leading up to it)...

I will help keep you accountable and you me...k? I totally with you on the "grace" thing too...

Stephanie @ My Answered Prayer said...

Count me in....but going out with justin and becky tonight doesn't count does it since it was already planned and we haven't seen them in so long and we can plan a girls night in Jan b/c we REALLY need one!

My biggest problem is seeing Fabric or yarn or such that I love! I've been perusing the blog world for ideas for next Christmas and birthday ideas for kids and have some ideas on things to make...the girls are easy...it's the boys and adults that I struggle with.

Tax Season is about to start so it's basically just me and the kids so I'll have to be held accountable b/c it's so easy to go to Burger King to eat and play just to get out of the house.

Thanks for the challenge!

Deidre said...

I certainly understand needing to cut back after December. I can't wait to see how this works for you. Eric is taking a job in a week that God has clearly led him to, but it will be less pay for awhile. That is essentially why we moved in the first place (anticipating a job change), but now there is so much I want to do to this house :) We'll see ...

Elizabeth said...

I want to do this! But I'm too scared.

I am a little bit of a legalist and the thought of failing makes me cringe. I'm thinking about doing it in February. That way I have time to plan for it and commit myself wholeheartedly.

I know you'll succeed. Good luck!

leigh said...

I could have written this post...and I'm already ahead of you!!! My brother said I'm in a spending freeze and that's exactly what it is. I'm actually finding it kinda liberating to say 'no' to spending. My advice is to take it week by week. Good luck, and I'll check in with you.

Ginger@From The Cocoon said...

Awesome idea...I will totally ask you how you're doing...but I can't jump with ya this month. I'm going away on my annual Scrapbook retreat at Heber Springs with some girlfriends and I know that I'll probably spend. I will try to cut back, but I know that No Spending isn't a reality for this month. And yes, some of that is fear. Maybe February??

Christi said...

Great idea! We have actually been working on living more like this for a while now. It is amazing how much you become aware of when you really start to pay attention. We have often said how shocking it is that we used to spend so much without really thinking about it. We try to be much more intentional, and much less wasteful now, and are truly thankful for the shift that it has made in our thinking...not to mention helping out financially! :) Good luck...you will not only save $$$, but I bet you'll end up with some valuable insights as well! Happy New Year!

Christi said...

Great idea! We have actually been working on living more like this for a while now. It is amazing how much you become aware of when you really start to pay attention. We have often said how shocking it is that we used to spend so much without really thinking about it. We try to be much more intentional, and much less wasteful now, and are truly thankful for the shift that it has made in our thinking...not to mention helping out financially! :) Good luck...you will not only save $$$, but I bet you'll end up with some valuable insights as well! Happy New Year!

It's All Good! said...

I think it's a great idea. We've already been in this mode for quite awhile but there are always areas we can tweak. Just doing like you said and thinking before handing over the debit card is a great tip. I'm with ya!

Gretchen said...

I feel exactly the same way as you, Meredith, and I know Big is feeling the pinch.

Since we are thinking about tackling some small projects around the house to give ourselves some motivation and show some progress (everything needs fixing, repainting, or replacing, it seems), but not to crimp the wallet.

Tell you what I'm prepared to do: I will fast from Target for a month, and go from there. My only "outs" will be if something turns into a "need" or if one of our home improvement projects needs something which can be purchased more inexpensively at Target than at Lowes.

I like how you think, girlfriend!

Rae said...

Oh yikes! OK, yes, I'll play along. DK will be THRILLED that I am doing this. Ready, set, go!!!

Buggies and carts are called carriages over here in New England. :)

Jennifer said...

Does your local Target or Walmart or Sam's Club have their holiday items/toys on clearance? Ours does and it's awesome for stocking up on birthday gifts. I was at Sam's this afternoon and got some awesome birthday gifts. I know that it's hard to buy now but I figure I'm actually saving money if I do now. So for about $60 I have gifts for just about every birthday....friends and family! Plus even a few for those invites I don't even know about yet. ROFL

I will say that I am pretty happy that I start Christmas shopping in January and do a little each month. I've done it for years and I have found I save money. The only drawback is storage. LOL

Becky said...

I'll vouch for Steph...she didn't buy anything at books a million tonight!

You guys have fun! Going to the Degray Scrapbook weekend in 2 weeks so I'll definitely be spending some extra money!

*carrie* said...

That's so great, Mer. I've been thinking about that lately, too. I hope you'll keep us posted about how it's going--what the biggest challenges and triumphs are!

Moriah @ Please Pass the Salt said...

Ooh, I'll take this challenge!!! I need to do it, anyway. And I have a stack of books from the library, which always helps me stay home and spend less money.

carpoolqueen said...

Eek - I'm already out - I was out on January 1 with a big sale at Dillards. I am doing a similar thing, except only with the groceries. Other than bread, milk, eggs, and fresh fruit/veggies, I'm going to try to eat out of the cupboards and freezer for the entire month of January.

Michele said...

I am hopping on this bandwagon with you. I have felt really convicted about wasteless spending lately especially eating out. We do WAY too much of it. Plus, it is bad for your health. Okay, I'll be checking in on you, check in on me to -K? That way I'm held accountable!!! Thank you for being my bloggy friend!!!

Jacquie said...

I'll be checking in on you to see how it's going.

Becca said...

I'm right there with ya sister! My husband and I have been having to tighten our belts for the last several months. December was such a hard month for it though with a trip to Texas for us. It's hard to stay within a budget. We're like you in that we don't get every new thing and we don't spend money on clothes etc. The place I bleed money is the grocery store. I've drastically cut Starbucks and any spending on books.
I'm hoping for a frugal year!