We had a desire to get our spending in check after the holidays — especially as we knew we were planning a big trip to Costa Rica. Both Christmas and the month of January were expensive as we had the holidays, travel and little L’s birthday. We figured February would be a good time to cut back on anything that wasn’t a necessary purchase. This didn’t mean that we’d just buy everything by January 31st or be ready to get it on March 1st — it was a challenge to be content with only the things we need and avoid the need to buy, buy, buy all the time.
Our guidelines were pretty simple:
- Groceries/Food (but limit eating out to no more than 3 times a week)
- Household necessities
- Toiletries / Diapers
- Gifts for friends / family
- any bills we had
- new clothes (please stop emailing me J Crew!)
- new toys
- pedicures / massages / luxury self care items
- books / magazines
- concert tickets
- race entries
So how’d it go?
Pretty well as far as the things that were included and avoiding the things that weren’t included. We spent about 1/3 of what we normally do in a month and realized we could do without most of those other things on a regular basis. I unsubscribed from a lot of the stores that send me sale emails on a daily basis to prevent that temptation.
We slimmed down our Amazon subscriptions for the month and only got the things that were absolutely necessary / things we were going to run out of if we didn’t reorder. We saved about $100 here (we get a 4 pack of 2 different kinds of air filters, but we were able to move these to March as we had enough to get through February).
I ordered 2 books for my two book clubs as I need to have them read by early to mid March: The Storyteller’s Secret and The Proposal. I also went to the movies one evening with a group of friends for $5.
We signed L up for swim lessons — which we deemed necessary for our trip to Costa Rica. He didn’t love being in the pool last year (preferred the splash pad) and we wanted him to be comfortable on this trip. They were only $56 for 5 weeks which felt pretty reasonable. I did have to buy new swim diapers, a new reusable swim diaper and new swim trunks for him which probably brought our total for this closer to $100.
We’d previously booked a babysitter and planned a date night to go bowling with a group on Friday night but the bowling was already paid for and we had budgeted for our babysitter. The world had different plans for us that night and we ended up rushing our sweet Tucker to NC State’s Emergency Vet center as they believed (and later confirmed) he has congestive heart failure. In between uncontrollable crying, we laughed about how “no spend February” had just turned into “spend all the money February.” There was no doubt it was going to be an expensive trip when we learned there’d be an overnight stay for our pup. Needless to say, we missed bowling which we’d already paid $70 for, we ended up having the babysitter from 4:30 PM to 11:30 PM and owed her $84 (instead of the originally budgeted 3 hours) and we had two vet bills… one for our regular vet who had referred us to NC State and then NC State. Our date night ended with burgers and fries from Wendy’s because that’s all that was open at 11 PM when we left the vet.
So, while we kept our normal spending in check, we had an emergency that blew the budget. It was unfortunate and unforeseen but absolutely necessary to take care of our doggie. Without that, we would have done really well and saved quite a bit in the month of February. We’ve decided to continue this for the next few months and just consider it our “new way of living” with the understanding that we needed to purchase a few things that were previously on the “not included” list but are actually needed now (like new shorts for our Costa Rica trip!).
Have you done a no spend month or contentment challenge? How’d it go?