We kicked off this year with a goal to buy nothing new. Time flies when you’re having fun - January is already over so it’s time to give our first monthly update on how we’re doing in our Nothing New Year Challenge for 2017.

By buying nothing new, we hope to reduce our impact on our bank accounts and the environment. Let’s start with an overview of our spending for this month.

Spending Overview

Here’s a snapshot of our spending summary from Thrifty:

Overall spending $3,516.06

Managing our spending this month was a success - we spent $750 less than we did in January 2016! Despite some non-regular expenses (tax filing, life insurance), we still ended up with our second-lowest month in the 18 months we’ve been tracking our spending!

That’s not to say there’s not room for improvement though. By category, here’s our breakdown:

Category Amount Notes
Charity $605.00 We bumped up our monthly amount this year to $600 and also gave $5 to support a local youth group
Eating Out $352.23 This number is significantly higher than we’d normally like. I bought lunch at work 9 days this month - my goal in any month is zero. We also bought lunch or dinner as carry-out 12 times versus our goal this month of five. Definitely an area to work on!
Gifts $49.67 We celebrated my wife’s birthday by going bowling as a family, which was most of this. In addition, our daughter bought some art supplies for a classmate’s birthday party and we purchased candy in prep for the kids’ Valentine’s day parties
Groceries $796.60 We’re definitely working this down - we spent over $1000 in January last year for groceries. We’ve been buying a lot more from the bulk bins and making recipes from scratch.
Healthcare $245.01 Healthcare premiums, children’s ibuprofen (we had kids with fevers over 103 twice this month), and vitamin D. It’s tough to get vitamin D from sun exposure when it’s January in Wisconsin. We also had a near-record breaking streak of 12 days of full clouds this month.
Hobbies $259.27 Gymnastics fees are most of this. The only other things we bought were a couple coloring books and new colored pencils for the kids. We have a lot of coloring in this house :)
Home Updates $58.39 Door hinges, outlets, light switches (and panels), and painters tape. We’re still chipping away on remodeling and hit a big milestone this month - all our doors have now been painted and re-hung!
Household Care $196.08 The regulars: pull-ups, toilet paper, wipes, dish soap, vinegar, shampoo, deodorant, laundry soap, facial soap, washing soda. Only one major outlier this month - $60 on carbon monoxide detectors. Our old ones were expired and needed to be replaced
Services $219.88 In most months, this is just life insurance through my work, but this month we also paid to file our taxes and for my wife’s life insurance policy for the full year (not through my work)
Shelter $199.72 The only expense in here is for our mortgage interest. We don’t log our principal payments as an expense since we consider them to be net-worth-building payments
Thrifty $21.00 Hosting fees and source code storage for Thrifty
Transportation $163.04 This isn’t too shabby for a family of five surviving on one car in the suburbs. We had to fill up our minivan four times this month and pay $2 for parking when we brought one of our daughters in for an after-hours doctor visit.
Utilities $350.17 Gas, electric, internet, water, and sewer service.
Total $3,516.06 (without home updates: $3457.67)

Financially, we did well this month. But the real question is, did we buy anything new?

Did We Buy Anything New?

When we kicked off the year, we defined our boundaries.

Used, refurbished, reclaimed, are all fair game, but “new” is to be avoided wherever possible.

Food and household consumable items (baking soda & vinegar for cleaning, soap, art supplies, etc.) are allowed new for obvious reasons.

Other than this, we only have a short list of exceptions we allow:

  • Underwear
  • Socks and shoes
  • Photo prints (school pictures and for our road trip map)
  • Stainless steel baking sheet (though we’ll look for used options if we can find them)
  • Car maintenance parts (we know we need new tires next year)
  • Home remodeling

Looking through the list above, I feel like we’ve stayed true to our definition of “nothing new” in every purchase with one in the gray zone: the carbon monoxide detectors.

If this was one I had anticipated at the beginning of the year, I would have included it in our exception list. I even went to the point of looking to see if used carbon monoxide detectors were even a thing, but expectedly these items fall on the same “don’t buy used” list as baby car seats.

Given the safety aspect for our family, I’m calling this one fair game. Let the nothing new year continue!

Mortgage Payoff Update

Along with our nothing new year challenge, we’re still working hard on paying down our mortgage. Here’s the update chart for where we’re at after our Feb 1 payment:

Mortgage payoff progress: outstanding principal is down to $83,345.61 and we're due to pay off by Aug 1, 2020. By prepaying and refinancing, we are saving $161,693.48 and 17.1 years over original mortgage plan.

Each line represents a different mortgage path we've been on over our mortgage payment journey

Between our standard payment and our additional prepayment this month, we knocked another $1904 off our outstanding principal!

We’re still on track to pay off our mortgage on August 1, 2020 - 8 months behind our goal. We still plan to put any of my raises toward our mortgage and to prepay with any “extra” money after we meet our core yearly goals each year, so I’m optimistic we’ll actually be 100% debt-free before 2020.

One Down, Eleven to Go

That’s one in the books, friends. I think we’re off to a good start so far this year but goals are usually easy to maintain when you’re first getting started. As we get further in this year, we’ll probably find some bigger challenges in sticking to our nothing new year. Hopefully these monthly updates will help keep us accountable and on-track!

Check Out All the Updates

We’ve reached the end of our Nothing New Year Challenge. It’s been a wild ride and our life has drastically changed this year. Be sure to check out our Nothing New Year Wrap Up to see how we did.

Otherwise, if you want to read through the month-by-month updates, continue on to our Nothing New Year Month Two Update.

How are you doing on your new year’s resolutions so far? Sticking to the plan or have you shifted gears already?