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No-spend hour

Our spending is in a bad way. It doesn’t feel like we are doing extravagant things, we have a modest house and older cars and spend almost nothing on clothing. But I know we can do better.

We are just about past birthday/Christmas/Disney World season, so it’s a good time for me to stop buying…anything.

The main problem here is the kids, and it makes no-spend months unrealistic. No spend – until a note comes home from school telling me there is a $6 fee for participating in the field trip. Or until it turns out the cheerleading team is changing uniforms and I need to buy a ridiculous $18 bow. Or the tights for dance need to be ordered, or it’s Christianna’s birthday, or there is a subscription app that the teacher says isn’t mandatory, if you hate education and want your child to fail.

So a no-spend month is a pipe dream, as is a no-spend week. Even no-spend days are dicey.

That said, the $27.40 figure keeps rattling around in my brain. $10,000, pissed away on ice skating entrance fees!

Today, I’m committing to something a little more flexible. I’m giving myself $5 a day, in cash, that I can use for incidentals. If I don’t use it that day, it can roll over into the next.

This won’t work for everything, and I’m giving myself some grace for things like “you need a new piano book,” because that feels like something that is a legit part of the budget. But for out-and-about money?

I’ve also added a line item in my budget for gifts. Hopefully that will help me to stay on track for other kids’ birthday parties, and if I can be diligent, keep myself on track for Christmas.

I’ve been working on the philosophy that I don’t buy something in a store unless I went to the store for that thing. This typically doesn’t affect me because I avoid stores (thank God for grocery pickup), but over Christmas break, the impulse spending was not cool. Even with grocery pickup, though, I still have to go into the store to refill our water bottles, and just that one trip every few weeks should cost $7.95…but there have been times when I walk out of there with $100 of stuff in my cart.

Is the $5 a day going to cover everything that comes up? Probably not, but it’ll help me to keep the big picture in mind when it’s time to buy another birthday present (a $12 present is fine!) or I think I might want Starbucks. I am hopeful that it will help me be mindful of the non-important stuff, like “please mom just one bag of chips?” and simultaneously help me to feel not guilty when we do spend money, as the funds should be physically there.

Day 1 started yesterday, and I’m starting Day 2 with $10 in my wallet!

9 thoughts on “No-spend hour”

  1. I like this idea~It could really help me alleviate impulse purchasing!

    P.s. I tend to feel bad when no one comments on your posts. Just so you know, I DO read all of them but only comment occasionally 🙂

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    1. Hi! Just want to add on that I really love reading this blog but never know if bloggers want comments, or if they’re just sharing their story and it’s weird and creepy to intrude. Anyway, if it’s not weird and creepy and is encouraging, this is one of my favorite blogs. I love the balanced way you approach things.

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      1. Thank you so much! I do love comments and don’t find them creepy or weird, but I also have on purpose not made efforts to make them grow (like by saying at the end of the post, “what about you? How much money do you spend on miscellaneous each month?” or whatever – it always feels awkward and unnatural to me). I grew up in the Quaker faith, where you basically are encouraged to speak if you feel so moved. I guess I’ve taken that philosophy to the blog.

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    2. I’m hopeful that it’ll help me – so far it feels like a good motivator. But it’s been two days, so we’ll see. 🙂

      Don’t feel bad! I appreciate comments but don’t feel lonely without them.

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  2. W do basically the same thing. I have a line item in our budget (and have for over ten years) called misc. and have $150 allotted. Some months we go over and others we don’t use it but it helped me with little things I didn’t budget for. Often my husband spends it on assorted crap we need at Home Depot and I spend the rest on stuff for my daughter (ballet tights, field trips, bookstore…). I found this kept me on track and realistically accounted for extra necessities so they didn’t blow my budget.

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    1. That is fantastic. For the first 35 years of my life, I was good at just…not spending money. Then when the kids started needing things here and there and hither and yon and here and there again, I forgot to update my habits!

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  3. Love the “teacher says there’s an app that isn’t mandatory if you hate education and want your child to fail”! It can definitely feel that way at times. I have a hard time not blindly going along with purchases the school suggests, and I’m sure it’ll only get tougher as they get older. Good luck with your experiment! It’s fun to think of adding the $5 to your total if you don’t spend it each day.

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