Monday, February 7, 2011

Project 2011: Buy Less, Give More - January Spending Recap

Hello there friends.  I hope you all had a fun Super Bowl Weekend.  We sure did.  We got a few more little projects done around the house, mainly hanging curtains in the kid's rooms and we hung a gallery style wall of pictures in the hallway.  On Sunday we hosted my whole family for Super Bowl and I got to snuggle and hold a 5 day old baby boy that my sister is fostering.  Not good for the ovaries I tell ya.  You should have seen Art's eyes when he was holding him watching the football game.  He kept calling me over and saying "look at him."  He sure was adorable. I think I just might have to put a restraining order on my sister while she's fostering that little lump of love.

But we didn't come here today to talk about cute newborn babies did we?  Let's move on to January spending shall we.  I have found the key to not spending money and it's quite simple.
Step 1: Become so busy at work that at your lunch hour while you sit at your desk, you work and don't browse the internet.
Step 2: On the weekends, fill your time with family activities and/or house projects so that you don't have time to go to the mall or browse the internet.
Easy-peasy right?  If only it was that simple.  

I did make a few purchases last month so let's recap.  Keep in mind that while I am trying to control our spending in all categories of our life including eating out, grocery shopping and household items, I have only put strict budgets on 'luxury' items, that is items that are not deemed necessities. 
Category 1 - Beauty Supplies

Foundation purchased with Groupon I bought in December - FREE!
Nail Polishes - Buy 2 Get 1 Free (3rd was a top coat) - $16
Budget was $40 for miscellaneous beauty supplies - $24 under budget

Category 2 - Home Improvement
Item's for Syd's Room: Wainscoting, baseboards, chair rail, door casings and paint: $285
Budget was $250 so we went over budget by $35

Category 3 - Craft Supplies
 Glitter, heart hole punch, new markers, paper & miscellaneous supplies for kid's: $38
Budget was $40 (readjusted from $20 after I realized kids were running out of some art supplies)

Category 4 - Clothes
Budget: $100 - $100 under budget!

$430 Budget/$339 Actual = 79% to Budget!

I didn't buy a single clothing item for any of us last month and for that I am very proud of myself.  I don't know the last time I have done that, which come to think of it is quite shameful.  But since this project is not to get me down, but to encourage me, I have to focus on how positive of a step that is for me. 

The last day we were in NY I took an hour to browse some Soho shops by myself.  I went into Intermix, J Crew, Anthropologie, Scoop NYC, Muji and I didn't buy a single thing and it was such a good feeling to not want anything.  It was downright liberating.  That's not to say that this will always be the case, but for now it is a step in the right direction.  And you want to know something else?

We got our monthly credit card statement on Saturday and it was the lowest bill we have had in over 5 years!  I am making progress and it is tangible and I can see the fruits of my labors.  But for the first time in my life as an adult, saving money and being more conscious about spending doesn't feel like labor.  I wish I could articulate exactly what is different this time around, but instead of feeling like I'm "sacrificing", it feels I don't know, normal.  It feels great.

Throughout the month I constantly tried to remind myself of the pitfalls I usually fall into:
  • I did in fact use cash and/or my ATM card a lot more, especially when I went to the craft store and Target to buy our usual household items.
  • I planned ahead and made my lists and stuck to those lists
  • We could have done better at the convenience factor, which is why we ended up going over budget on Syd's room.  We bought expensive paint (Benjamin Moore) at the local hardware store where we went to get the baseboard.  They are the only ones that carry 6" baseboards, so while we were there we bought the paint instead of making another trip to Lowe's that day to buy more affordable paint.  We definitely fell into the old rut of "we don't want to make another trip, let's just buy it here", even though paint was twice as much. 
  • I did find one pair of shoes I want for Spring at Bloomingdale's, but they are still full price.  I don't need them yet since it's still not sandal weather, and being the savvy shopper that I am, I know they will go on sale before the weather turns warm.  It's still very much a buyers environment out there in the retail world.
It's January and I have a long way to go, but I'm happy to have started off on such a good foot.  I'm hopeful that the successes of January will help pull me through the next couple of months as we head into spring, because March tends to be a large spending month for me (damn Quicken books do not lie).  I am going to need a whole lot of self control in the next couple of months.  I am also going to need to be realistic though and carefully strategize and plan my spending so that I put my budgeted money to good use. 

To end this post, if you recall, my January service project was organizing the One Warm Coat Drive.  I had a chance to count up all the coats, sweaters and sweatshirts that people so generously donated and we were able to round up just over 200 items to help families in need stay a bit warmer.  200 coats, sweaters and sweatshirts will be passed out to those in need for FREE!  If you want to organize your own coat drive in your city, go here.  I'll be sharing my February service project soon.  I'm really excited about this month as it's a charity I have worked with before.

So did anyone play along and try to control spending habits this past month?  What were your results?  Were there challenges and struggles or did you find it easy to control spending after the holidays?  I'd love to know how your spending habits in January trend because a) I am nosey and b) I am curious.  Please share.  And again, if there's enough interest next month, I think it would be fun and productive to share our successes and struggles through a Linky party.  Those Linkys can be used for more than just DIY and craft projects :)


  1. You are doing an amazing job with your goals! The coat drive is so impressive. Inspiring.

  2. Impressive, Andrea.
    I also tried to curtail spending in January, not as structured as you did, but when our credit card bill came, I was shocked how high it was!
    Then I remembered I'd charged Tucker's wisdom teeth extraction, and then I was pleased at how much I'd cut down. Nothing real concrete, but still progress.

  3. Awesome news about the coats and sweaters!

    And also awesome about the credit card bill. Ours is dwindling every month as well. It's hard work and takes a lot of will power on my part, but will be totally worth it!

  4. nice job! I think a great goal for all this saved money would be a fabulous birthday celebration for you...Art are you out there :)

  5. awesome job! i've been inspired by your project as well and we definitely stayed within our budget this past month!which is rare for us for January! I'm excited to see how it keeps going. I too stuck to my lists, made our meals stretch and the hubs & I brought lunches from home everyday!!! that never happens! i've made 'list of wants' for spring for me & the kiddo and am waiting for the sales to purchase away but its amazing how much better i feel at the end of the month knowing there is still money available "if I want it"!

  6. Yay YOU!!! That's something to be proud of, Girlio. Keep it up! And yes, keep sharing. I love reading this kind of stuff.

  7. i take partial responsibility for your going over budget on Syd's room and the repaint. Great job at not buying one thing in NY at all those stores. You're amazing. And all kidding aside, you're getting in my head when I'm contemplating expenditures, and that's a good thing. My husband thanks you.


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