We kicked off this year with a goal to buy nothing new. Last month, we made a big decision - to finish up our home updates and put our house on the market. This month, we worked on getting our remodeling done while also celebrating our twins’ birthday. It was a crazy busy month!

Here’s a look at our finances for the month, our progress on the nothing new year goal, and our progress on paying off our last debt - our mortgage.

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 $9,207.99

This was another high month, mostly due to home updates as we finish everything up so we can list it. All told, this month cost us $9.207.99.

It was a pricey month, but we’ve finished everything we planned to do before putting our house on the market!

We’ve found a couple apartments in our town and are looking to rent for the next year while we figure out our next steps.

Here’s a detailed category-by-category look at how we spent this month:

Category Amount Notes
Charity $100.00 With trying to finish off our remodeling, we scaled back charity this month. For what we did give, we stuck with half to our church and half to The Hope Effect
Childcare $30.00 One regular date night this month which required babysitting. Our other date night was cancelled due to one of our kids getting sick. We’ll pick up in May :)
Clothing/Shoes $6.50 I got a used button-down Lands End shirt. Finding resale mens clothing online has been tough, but Swap had a pretty good selection. They’ve also got kids clothes, women’s, and even toys.
Eating Out $578.05 Youch! With all the house updates this month, we got firmly stuck in the “convenience” trap of buying prepared food. Once we’re settled in our new place I expect this to get back under control.
Education $3.00 Fee for my wife to help out on a school field trip
Entertainment $0.00 We binge watched the Tiny House Nation episodes we bought last month. No purchases this month.
Fitness $0.00  
Gifts $193.60 We had a birthday party that we attended this month, plus Easter gifts for our kids and birthday gifts for our twins who just turned 5. But uh oh, we slipped up and bought new!
Groceries $830.75 We’re still doing better on groceries than this time last year but with how much we ate out this month, I would have hoped we would have been better.
Healthcare $219.60 Man it’s nice to be back to normal here. Just premiums this month.
Hobbies $295.86 Gymnastics fees and bubbles. In addition, a batgirl costume for our oldest daughter and an Elsa wig for one of the twins. Also, we went to a local pottery shop and everyone painted pottery.
Home Updates $4,662.38 Another big month here trying to get our remodeling wrapped up. This included light fixtures, paint, door knobs, floor registers, varnish and a brush, mulch, wood putty, caulk, and bathroom mirrors. Also included paying our plumber for moving some water and sewer lines in the bathrooms and our general contractor for all the work he did (windows, flooring transitions, shoe molding, drywall).
Household Care $155.10 Soap, toilet paper, toothpaste, face lotion, ant poison, pull-ups, conditioner, shampoo, deodorant, bandaids, and vinegar. Also, we had one new item this month - a replacement power adapter for my wife’s laptop.
Services $15.28 Life insurance through my work
Shelter $186.63 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 $1,289.50 Two big things here this month. (1) I bought a ticket (and paid for a flight) to FinCon - a conference for personal finance peeps. I didn’t make it last year so I’m excited to finally get there. (2) I bought a used 13” MacBook Air. The rest of the spend this month was my normal hosting fees and source code storage for Thrifty.
Transportation $167.80 Four tanks of gas
Travel $0.00  
Utilities $473.94 Water/Sewer, Gas, electric, and internet. We accidentally submitted our gas and electric bill twice this month, so next month should be a lot lower :)
Total $9,207.99 (without home updates: $4,545.61)

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 failed not once, but twice this month by buying new.

  • The power cord for my wife’s laptop frayed to the point that it was no longer functioning so we finally caved and got a replacement.
  • Our twins turned 5 this month, which is incredibly exciting and mind-boggling (man, time flies). For gifts, we wanted to focus a bit more on the creative side so we got one of the girls a 3-month subscription to Kiwi Crate and the other a costume/experience box from My Pretend Place.

The power cord became a tough trade-off between buying used from Apple for mucho dinero (more than $70) or a new knock-off version from Amazon for $20. This is one of those cases where we had to make the trade-off call and I just couldn’t bring myself to spend 3.5 times the cost.

One of the birthday gifts (from Kiwi Crate) was craft supplies, so that actually falls in the exceptions list, but the other ended up being a costume with some accessories. When we ordered it, we were thinking “experience” but it really did turn out to be stuff.

Neither the power cord nor the costumer were on the exception list. As a result, I’m obligated to declare that we failed at our goal of buying nothing new this year (Tweet this )

It’s OK Billy Madison. It’s all going to be OK…

Despite our failures, I’ve learned that persistence and patience are everything so we’re not going to just give up altogether and start buying new stuff tomorrow.

What’s the best thing you can do when you screw up a goal? Get back to it the next morning. We’re going to try to go the rest of the year without going outside the exception list :)

Mortgage Payoff Update

As I explained last month, we’ve shifted to the super-accelerated version of becoming debt-free: we’re selling our house :)

We’ve been working with an agent to get the house listed and are wrapping up our last updates and getting the listing put together.

In the meantime, we’ve still got our mortgage payments to take care of, so here’s the update chart for where we’re at after our May 1 payment:

Mortgage payoff progress: outstanding principal is down to $79,935.05 and we're due to pay off by Aug 1, 2017. By prepaying and refinancing, we are saving $164,734.72 and 20.1 years over original mortgage plan.

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

With our standard payment this month, we knocked another $751 off our outstanding principal and are now under $80,000 remaining!

Considering we started at $175,900 10 years ago, we’re not doing too badly :)

Presuming we are able to list and sell our house this summer, we’re anticipating being completely debt free in August. From there, our plan will be to rent while we figure out our next steps. If we do purchase a home in the future, our plan would be to do so with cash.

Four Down, Eight to Go

Well, we stumbled a bit this month with our $23 power cord and a $50 birthday present, but we’re not going to let that get the best of us. We’ll get back on track and keep pushing forward.

What I’m really excited for is to see how our finances change once we’re finally out of our house and in a rental. Without all the maintenance and updates, I anticipate things will be a whole lot more steady :)

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 Five Update.

Are you still on-track with the resolutions you made for this year? How have you gotten back on track when you fail a goal?