Tuesday, January 31, 2017

No Spend February: Introduction and Preparation

If you follow this blog and have read my Resolutions post, then you know I plan to do a No Spend Month this February 2017. This means that I will go on a spending freeze throughout February. For a calendar month, I will spend on needs, not wants. In this blog post, I will detail my inspiration, thoughts, rules, preparation, alternative activities, objectives, and check-in plans.


I just got into watching YouTube videos sometime last year, so I was not aware the No Spend Month was the popular thing to do for January. When YouTubers started to announce their intentions at the end of December or January 1st, I wouldn't have had time to prepare, let alone decide to actually take on No Spend January. Of course, I had to research this topic further first. The YouTube channel Jamie's Simple Life inspired me to do this kind of challenge. This is my first No Spend Month/Week/Anything, so I like that February is the shortest month of the year. I am a spender and I expect this to be a difficult challenge for me.

Usually, you read about INJFs being all-or-nothing. And that certainly is true of me in many ways. But, INFJs are value-driven individuals and I believe in moderation. In other ways, I don't do extremes. I don't diet, for example. I don't often deprive myself of anything I want, allowing for at least a little. I consider this challenge to be extreme. It doesn't feel like something I would normally be drawn to. I'm up for it though.

The No Spend Month is personal and I have set my own rules. I plan to pay rent, utilities, bills, laundry, doctor's appointments as well as buy medicine, contacts, and groceries using "new" money earned during the month. I will not purchase anything extra for the 28-day month. I will also not direct any money towards saving for anything else during these four weeks.

I do plan to go into the month with a bit of "old" money. I have $21 in cash in my wallet that I am allowed to spend. If (when!) I spend this little bit of cash, I will not consider it a failure whatsoever. I want a little money just in case something comes up or I really want or could use something small. In addition, if I want, I am permitting myself to use the two gift cards that I've had in my wallet for years now, a $10 gift card to Applebee's and a $25 Walmart gift card. These are my only exceptions.

In addition to not spending on extras, I plan to spend a bit less on food. My grocery budget for the month is $100, which is $25 a week. I love to eat and didn't want to go crazy spending on food just because I cannot purchase anything else. In the store, I want to mostly add fresh vegetables and dairy products like milk and cheese to my basket. I would like to limit meat, prepared foods, pantry items, and ice cream for this month.

For the majority of my groceries, I plan to patronize my local grocery store, Giant, that I can walk to each week. I am limiting myself to a single Target run all month long. One. With a short list of only food items in hand. That week, my combined total at Giant and Target will not exceed $25. Sometimes, Target is cheaper as well as easier to get to. If we get a lot of snow (it's snowing as I type this), it might be quite the trek on the unshoveled sidewalk to the grocery store, which is a block further than Target. To help avoid temptation, I deleted my Cartwheel app icon from my phone's home page. This Target discount app remains under Apps icon though, making it just a step less easy to access. I will try to stay off of it until I am planning a shopping trip soon. I replaced this shortcut on my home page with ibotta, the cash back app.

Trying to make this challenge a success, I have prepared for weeks now. Well, I stocked up as much as I could it being the season when my income is at its lowest. I have replenished makeup including purchasing a new CoverGirl mascara at Target when it was 30% off on a Cartwheel discount. In the last few weeks, I bought a bottle of conditioner, a month's worth (which is two packets) of my hair conditioning treatment, and many bars of Dove soap for the shower. I stocked up a bit on many paper products such as toilet paper, paper napkins, paper towels, and paper plates. Plastic products too, like snack and sandwich zip bags. I have more cleaning products like dishwasher detergent in my cabinets. Also, I have bought a little more wine than usual lately and saved most of the wine I received as a Christmas gift. No, I'm not considering Chianti a necessity for this challenge. I have even bought food pantry items, especially more expensive ones like my two different kinds of olive oil, so that I can more easily stick to my grocery budget during the month. I counted eight boxes of pasta. Yes, eight. I buy it when it's on sale! This challenge is an opportunity to use what I have.


In addition to stockpiling, I have also prepared by having informed many of my colleagues, friends and family about this challenge and will continue to do so. That way, my friends know not to make plans to go out with me yet. I still plan to entertain in my home. I have a girls night in at a friend's house scheduled this Saturday night as well. Additionally, I ordered pizza from a small business on a Friday night in January to get it out of system for awhile. Cutting costs (and calories), it was only a medium pizza with half pepperoni, but I savored it.


Having done a pretty good job preparing overall, I am still not as ready as I would have liked to be. I simply wanted to have more of many items. I am low on: cleaning products I use weekly like Windex and magic erasers, the personal care item of toothpaste used two to three times a day, the beauty product of powder used every morning, the baking supply of cupcake liners as well as food staples for me such as seasoned croutons, dry roasted peanuts, and granulated sugar. Plus, I am completely out of chocolate truffles! I can buy more food, just not the other things, unless I spend that "old" cash. My work shoes will need to be replaced soon, but hopefully they will either last or I can somehow do without this particular pair until I receive my order placed the morning of March 1st. Another thing I wished that I would have done was to go shopping at my favorite store HomeGoods recently. I haven't been since the middle of December and have been itching to go all January.

Since I do not own a vehicle, I no longer visit stores, restaurants, and coffee shops often. However, I do browse websites all the time. In attempt to diminish temptation, I will try not to check the websites and emails of my favorite retailers nor my Amazon wishlist. I also removed my Amazon app from my phone's home screen, replacing it with the calculator. I plan to replace this virtual window shopping with alternative activities. The main thing I would like to do is to blog more. I would love to publish 9 posts in February. I have so many book reviews and other posts to write! I would love to do another home tour. In addition, I am going to read more. In fact, I plan to add a book to my already full Winter Reading List. I have already purchased the paperback on the related topic of living well with less and will likely dive in on the 1st! I will reveal this book in a post soon.

I hope to get a lot out of this. First, my objective is to add to my savings. I am not comfortable with posting large numbers on the internet for safety reasons, but I hope to hit a particular savings goal of a portion of the $1,000 emergency fund, which is Dave Ramsey's 1st Baby Step. Even though I have never read nor listened to Ramsey, bloggers and YouTubers who I follow love him, so I know what he basically recommends. 

A second thing I hope to get out of this challenge is a life lesson. I want to truly appreciate what I have. More than repeatedly focusing on the next thing again and again and again. In this never-ending cycle, there is not a moment when I simply feel content. As an INFJ, I don't like, I obsess. And I am constantly obsessing over the next thing or two I plan to purchase. When I have money, I spend it. Specifically, I am a reward spender, meaning that since I work hard, I deserve the things I want. Also, I desire everything to be just so. After this challenge, I want to be able to spend less and I think practicing sincere gratitude for my current possessions is a starting point. Furthermore, I want to be less materialistic and more concerned with what truly matters in life. Many Americans tend to be live to work, when many Italians work to live. 

Third, I want to be excited about savings. I haven't been enthusiastic about it before. I don't believe that as a result of this challenge, I will transform from being a spender into a saver, but I do want to gain a greater interest in saving money. They say there is motivation in "snowballing" your debt, but I'm not there yet. These three changes will serve me well in life. I feel it is time for all this.

I will practice being frugal for February and show you how in blog posts throughout the month. Because I'm apartment poor, paying down debt and on a budget prior to this challenge, I will also share a few of my personal frugal tips which I hope you find inspiring, not advice you normally find out there. For some added accountability, I will take you along with me, sharing my progress, temptations, and busts. I may even snap a picture of my "grocery haul" and name each product in a caption, similar to what is done on YouTube. I don't plan on posting an update on a particular day of the week, but you may expect fairly regular check-ins. I predict that my No Spend Month will be a success. Wish me luck!

Did you do a No Spend January? Or are you with me for February?



9 comments:

  1. Good luck. I look forward to reading about how your month goes. I may join you in this.

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    1. Grazie! I'm gathering so much content already! I hope to post an update early this week.

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  2. Good luck! I'm thinking about doing a no spend March so I am keen to hear how you get on.

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    1. Thank you! It's going well so far. Stay tuned for an update soon!

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  3. I am excited to follow you on this journey, I hope to learn a lot and put it into practice for March!

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    1. I'm excited about my first update. I've been taking pictures to support many things I'm going to write about all week.

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  4. Good luck! Looking forward to hearing about your experience. I have never tried a no-spend month but it sounds like it would be beneficial for me.

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    1. Grazie! It's still early, but I hope it does what I want it too!

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  5. Hello

    I am trying this i have a food shop coming Saturday and i have planned all my meals for the remaining days of February and all my bills are paid so i need to sit tight for the next 18 days. Oh i am taking my mum to lunch for her birthday but i feel that is a must.

    I am from the UK

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