We kicked off this year with a goal to buy nothing new. We’re now through our second month and it’s accountability time. Here’s a look at our finances for the month, our progress on the nothing new year goal, and how we’re doing on paying off our mortgage by 2020.

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 $5,812.15

After spending just $3,500 in January, we really jumped up this month, getting to a total of $5,812.15.

Did we fail? Is this a sign of our financial apocalypse?


A big chunk of this was us doing one of our favorite things - road tripping! We had an 8-day trip from home in Madison, Wisconsin to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Hilton Head Island is one of my parents’ favorite places to visit and we had never been. When they told us they’d be down there for 6 weeks this winter, we knew it would be a great chance to check it out and spend some extra time with my family.

Despite all five of us catching a cold, we had a great time on the trip. We got three days on the beach, lots of time exploring the island with my parents, and we knocked three more states off our list (we’re up to 31 now). As always, there were challenges, but it was a great experience - lots of memories!

Our three kids at the beach

All three of our girls loved the beach, but you can tell which one was pretty much born to be there...

Back to the finances, here’s our breakdown this month by category:

Category Amount Notes
Charity $600.00 We continued with our standard monthly giving for 2017. Half to our church and half to The Hope Effect
Clothing $202.68 This was a big spend month for clothes. Three pairs of used pants for the kids, new pajamas and a pair of socks for my wife, and my first pair of new shoes in three years.
Eating Out $231.99 We’re down from last month, but primarily because we categorize any food spending on road trips under Travel
Entertainment $169.40 A category we usually spend very little in showed up big this month. Why? I’m finally following through on a 12-year-old promise to take take my wife to a concert :) We bought tickets to see The Chainsmokers in Madison in April
Fitness $495.00 After several months without a gym membership, we’re back in. Without the membership, exercise hadn’t been making it on the schedule. We paid for a full year up front, hence the large number.
Gifts $55.89 My wife’s sister is due this month - gifts for the first of two baby showers
Groceries $579.70 Similar to Eating Out, we are down this month from last but a whole week’s worth of our eating is under Travel
Healthcare $254.72 Healthcare premiums and an office visit
Hobbies $234.50 Gymnastics fees
Home Updates $681.53 Kitchen island and two stools that arrived today. After finishing putting them together, I’m christening them by writing this blog post sitting on a stool at the island :)
Household Care $143.22 A fairly typical month: pull-ups, dish soap, bandaids, two sharpies, salt for the water softener, shampoo, conditioner, floss, cocoa powder (my wife uses this for blush), hair gel, and bars of soap for our laundry detergent
Services $33.28 Life insurance through my work and a haircut for me on February 12th. According to Thrifty, the last time I got a haircut before this was November 12th. Holy cow - that’s three whole months. I might have been a bit shaggy in February…
Shelter $195.37 The only expense in here is for our mortgage interest. Every month this drops by about $4 as more of our payment goes to principal - it’s a beautiful thing to watch :) We don’t log our principal payments as an expense since we consider them to be net-worth-building payments.
Thrifty $11.52 Hosting fees and source code storage for Thrifty
Transportation $736.26 Two tanks of gas, a renewal of my driver’s license and the doozy - $620 in new tires
Travel $1027.34 All told, the trip was actually $1536.34; we had paid for our villa in Hilton Head back in August when we booked through AirBnB. This includes food, hotel, gas, groceries, laundry, activities, and - oh yeah - coffee and ice cream.
Utilities $162.75 Gas, electric, and internet
Total $5,812.15 (without home updates: $5130.62)

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

So, how did we do?

We really took advantage of the exceptions list this month :) (Tweet this )

At the start of February, my shoes were about as bald as our tires and there was no way we were making a 2300-mile road trip without replacing both. You may disagree, but we strongly feel that holes defeat the purpose of socks and pajamas. The money we put in to our remodeling is something we’ll re-capture when we put our house on the market and sell.

Our exceptions this month total almost $1,500. That said, we put them on the exception list for a reason - we knew they were coming. Because of this, we’re still on track with “nothing new” after our second full month.

We’re feeling good about our progress, but we know there’s a long ways to go - a lot can happen in ten months!

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 March 1 payment:

Mortgage payoff progress: outstanding principal is down to $81,436.61 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

We’re sticking with the same payment at the moment, so no changes to our projected date or interest savings. That said, between our standard payment and our additional prepayment this month, we knocked another $1909 off our outstanding principal!

We’re on track to pay off our mortgage on August 1, 2020 - 8 months behind our big, audacious 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.

Two Down, Ten to Go

It was an exciting month - a road trip, my birthday, and lots of fun projects. We’re two months in on our challenge and going strong. Thanks for following along as we try to pull this thing off. March will be a big month for us - we’ve got tile getting installed in four different areas in our house! Looking forward to sharing next month’s update with pictures of our remodeling progress.

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 Three Update.

Was February a good month for you? Between Valentine’s day and the weather, it can be an easy month to slip on your goals. If you made it through, what helped you get there?