Sunday, March 8, 2020

Week One of My No-Spend Month

It's my goal as a minimalist to make all aspects of minimalism feel more accessible. It's certainly not a lifestyle for everyone and that's perfectly fine. However, I love the benefit minimalist living has on my finances, and I'll be detailing how my No-Spend month goes, week-by-week.

Week of March 1-7

The day before our no-spend month started, we made a small grocery trip to restock fresh meat and a few convenience foods we knew we'd need throughout the next month. Beyond that, we have started to rethink our grocery strategy which is normally a $300+ big haul at the start of the month plus a couple other smaller trips for convenience items. This month we'll be putting an imperfect foods delivery service to the test to see if it can meaningfully save us money on the essentials.

Day 1: It was a lazy Sunday which was the best start to a no-spend month I could have asked for. I had a late night with friends over until 1:30 AM, drinking loose leaf tea and decaf coffee with me and the husband. Saturday I sold a piece of furniture for $60, which will pay for my "cheat" day to see a concert that I've been planning on going to since January. Day one proper, however, was spent sleeping in late, sipping loose leaf all day, and enjoying some self-care in the form of a face mask and stripping off yesterday's already-chipping manicure. I did have a friend share a picture of a goodie bag he got with a tea order which, I won't lie, made it tempting to order more tea. But I snapped myself away from that temptation when I realized just how much tea I already have, and how long it will take to get through. Despite having a "lazy" day, I worked on getting a lot of laundry done to start the month off on the right foot. All it cost to have a couple weeks of outfits ready was my time and some soap and water.

Day 2: This was the first work day of the no-spend month, so I had the benefit of zero shopping opportunities between 8am and 5pm. Throughout the day, I got messages from friends asking me to attend a creative writing workshop at the very new local Creative Healing Space. The timing was good enough--the event ran from 5:30 to 7, and I stayed until about 7:30. That was two hours spent networking, getting some decent writing done, and not spending any money to have fun. It was a very refreshing event and I met so many cool people that I had never before seen in town. Even in a small town where "everybody knows everybody", there's always someone new to meet. As a bonus, the friend who runs it sent me home with a box of cookies to share with my husband; it was an unexpected treat, and a very pleasant one that made a no-spend month feel like it wouldn't be a chore.

Day 3: I won tickets from a drawing at work to see a concert in town. The tickets on their own for the show would have been $20 per person, and even if I had paid that much the show would have been well worth it. However, with the point of a no-spend month being to not spend money, the concert was a great way to have fun for free as a perk from work. I also signed up for Imperfect Foods delivery; non-convenience groceries like produce and meat are still free game in the no-spend month. This was a $60 grocery spend for several pounds of meat and fish, and lots of produce we frequently use in our cooking. Day 6 will be the first hint of whether or not imperfect grocery delivery can save us money long-term.

Day 4: The first three days of the no-spend month flew by. I had a job interview today which took a lot of my focus until it concluded. Work in general kept me occupied, and I used my breaks to write and read instead of shop. I got a craving for Chinese food, but opted to stay home and cook a stir fry from scratch instead. I came to the realization that not every day in the no-spend month was going to be easy, but I accepted that boring or slow days are just fine. After cooking and taking care of some quick chores, I spent the night baking my own hamburger buns to test a recipe.

Day 5: It was the first pay period of the month, and instead of putting 10% of my take-home pay aside for discretionary spending like usual, I put it toward my remaining credit card balance. I mailed off the utility bills, giving me two fewer things to worry about for the rest of the month. After work, I watched some free movies, made an experimental dinner with some foods we had on hand, then wound down with some sci-fi.

Day 6: The Imperfect Foods delivery arrived. I looked forward to it most of the week. Not all of the produce was a cost savings versus shopping in a store, but the sheer amount and quality of food I got for $60 felt well-worth it. It's several weeks worth of fresh produce, and I decided to roast up some of the veggies for dinner. For fun, I came up with a meal plan for the next week that would use more of the meats and produce we got in the box. I made a small grocery trip in for canned goods and milk, then spent the night baking hamburger buns from scratch and watching a movie with the husband.

Day 7: A lazy Saturday at home with no obligations to anyone or anything is always soothing. I slept in--a real rarity for me--and then decided to spend the late morning and early afternoon baking. Later in the evening, we played with the dog outside for a while, then made dinner and watched another movie together. It was a slow but very relaxing day.

Week one was easy with no real urge to shop. Of course it entailed spending a lot of time at home, but I had a couple of free things to do out in town and at home I took advantage of some free movies. Cooking and baking are a lot of fun for me, so I tried to fill more evenings with making healthy dinners and baking breads. If you try a no-spend month, or even just a week, look at what you have on hand for cooking/baking (or any other hobby) and see what you can make with it! Look for free events in your city or town and attend them--like me, you might end up meeting some cool people who share an interest or two with you. Overall, I think week one was a great success!

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