No Spend December is officially over, and we’ve moved in to Spend Very Little January (ha!)
I thought I’d do a little recap post. Those who follow along regularly know that this year we made our Christmas tree, we used supplies we already had on hand for our Christmas cards, and we used gift cards and coupons for our kid’s presents.
I wanted to go a bit deeper into the day to day spending. We aren’t usually big spenders. We don’t care about clothing or cool gadgets. I’ve had the same iPhone since 2012. But, we’ve still got our bad habits. Having a no spend month really highlighted those things for me.
My number one temptation, for sure, is buying food/drink on the go. Eating out, grabbing a coffee or snack… It’s not an every day occurrence, but often enough that $5 here, and $10 there, add up at the end of the month.
Although food has been my biggest downfall, it was also my easiest to correct. The three things that usually lead us to eat out are:
1) Not having “the right” groceries at home – nothing that can be made quick enough, or running low on certain things
2) When the kids have sports practice late in the evenings – they are hungry and it just seems so much easier/faster to grab something on the way home.
3) Being out on the weekend and forgetting to pack snacks or lunch.
The snack and lunch part was simple, I stuck a few things in a secret pocket of my purse and left them there. Not exactly rocket science, yet something I usually forget to do.
I combatted eating meals out by making sure I grocery shopped regularly and had several quick dinners on hand (1 box of pasta + 1 can of tomato sauce = a perfectly fine dinner some nights). I also accepted that it’s okay if we eat later in the evening. When my kids were young I felt this push to have them in bed by a certain time every night, which often lead to picking up food for dinner on busy nights. I still like my kids to go to bed early (mostly for my own sanity), but they are getting older and I’m accepting that sometimes they don’t get home from basketball until 7:30, which means we might not eat until after 8, and that’s okay.
Grabbing coffee became a bit of thing for me several years ago. Whenever there was something I didn’t want to do, I’d bribe myself by offering myself a coffee for doing it. Expecting a tough client at work? Coffee. Early soccer game? Coffee. Long night with the kids? Extra. Large. Coffee. This passed fall it became a major crutch for me. After Violet’s surgery I could barely force myself to go to work (because it meant letting her out of my sight). I went from grabbing a coffee once a week, to grabbing one every single day. I rationalized it by telling myself that a daily coffee was cheaper than quitting my job, which was what I was tempted to do. By December I was super ready to kick this habit. We do have free coffee at the office, but it’s mediocre at best. I bought some flavored creamer, stuck it in the work fridge, and wa-la. The work coffee was instantly
My other problem area, is doing expensive things with my kids. December is so prime for invitations to everything. It was hard to say no to Christmas sing alongs, ice skating with friends, tickets to the nutcracker, and all the other fun things that we usually do. But once you say no a couple times, it gets easier. We did some fun free things, but we also just relaxed at home a lot (super unusual for us). I don’t plan to go crazy, but I’m looking forward to not being so strict on this in January.
I wasn’t sure if I should include a rundown, but I didn’t want to give the impression that I was completely perfect this month. Some of these were iffy on if they were required spending or not. For example, that hefty uber charge was during surge prices home from a necessary event. We could have taken the subway, which would have been cheaper, but it was super late, so public transportation would have taken forever, and thus we would have needed to pay the babysitter more, etc etc etc. In the end I decided to include all spending that wasn’t the standard bills, groceries, and gas:
$4.18 – Prints for our 38 Christmas Cards (splurge)
$11.22 – Wine when we had company (splurge)
$4.54 – Uber in the rain (semi-necessary)
$3.75 – Uber home from a Drs appt (semi-necessary)
$100 – A few charities we feel passionate about
$80.54 – Uber home from Rob’s work thing (semi-necessary)
$60 – Babysitter during Rob’s work thing (semi-necessary)
$6.35 – Coffee on the drive to Williamsburg (splurge)
$27.12 – Fast Food, on the drive down to Williamsburg, I should have packed dinner (splurge)
$60.25 – Ice skating and skate rental (Total splurge)
Not perfect, but even with a few slips, much better than December usually is for us.
My biggest goal for No Spend December was to get the check for our new roof mailed in, which we did. So WIN. We just need to have a frugal January to get our savings account back in a reasonable spot (I’d like to get to the point where I don’t feel a panic attack coming on every time I look at our bank account). Now that the roof problems are out of the way, I feel this huge weight off my shoulders. 2017 you are already looking fabulous.