I know this is Coffee with Kate Kitchen Table Talk but I’m thinking of blogging the whole year of no extra spending. What do you all think of that? It could be fun and inspiring…but to be honest, I’m doing it for me. If I don’t write about it I won’t have to answer to anyone and that means that it won’t last. The first time I have a ten-dollar bill in my wallet I’ll be at the candy store.
I will simply call it a No Spend and take it month by month. Some people have roughed me up for calling it a no spend for a year because, well, you can’t live a whole year on nothing, right? They are right. But you can’t get parsnippity. A no spend is this; you pay for rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries, gas, or commuting money. Some of us have insurance; medical, house, car, life. Then we all have phones; house and/or cells.
And that is it. Nothing outside that unless you have an emergency. Of course, if you have car trouble and you can’t walk to work and around town, you have to fix it…or take the bus…or bike? That will be for you to figure out.
If the house needs work with the plumbing or electric you or the partner try and do it yourself and if that fails and it has to be done, you have to hire help. But what if it’s something that can go for the year and not affect your life too, too much?
As the year goes on you have to take each situation in hand and ask, “can we fix it ourselves, do without, ignore it for the time being, or must it be dealt with?”
Then as time goes on and the thrill of this new game fades and you start feeling bored and want to, say, go out to lunch somewhere, buy a peppermint mocha at the cafe during the Christmas season, or go to the movies one Friday night…what do you do? Give in? It depends on how committed you all are and what the goal is. Eye on the prize people, eye on the prize. It ain’t easy.
Some people that have done no spend years set aside little clauses such as books or travel or going out to dinner. Maybe they go out with clients so they actually need to buy dinner out now and then or they travel for work or build their library for work or a passion and they aren’t wanting to compromise. There are some things we may not be able to do without for a whole year and it will behoove you to consider it and write it into the deal so you don’t create suffering that will turn on you.
We love the library and order piles of books each week. I don’t need to buy new books. We have beautiful trails all over the place. We can exercise and have playdates, get out of the house, and have fun in nature as a family and with friends and all for free. We can have picnics anywhere. I have learned to recreate a lot of our favorite restaurant foods such as simple Chinese foods, vegan burgers and fries, pizza, milkshakes. There was a channel Brothers Green Eats (now it’s Pro Home Cooks) and the brothers showed how to make Chinese take out, Wendy’s, and all sorts of fast food right at home. I like to veganize it all.
But there is the issue of the boys needing clothes, new shoes, maybe a raincoat, I know the rain boots are going to be too small next winter, and Christmas toys. So, for now I know I need a clothing fund and Christmas fund for the children. As for holiday meals, that will be included in the groceries. If you have a budget each month for groceries…a grocery envelope is smart to stay on track, you just try and spend less for some months to save extra for Thanksgiving and Christmas. You also learn to shop the sales before or after the holidays to prepare for the next season if you have a pantry and/or freezer chest.
Bali and I have plenty of clothes and shoes. I will just improve on getting stains out and I’ve already ordered easy to thread needles so I can mend holes. There are even fun patches you can iron on to cover holes on pants and such.
Now, when planning to do a huge no spend for a long period of time, and a year is a looong period of time, you have to prepare for it. Some will laugh at this and tisk and shake their heads. Yes, for some of you a no spend starts right where you are with what you have. You may be in dire straights and this is an emergency. There are no funds to “prepare” to not spend.
We have been changing over to sustainable items for years. I have reusable straws, menstrual pads, cloth diapers if I foster babies. My cleaning stuff is all washable like the steam mop, my cleaning rags, vacuum with a canister I can dump and no need for vacuum bags, cloth dish rags instead of sponges that get stale within days. I have piles of cloth towels and napkins. I never use paper anything. I use real plates and eating ware when I throw parties, I haven’t purchased paper plates or plastic utensils in years.
My sewing machine is out now and I have a sewing table set up in the living room. We have art supplies galore. I have fabric for patching linens and such. I have some yarn to make scarves and blankets. I may need more yarn and I will call that a necessity but must find cheap yarn on Craigslist or on a super huge sale. Some things that aren’t really necessary but we do as hobbies and can be used as well can be written in but must be found at enormous discounts.
You can write up your No Spend anyway you like but prepare for it and write it up so you and the family are clear. Decided how long and how to create it to be doable. Too extreme anything fails fast.
You can even say that once a week on Saturdays you all go to breakfast at your favorite diner or you save for one trip out of town in the Summer.
Right now Bali is repairing all our furniture and just rebuilt a new to us bed from the thrift store. It was a California King and too long and missing slats and legs. He rebuilt it and now I finally have a bed off the floor after 5 years of sleeping ON the floor.
He repaired the broken parts under our hand me down couch and parts of a shelving unit we tore out of the water closet that is now a second bathroom. It looked old and I loved it so he saved it for me.
You can find a lot of free stuff on Craigslist, on the side of the road, and there are all these new things on FaceBook for neighborhood sharing. I deleted FB a long time ago but those of you who have it, check it out.
Find ways to trade and barter. I just bartered seeds for homemade face mask.
Then start looking at ways to reduce cost, rent, gas, groceries. Start cutting out things you can replace with free things; gym membership for walking. Cable for Roku. I used to pay $160 for a gym membership but it was so fantastic and we didn’t live in an area were we could enjoy a lot of hiking. Now we live in the forest so we have no membership and hike and walk everywhere. I got rid of cable and then Netflix. We purchased a cheap Roku TV and I can’t believe the movies and channels I get for free.
Our mortgage is about the same as a two bedroom apartment over here. I’ve stripped down the budget to just the “essentials” (new word for this age, right?). Now I am looking at ways to increase abundance. How can I now bring in needs and luxuries with little cost and how can I increase our earnings?
Gardening and planting fruit and berry trees brings us free organics at some point. My writing of books, this blog and my YT channel brings in some royalties.
Walking instead of driving saves on gas. Cooking and creating foods from scratch and buying in bulk saves grocery money.
I just made plans with friends to walk and picnic in the forest for Memorial Day. No Spend. We have one of the Godmothers coming for a few days after that. I will cook up a storm and we will walk, bake, garden. No Spend visit.
Have fun with it and take it month by month if a year is too long.