Nothing New Year: Month 5 Update - Keep Thrifty

Nothing New Year: Month 5 Update

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It’s been another interesting month in our pursuit of making it through the year without buying anything new. To say that we have a lot going on is an understatement, but we’re still doing our best to keep on-track :)

This month, we:

  • listed our house for sale
  • had a dozen showings and an open house
  • received two offers and accepted one
  • held the home inspection and the appraisal
  • toured smaller apartments in our area and signed a lease

We’re moving into our apartment on July 1st and are on-track to close the sale of our house on July 5th!

Whew…we’re excited and exhausted

With all of that, let’s take 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

We track our spending using a little tool I made called Thrifty. It’s free and you can use it on any device with an internet connection and a web browser. I really recommend you check it out.

Here’s our spending summary from Thrifty for May 2017:

Overall spending $5,528.62

Our spending is finally starting to come back down as we’ve finished up our major remodeling. All told, this month cost us $5,528.62.

We definitely overspent in some categories and we did break the threshold of buying new items (two this month). You can find all the nitty-gritty details and a full confession below :)

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

Category Amount Notes
Charity $50.00 We’ve scaled back on our charitable giving until our financial situation settles a bit. The full amount this month went to The Hope Effect, one of our favorite charities. We missed giving our check to our church this month, so we’ll double up our giving next month.
Childcare $55.00 We had a really fun date night this month. In addition, we got a free date weekend thanks to my wife’s parents. Both gave us some much needed recuperation time from the crazy month.
Clothing/Shoes $375.87 Big clothing month this month. Replacement sneakers for my wife and one of our twins, a pair of jeans for me from Goodwill, socks for the kids, a sports bra and one new item for my wife: a dress/cover-up
Eating Out $545.45 From the time our house was listed, we were essentially booted out of our house for a full week without the luxury of cooking at home. This drove a lot of eating out and a high total for the month. We should see this come back down in June and especially once we’re settled in the apartment in July.
Education $35.00 Summer school enrollment for all three kids. Isn’t public education nice? :)
Entertainment $62.75 Tickets to see the The Minimalists’ #LessIsNow tour in Madison on our date night. We had an awesome time - I really recommend you check the show out if they are coming your way. In addition, we rented three movies during our extended date weekend.
Fitness $0.00  
Gifts $405.90 We finally booked our big birthday present to our twins - an overnight stay at a waterpark. In addition, we got a used toy from Swap.com. We bought gifts for 2 birthday parties our kids attended and for our nephew’s baptism.
Groceries $999.18 A high month this month, partially due to timing (we bought groceries both right when the month started as well as on the 30th) but also due to the general volatility in our home life with listing and selling the house. We purchased a lot more snack/convenience food than we’d normally like.
Healthcare $454.65 Normal spending on premiums this month and paying for prior month office visits.
Hobbies $278.37 Gymnastics fees and art supplies.
Home Updates $0.00 Wow. In the 22 months we’ve been tracking our spending using Thrifty, this is the first time this number has been zero. Seeing that number feels really good
Household Care $242.37 Toilet paper, nighttime pull-ups, blush, sunscreen, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, hair de-tangler, hand soap, dish soap, toothpaste, tinfoil, and something new: stainless steel straws
Services $15.28 Life insurance through my work
Shelter $1,301.91 As we move from home ownership into renting, this number is going to change drastically. This month, we paid our security deposit (1 month’s rent), our mortgage interest, and we had to stay in a hotel one night this month to keep our house in a “showable” state for the open house. We don’t log our principal payments as an expense since we consider them to be net-worth-building payments.
Thrifty $428.00 In addition to my normal hosting fees and source code storage for Thrifty, I booked an Airbnb for FinCon - a personal finance conference for personal finance peeps.
Transportation $167.80 Five tanks of gas and one Uber ride home from work when my wife was feeling too sick to come pick me up. I’m happy to report that we’re still making it work as a one-car family in the suburbs :)
Travel $0.00  
Utilities $62.75 Gas, electric, and internet. We had accidentally submitted our gas and electric bill twice last month, so this month was a lot lower.
Total $5,528.62  

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?

While we’ve been pretty good this year at minimizing new purchases, we had two that crept up this month.

  • Stainless steel straws. Our kids had some plastic straws they had gotten as party favors that just got downright gross since they were so hard to clean. As a result, we had to toss them and decided to replace them with a more eco-friendly option (because these straws should last a lifetime).
  • My wife bought one new dress for daily wear. We’ve been much more disciplined about clothing spending this year ($101/month through April of this year vs vs $223/month average for last year). The $80 dress she bought has already gotten a ton of use and it doubles as a cover-up for swimming.

Once again, there are reasons for the purchases but I want to be accountable to you, so you’ll get to see them all here.

Through the first five months of the year, we’ve purchased five things new that weren’t on the exception list:

  • In month one, we purchased replacement carbon monoxide detectors
  • In month four, we purchased a replacement power cord for my wife’s laptop and a costume for one of our kids as a birthday present
  • In month five, we purchased stainless steel straws and a dress/cover-up

What can I say? This challenge is tough :)

While we haven’t hit the goal every month, I do feel like we’re purchasing a lot fewer new items this year. By way of comparison, I looked at our spending from January through May of last year and we had purchased 40 new items thus far!

We’ll keep doing our best as the year goes on and I’ll keep a tally of any new items we add.

Mortgage Payoff Update

With our planned closing date of July 5th, we officially know our debt-free date!

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 June 1 payment:

Mortgage payoff progress: outstanding principal is down to $79,181.68 and we're due to pay off on July 5, 2017. By prepaying and refinancing, we are saving $164,903.73 and 20.2 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 $753 off our outstanding principal and are now at just over $79,000 remaining. Considering we started at $175,900 just ten years ago, we’re not doing too badly :)

Presuming our closing goes through without issue, we will completely debt free as of July 5th, 2017 (Tweet this ) .

We’ve already got our rental set up and we’ll use our time in the rental to figure out our next steps. If we do purchase a home in the future, our plan would be to do so with cash.

Five Down, Seven to Go

While we did buy two new items this month, I’m still really proud of the progress we’ve made through this challenge.

Next month’s update will be a fun one as it’ll include our last “regular” mortgage payment. After that, we’ve got our closing and then the party begins :)

Hope your own personal challenges are going well this year!

Even a goal we miss can have a positive impact. Have you had goals you didn’t achieve but still saw great benefits from? What were they and how did they impact you?