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I stop all spending during the month of January. The constant barrage of ads in December makes January my favorite month to do this. I pay the household bills, but everything else goes on hold. I feed the family from the pantry and freezer which helps to do an annual cleaning out of both of those systems.
Just an update on the January spending freeze.
Thank you for all the terrific responses! So far, so good (of course, today is only the 8th!) I have managed to steer clear of my beloved Goodwill and other local thrift and resale shops, have brought my lunch to work each day, and didn't buy any extras at the grocery store.
We are fortunate to have a great library within walking distance, and I joined their Adult Winter Reading Program; after reading seven books, I will be rewarded with a free canvas book tote...score!
I get a little cabin fever this time of year, January can really be a LONG month, so I get outside and walk when it's not terribly cold. Boredom has not been a problem yet, seems I always have plenty to do. I like to sew and haven't had time to do any of that for a while, and I have quite a stash of fabric for when the mood strikes!
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Tomorrow is the first day of my January Spending Freeze, that means no spending other than the essentials: bills, gasoline and groceries. No more McDonald's for lunch, I will bring something from home. No books or CDs, no visits to the antique mall, no fundraisers, no lottery tickets, absolutely no extras for one month. Has anyone done this? If so, I would love to hear from you with your thoughts or advice. Happy New Year to All!
I've done this all my life. I don't have the money to do ANY of the (fun) things you mentioned! But, I do have one word of advice for you: Maybe you can go one month without, but to stay this way, you DO need to always have one little luxury. For us, we like to rent movies, so we pay $20 per month to Netflix to rent as many movies as we want. And if I get a tiny bit of extra money (like for my birthday) I'll buy a bit of cheap fabric with it, or a skein of yard at Walmart. Then I'll turn these into something that's worth a whole lot more.
One time I made a whole suit (that I LOVE) including a jacket, matching pants & even bought new buttons for it, all for less than $4! For inexpensive fun, I can shop for hours on just $10 at my favorite thrift store! What I'm saying is: It doesn't matter how poor you are, you need to have one inexpensive hobby just to stay sane!
Yes, I am trying to do this as well. I listen to Dave Ramsey on AM radio and am motivated to be debt free. I'm have a hard time getting my husband to cut back. I'd like him to take his lunch to work, eat leftovers, etc. but he doesn't. During the summer, we cancelled cable and bought rabbit ears to view local stations only. It was liberating but frustrating too because the channels were infrequent. We signed up for cable last month but fortunately, my husband got a higher paying job at Time Warner Cable. That helps a lot.
I am also doing this as I have so many "things" that should be used before I purchase new. It is hard for me to pass up a bargain--so I am not going to the store except for groceries. I am not reading newspaper sales inserts, no mall walking, etc. I plan on inventorying my craft items to see what I can make that I have forgotten about. I am making it into a game. Good Luck.
I kept a notebook on every penny I spent a long time ago, it was amazing the amount I saved because I didn't want to write down 50 cents for a soda, etc, so I just quit buying little budget breakers. My Dad told me long ago to control your "wanter" and to know the difference between wants and needs. Amazing how cell phones and TV enter our lives as a want and turn into a "need"!!??
I agree about the notebook thing. It get tiresome writing everything down. So I then stopped going to certain stores because I knew my will power would be stretched beyond my limit. I also have had to cut back I started with the bills. What services did I really not need and still be comfortable (cable packages, phone companies, electric uses, storage facilities, riding of debts), then I moved on to the luxuries; eating out (only certain amount of visits to fastfood/restaurants per month).
The last thing that was a major change in cutting back was to buy better groceries and cooking more at home buying in bulk and spending more time in the kitchen (so 50s) but I have saved a tremendous amount of money buying in bulk and putting leftovers into my extra mini freezer. I also have clipping coupons is so cliche but when I did it, saved over 1/2 of my grocery receipt -- that includes working the store ads rain checks was my saving grace.
I would go on the last day of the sale and find all the things that I had wanted to buy gone from the shelves and get rain checks so that I could buy the products at the sale price when I wanted to pay for them (when I had the money). I would be surprised at seeing an extra $100-$200 of free money in my budget that I could apply to the reducing of my debts and past bills.
I live on very little money (under the poverty line). The key is low overhead. No debt, low taxes. I've never found a piece of furniture I'm willing to enslave myself for. I do use credit cards but only when I know I will be able to pay them off in full at the end of the month.
I use the library and thrift stores. I travel to Europe every summer and I see that as a necessity. When I think of spending money, I just remind myself that the money would buy a pub lunch or a night in a Bed and Breakfast.
I stopped spending after 9/11 when one of my businesses died. (Now I make wooden Christmas ornaments for a living.) I find I love it! Buying stuff means you have to store it, clean it...way too much trouble. Also, I found that I was buying clothes that looked just like the clothes I already had...where's the sense in that?
When I'm going out, I don't think about what to wear until just before I have to leave, that way I know I have to find something I already have to wear.
It's a game, but a fun one and one where is isn't all that hard to win...you win when you get what you want without spending.
The trick really is in your attitude. If you see spending as treating yourself well, you're in trouble if you can't spend. But if you see NOT spending as proving how smart and creative you are, you're halfway there.
I used to spend a fortune on books. I was creating my own library. But when I moved into a house too small to display all the bookcases, I donated them to the library, took the tax credit, and now I use the library instead for books.
I think a lot of people waste money on food. Either buying things they will never use and throwing them out when they go bad, not saving or remembering to use leftovers, or on treats for instant gratification. I went through all of my cabinets, refrigerator and freezer and then made up a menu for a couple of weeks, using as much as I could with what I had and only buying what I needed to.
With the help of this website and some of the fabulous idea people post I am saving money on all kinds of cleaning products too which is a huge savings.