I have a confession to make. We spent over $6,000 on Black Friday. We’re on the home stretch of our nothing new year challenge. Did we completely lose our senses? Was I shoving other shoppers out of the way at Walmart to get my hands on a “sweet deal”? Read on to see what the heck happened this month.

Spending Overview

We track our spending using a little tool I made called Thrifty. It’s in development right now, so I’m providing it for free. It’s pretty awesome and has helped us get a handle on our finances over the last 2 years. Check it out!

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

Overall spending $10,121.19

If you missed it, you can see our Black Friday spending spree was in the Travel category. We’re still working on hitting all 50 states and decided to take the opportunity during our mini-retirement to hit up Hawaii!

Why pull the trigger now? Put simply, right now we’ve got the time and the finances (though this is outside our planned mini-retirement budget). Once the mini-retirement is over, taking a 2-week vacation will become harder again. Plus, we’re looking forward to getting out of the Wisconsin’s cloudy gray winter skies for a couple weeks.

So that’s our big spending news this month. Let’s dive into to the details of each category:

Category Amount Notes
Charity $150.00 We continued our regular contribution to The Hope Effect, one of our favorite charities. We made a double contribution to our church to make up for missing last month’s.
Childcare $30.00 Outside of date night, we needed a sitter once this month - to watch our kids while we were at bible study
Clothing/Shoes $114.06 On the used side, we got three pairs of pants and one pair of snow pants from Goodwill and Savers. Somehow we seemed to always be short a pair of pants or a shirt for our girls, so Jaime bought each kid two new pairs of pants and two new shirts. In addition, we got socks for the twins, but these are on the exception list.
Date Night $0.00 Between colds, Jaime’s ongoing sciatic nerve issues, and thanksgiving, we didn’t get to go out for a date night this month. That said, Jaime’s leg is finally getting better and we got to go on a short hiking day date at the end of the month. Since the kids were in school, we didn’t have to pay for a sitter and we didn’t spend a dime!
Eating Out $106.30 We use this for treats and convenience dinners. Yowza - this jumped back up. We had take-out three unplanned times this month - all as a way to make life easier while we were navigating the viruses going through our family. Outside of this, we picked up treats from the gas station/grocery store three times this month. When life gets crazy, we go to convenience eating and treats. It’s definitely one of our weaker spots and something we’re still working on.
Education $11.00 This month held two fundraising drives for our kids’ school - a book exchange and a chance to help sponsor a family in need for Christmas.
Entertainment $26.58 We rented one movie from RedBox this month (totally violating the lessons from my Patience is the Ultimate Passive Income post). In addition, I went along to a roller-skating birthday party with our oldest daughter and had to get my own blades. Finally, we spent $15 at the arcade with our kids on one of their days off of school.
Fitness $0.00 We prepaid our gym membership, so nothing this month.
Gifts & Celebrations $10.66 We bought a coloring set for the birthday party and did a thrifty wrapping job. In addition, we got a card for Jaime’s grandmother.
Groceries $730.52 We’re holding our grocery spending down. Our eating out this month offset things a bit, but being in the $700’s two months in a row is an amazing accomplishment. We even tried Aldi this month (and didn’t feel like it was the best fit for us).
Healthcare $598.66 Health insurance premiums and 9 chiropractic visits for Jaime. Thankfully, these visits have been paying off and we’re hoping to bring the frequency down in mid/late December.
Hobbies $58.48 Markers, paper, coloring books. Our kids (and Jaime) do a lot of art!
Home Updates $0.00 The rental life is treating us well here :)
Household Care $368.58 We have three new purchases this month - a hair dryer, a phototherapy lamp, and a set of marbles/jars we’re using to encourage our kids to stop throwing temper tantrums. Beyond this, here are the regulars: q-tips, toilet bowl cleaner, laundry detergent, dish soap, 3 candles, nighttime pull-ups, toilet paper, toothpaste, and makeup.
Kids’ Jobs $0.46 We kicked this off last month and…the kids haven’t asked to do their jobs. The upside is I haven’t had to pay them. The downside is I’m sick of doing dishes :)
Pizza & Movie Night $53.01 We used to spend $25-35 every Friday for pizza and ice cream. Recently, we’ve been buying frozen pizzas or getting “faves” pizzas from Papa Murphy’s - we can feed the whole family for $12.
Services $182.52 Life insurance and a haircut for Jaime.
Shelter $975.00 Rent
Thrifty $23.00 Hosting fees and source code storage for Thrifty this month.
Transportation $188.49 We only used a tank and a half of gas this month! Beyond this, we got an oil change and paid our annual car registration fee.
Travel $6,344.41 Pre-booked flights and lodging for our January trip to Hawaii.
Utilities $149.46 Internet and gas and electric. Fun fact this month - we discovered that two-thirds of our electricity usage comes from a single appliance: our electric water heater. Unfortunately, it’s not our place so we don’t have much of a choice in replacing it :)
Total $10,121.19 Total without Travel: $3,776.78

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

We bought another 15 new items this month - 6 shirts, 6 pairs of pants, a hair dryer, a phototherapy lamp, and a set of marbles and jars (we’re trying a “fill the jar” incentive approach with our kids).

Through eleven months of the year, we’ve purchased sixty-five things new that weren’t on the exception list. We’re far from hitting our goal of zero, but we’ve purchased less than half of the new items we did last year: from January through November of last year, we had purchased 132 new items!

One Month to Go

If I’m honest, I’m excited for this challenge to be over :)

This challenge has been ambitious and tough. It’s had a huge impact on our behavior, but it’s humbling to write a post most months that’s titled “Nothing New Year” but contains a list of the new things we bought.

That said, this challenge has helped us be a lot better about buying less and buying used.

We don’t have a list of new items were anxiously waiting to buy come January and I think we’ve gotten pretty comfortable buying things used - so long as we leave ourselves the time to search through the options.

These posts have been about our nothing new year challenge, but even more, they’ve been spending reports. My hope is that these reports provide you with a reference point of another family trying to align their finances with their values.

With all this in mind, I’ve got a question for you:

Should I continue to publish spending reports once the Nothing New Year challenge is over? Have you found our spending breakdowns interesting and/or useful?