Swearing off spending for February

28 01 2009

We won’t be spending any money in February. You read that right. No spending. Nada. Zilch. El zippo.*

My husband initially thought I was crazy when I brought up the idea. Then he shrugged his shoulders and reluctantly agreed. He reminded me that it would really be most difficult for me because as the stay-at-home parent, family organizer and social planner, I am the one who does all the spending. Aside from filling up his tank every 10 days or so, he almost never spends any money. So go for it, he said, shrugging again.

*I do want to disclose some fine print on this. We will pay our mortgage, electric, gas, cable and phone bills as well as make our monthly contributions to our investments and our church. We will put gasoline in my husband’s car so he can get to work. If someone gets sick, we will go to the doctor. And I will make use of my gift cards, all received as gifts or earned through coupons or rebates. (You might consider this cheating, but it’s my experiment so I’m allowing it.)

We will not, however, spend actual money on groceries, clothes, entertainment, lunches out, gifts or any other discretionary item. We will not spend money to make ourselves feel good. We will not spend money just because it’s “a good deal.”  Ugh. This might be harder than I thought, especially since I just got word today that Harris Teeter, my favorite grocery store, is going to offer triple coupons during February.

I first got the idea for a no-spend month after reading fellow blogger Katy’s account of her family’s two-week experiment with making do. Click here to read the first of two weeks’ worth of installments, which chronicle their struggles and triumphs as they ate their way through their pantry, agonized over their purchase of gasoline and lamented their last drops of olive oil. 

I thought, we can do this. And I bet we can go a month. OK, I did pick the shortest month of the year, but we are committed to seeing this through four full weeks.

Who knows what I’ll have to say come Feb. 28, but at the outset I’d like to see how much money we can save by cutting our expenses to the absolute essentials. (Now I realize cable TV is not essential, but we can’t really cancel our cable for my month-long social experiment. Not to mention, I highly value my marriage so the cable stays!) In today’s uncertain economy with thousands of layoffs being announced daily, I think it’s important for us to know how low we can go on expenses if the unthinkable happened.  

Second, I’m interested in seeing how our life changes. Will our routines change?  Will we view life with STUFF differently than life without STUFF. Will we feel deprived? Thanks to coupons and an already frugal way of life, I know for a fact we won’t go hungry. Our pantry, fridge and freezer are full and I still have one last grocery run to make in January. (In case you’re wondering, I won’t be spending any more than usual. When I total my January spending, I still expect to come in well under the $50 a month I budget for all our food, cleaning supplies, toiletries and dog food.

I am hoping for a simpler, slower-paced lifestyle. Theoretically, since I won’t be spending, I won’t be shopping, which means I’ll be at home more. Being home more means I’ll have the time to do things that always seem to get pushed to the bottom of my to-do list. Things like reading, scrapbooking, organizing my closets, exercising more, baking bread, playing more with my daughter, talking more to my husband, filing our paperwork, selling things on craigslist, giving things away on freecycle, working on a sewing project, enjoying the company of friends.

Mmmm. We’ll see.

In the interests of transparency, I will report in weekly, if not more frequently, to let you know how things are going. I will admit to any spending violations. And I welcome your comments.




9 responses

29 01 2009
Andrew Dunn

Fantastic blog post. I can’t wait to hear the play-by-play! I will re-Tweet this. (Tweet is up, according to a new entry on Twitter.com in the AP stylebook)

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