no spend month 2012

It’s been a year since we declared being debt free, and in that time we have had a baby, quadrupled our rented house footage, and have been able to stop scrutinizing and questioning every penny spent. Although we currently have a fully funded emergency fund, we find ourselves running short on cash after furnishing a larger place (our previous cottage was tiny and lovely and fully furnished with built-ins) and paying for all the baby stuff we never thought we would want to have around.

Every year or so Ali and I find ourselves in a place of wanting to break bad habits and re-evaluate our life decisions by putting a freeze on spending activity. This is not difficult for Ali who is the typical dude who will question (for example) why he needs new clothes when the soles are falling off his old shoes. I’m the kind of gal who is like “oh, I’m bored? how about a trip to TARGET?!”

Sooooooo, since late August we have declared a spending freeze on everything except the necessaries (groceries, toiletries, gas, etc) with a nod to the idea that we should be using things up before buying new.

This has been extremely difficult for me! I laughed when I bought the cup of fresh squeezed lemonade from the girls at their family’s yard sale for $0.25, but I didn’t laugh when I spent $200 on furniture. I’m annoyed and freshly aware of how retailers use sales and email coupon codes that expire “tomorrow!” to try to entice impulse purchases with the justification that it “might not go on sale again.”

Action steps: I’m taking a deep breath and stepping back… unsubscribing from email lists and daily deal sites and RSS feeds from those who focus on deals, because it encourages me to want to spend money on something just because it is a good price. Our checking account balance is low enough right now that I risk fees if I use the cards again so that is warning enough to keep the purchases at bay. We’re carrying cash for groceries and stopping to let each transaction hurt a little rather than provide the dopamine rush of swiping the plastic for the magic free money tree.

I don’t really have a lot to say about this yet, but I will admit that I have lost the frugal budgeteer edge I had gained during our project – we are back to old consumption habits and impulse purchases that are impeding our timeline for putting together a down payment on a house (presumably our next big financial move). I don’t mind renting but I would like the option to buy when the time is right.

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