[Morning! Here’s a fantastic journey from Allysgrandma who took on a No Spend Year this year and is now going on indefinitely… Amazing how well we can adapt (and save!!!) when we actually focus and get a little creative! Congrats, Allysgrandma! It totally changed my life years ago too :) (Though I was much less brave and only shot for a month, haha…]
We are older (61) and did not handle our money like we should have.
I had to retire early due to chronic pain and my husband is getting very tired and can’t retire for at least 5 years and a few months when he gets full Social Security. We have made every mistake in the book and then some. Never, ever did I consider that I would not be able to work as long as I wanted.
Since “retiring” I try to do as much as I can to take responsibilities off my husband, and while doing kitchen chores I like to watch You Tube videos. Mostly I like watching frugality type videos. I came across Coffee With Kate at some point, and last fall stumbled across her vlog about a No Spend Year.
I’ve done similar challenges in the past with not buying any new clothes or shoes for a full year, but I’ve never done everything at once before. I thought about it for about a minute and decided I would do it. As I remember you make your own rules, but I decided to go completely nuts and not buy ANYTHING we did not need.
What Our No Spend Year Looked Like
The first thing I did was inventory our freezer and pantry, then I decided to do cleaning supplies and personal care products. The second thing I did was talk to my husband, but any discussion about finances makes his eyes glaze over and he becomes grumpy.
I evaluated our spending for 2018 and two things stood out. Our grocery and gift categories seemed ridiculous. I had already done Christmas shopping for 2018, and I realized that my No Spend Year would be over in time for Christmas 2019! I made other gifts, including twin 3 year olds really cute aprons for their birthdays. And I did the same thing for my granddaughters. And since I have a ridiculous amount of fabric as I am a quilter, I made baby quilts for a baby shower for former coworkers also. I’m currently working on a quilt for my 3rd son-in-law. The other two already have theirs.
Grocery Spending Cut Back
For groceries, the plan was to cut spending down from $6,500 in 2018 to a goal of $5,000 for the year. Vowed to not go into a grocery store without a list. I also placed a 6 month moratorium on meat purchases. My husband has never met a meat sale he did not like. He did 99.9% of all food chores before I stopped working, for 35+ years. We have a very full freezer, and in fact have a whole turkey (20 pounder purchased at Costco after Christmas for $5 – he bought 4!) and several other packages of meat in my daughter’s freezer.
Zero Waste Kitchen
I decided to cut back even further a few months ago when I realized we were still throwing too much food out and now attempting a Zero Waste Kitchen (can’t remember where I got that idea (Editor’s Note: Maybe Bea Johnson?)). We stopped menu planning and started using what needs to be eaten each day. We have a vegetable garden and are still harvesting tomatoes from our greenhouse (I live on the coast of very northern California, and we can’t grow tomatoes or peppers without one… Well they will grow, but not ripen).
For instance, in August I made my daughter a lemon cake with lemon frosting from scratch, and then a chocolate with chocolate frosting for my husband in September. I froze the rest of the two frostings and pulled them out a few days ago when my 5 year old granddaughter was over and she wanted to bake cupcakes. Then all I had to do was use half a box mix and those frozen frostings.
We eat the same thing until it’s gone or we are sick of it. We found a New York cut roast that had been in our freezer way too long. It fed us from Sunday-Thursday. I used it in salads and we had fajitas made out of it along with normal roast and potatoes. It did wonders for our No Spend Year.
Batch Cooking, Gardening & Homemade Dog Food
I also have done quite a bit of batch cooking this year. My adult daughters also like me to make them the same! I have 3 dishes I mainly make that were my most used over the years. In addition, I freeze extra soup and chopped onions/bell peppers and anything else I can if I cannot use them before they go bad (Zero Waste Kitchen). Of course, I made jams and have frozen 3 gallons of blueberries.
We make our dog’s food. Lila is an older rescue chihuahua. She does not have many teeth and choked on her kibble one day. We started buying her whole food, but it was so crazy expensive we started making it ourselves. She hit the lottery when we adopted her!
I helped a friend move and she gave me a bunch of clothes including my new favorite jeans! She also gave me 107 hardback books! I pick my oldest granddaughter (11) up on Tuesdays and we go to the library and pick out books. Cheap quality time. We also bake when they visit. The oldest has free rein in my sewing room and the youngest (5) is working on her first project – a doll quilt.
They also love to work in the garden, harvesting, picking berries (strawberries and blueberries) and cleaning the chicken coop!
For meds I get my high blood pressure medication in 20 mg, but only take 10 mg, so I save money cutting them in two myself.
Our health insurance was going up to just under $2,000 in January of 2018, so we dropped it and joined one of those religious based medical sharing plans.
It’s called Liberty Healthshare and we pay $479 a month. My husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer in June 2018. Liberty Healthshare will pay nothing the first year, $50,000 the second year (which we are in) and regular coverage after the second year ends. We have been able to cover all his costs and his medication is working great!
Other Ways We Accomplished Our No Spend Year
I divided up succulents and trimmed back geraniums and have a ton of starts. I will use those as gifts. All three of my grown daughters want succulents. I got a bunch of cuttings from my mom’s audiologist’s office (I asked first) and they really grew. We have chickens for eggs. I give the chickens any half bad vegetables and throw the rest in our revolving compost bins.
We started keeping our aluminum and CRV deposit plastic bottles and glass containers instead of just dumping them into the recycling bin that the local garbage company furnishes for pickup.
I have a 5 gallon bucket in my bathtub that I put the removable head in to catch the water until it heats up. We also dump leftover water into my plants or into that bucket and use it to either fill the toilet tank or to water my plants and flowers.
No Spend Year Challenges
We have had challenges, however.
When we were notified our power would be off for up to a week this fall, we decided to buy a generator because there was the real possibility of losing the meat in our freezer. We had very little warning, and generators were sold out almost immediately. Fortunately, we were lucky to get our vehicles filled up with gas the night the power went out, and we bought a generator that we found 3 hours away. We used it for 4 hours before the power came back on. A week later it was out again for a few days. It felt like a real luxury having power, and we shared with the family next door – alternating plugging in their refrigerator and freezer with ours.
I purchased a new pair of walking shoes when both of my pairs started coming apart at the soles. I’m old, so comfortable shoes are important!
Will We Keep Having No Spend Years?
My No Spend Year is up, but it has become such a way of life that I am continuing indefinitely.
We have paid for the house we are renting for 5 days in Anaheim at Christmas for our 3 daughters, their husbands and our 3 granddaughters. I can’t wait for Disneyland!
The exterior painting of our home was completed yesterday. We also decided to rip up our carpet and refinish the hardwood that was underneath. The floor also was completed yesterday. Those were both hired out and we used our home/car account money.
After we arranged all that to be done, my vehicle stopped recognizing the key. I called my son-in-law, who gifted the car to me after my 2006 Toyota Camry was totaled in a 4 car pile up. It’s currently in the shop. Then our washer stopped draining. The washer was fixed, but the repairman (who has been coming to our house for years) told us to start saving for a new one. It is 10 years old to the month! Luckily the dryer is still working fine.
We have also noticed that our cooktop is emitting a strange smell, so I am calling for the same repairman to come and take a look. I’m a bit concerned that what we thought was a hefty, well funded home/car savings account will be empty before too long!
I’m working to get our spending down even more in 2020. At the same time, I am continuing to spend as much time with my family and support my husband as he continues to run our business.
So many great great tips here…
Anyone else currently doing a No Spend Year/Month?? One of the best things you can do – especially when you’re just starting out!