It’s October and our spending is FALLing! Ok, yeah, that was a terrible joke, but I couldn’t help it :) After a few months of craziness - selling our house, going on a road trip, buying land - we’re finally getting back to a more normal life. Our kids were all in school this month and Jaime and I got a lot done on our respective projects and have started working on some fun things together. Let’s take a look at our spending this month and see how we did in our quest to buy nothing new.

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 September 2017:

Overall spending $4833.76

Overall, this is a pretty good reflection of what we’d expect a typical month to look like in our apartment-living lifestyle. There were, like usual, a few things that were “one-offs”, but as we’ve learned in budgeting - there are always one-offs.

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

Category Amount Notes
Charity $100.00 We continued our regular contributions to our church and to The Hope Effect, one of our favorite charities.
Childcare $25.00 We started bible study at our church this month and paid a sitter to watch the kids while we were there
Clothing/Shoes $391.85 We live in Wisconsin and winter is coming. Time to restock on some cold-weather clothes we’ve worn through. We got everything used from ThredUp.com except the underwear, which is on our exception list. I’m still not ready to buy used underwear. Included in this month’s purchases were 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of sweatpants, 3 dresses, 5 shirts, 1 cardigan, 1 blouse, and 3 pairs of undies.
Date Night $86.00 We only had one date night this month (we normally plan two). As a result, we overshot our “per date” budget but were well within our monthly target. We also pulled an epic Mustachian move and walked to the restaurant and back. We loved it and plan to do this going forward!
Eating Out $108.77 Youch. We are quickly burning through our Eating Out budget for the year and we can blame ice cream and beer for most of this. No, not those two together - that’s disgusting. About half of our spending here went to something we really loved - having friends over for dinner. We’d like to keep that half and drastically cut the rest :)
Education $33.00 As a part of this mini-retirement year, we’re trying to be more active with our kids’ school. Both Jaime and I are going to a dairy farm with the twins this month as field trip chaperones and have to pay for our tickets. In addition, we gave money to the school for a fundraising event.
Entertainment $64.17 We are working on spending more time as a family actively engaged with each other. Jaime bought 4 NEW card games and a puzzle for us to use as a family. We also bought Halloween costumes for the girls from Goodwill (3 costumes for $24!) and I took the girls to the pool one Saturday this month for an afternoon of swimming.
Fitness $0.00 Our gym membership is prepaid, so no ongoing expense this month
Gifts & Celebrations $47.22 We got a birthday card for Jaime’s grandmother, a birthday gift for one of our daughter’s friends, a get well gift for another of our daughter’s friends who was in the hospital, and a NEW car sticker for our minivan to broadcast our love of our favorite state park.
Groceries $926.27 Our target is $200 a week and we had four-and-a-half weeks worth of groceries this month, so we were almost exactly on budget.
Healthcare $512.65 Health insurance, dental cleanings for 4 of us, a prescription, and two office visits.
Hobbies $473.13 We bought a couple coloring books and some stickers to fill out our Road Trip Memory Map with our two 2017 trips. In addition, we enrolled two of our kids in after-school Spanish courses. In general, we have a “one activity at a time” rule for our kids, and this will keep them busy for the next 5 months. It’s expensive ($225 each), but foreign language skills are something we’re excited to support!
Home Updates $0.00 That’s what happens when you don’t own a home. Our landlord had the pleasure of replacing the garage door opener for our unit this month. That’s a couple hundred dollars we’re happy not to spend!
Household Care $226.46 You’ll see the usual suspects here: dish soap, toilet paper, nighttime pull-ups, toothpaste, paper plates (for when we host guests), shampoo, cotton wipes, hand soap, toilet bowl cleaner, laundry detergent, bathroom cleaner, apple cider vinegar (to catch those pesky fruit flies), face wash, face wipes, and baking soda and vinegar for unclogging drains and general cleaning. In addition, we purchased NEW reusable snack bags so we wouldn’t be throwing out Ziploc bags every school day.
Pizza & Movie Night $158.97 We love this family tradition, but look at that price tag! This was for five pizza nights, but still. Going forward, we’re going to try something different - getting frozen pizzas and ice cream from the grocery store for most weeks and then ordering out once a month. We’ll see how this helps in October!
Services $41.44 Life insurance, getting our road trip pictures printed, printing a return label for some of the used clothes we bought that didn’t fit, and the cashier’s check fee from our bank for our land purchase.
Shelter $1205.00 Rent and $230 of closing costs for our land purchase.
Thrifty $46.00 Hosting fees and source code storage for Thrifty this month plus support for other creators on Patreon. In addition, I donated to a Hurricane Harvey family I learned of through my blogging network.
Transportation $85.35 With my mini-retirement and the school year in full swing, we only had to fill the tank twice this month for normal trips (see below for details on the wedding we attended). We’ve been doing a ton more walking and biking. According to my phone, I did 91 miles of walking in September and 11.5 miles of biking!
Travel $255.02 Jaime’s cousin got married in Michigan this month, so we had the price of the trip out there (food, gas, and an overnight stay at a hotel). The wedding was a blast and we got some good brainstorming time in the car for what the year ahead can look like.
Utilities $47.46 Just internet this month. We still have a gas and electric credit due to us from our transition to the apartment. As a result, our gas and electric this month were $0.
Total $4833.76  

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

This month, we bought 9 new items: four card games, a puzzle, a car sticker, and three reusable snack bags this month.

As my wife Jaime says, the point of the nothing new year is to buy with intention.

  • The card games and puzzle were for our family to spend active time together instead of the kids plunking down in front of the TV with movies from the library. We stashed our TV in the closet for 7 straight days this month and we spent tons of time playing Old Maid, Crazy 8’s and Go Fish.
  • The reusable snack bags were to prevent us from the financial and environmental cost of 540 Ziploc bags this year - the amount we’d go through for school day snack packaging for our kids. This purchase was well in alignment with our values and finances.
  • The car sticker purchase was on a whim, but the $3.95 sticker gives us a chance to broadcast our support for Devil’s Lake State Park - one of Wisconsin’s treasures. We’ve been numerous times over the last few years and fall more in love with this park every time we go.

The first two were absolutely in alignment with our values. The last one was a spur-of-the-moment purchase, but certainly isn’t going to delay my financial freedom date by any significant amount.

Through the first nine months of the year, we’ve purchased thirty-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
  • In month six, we purchased a stuffed animal, recycled plastic food storage containers, and car games for our road trip
  • In month seven, we purchased four new dresses, four accessories, a pair of sunglasses, shorts, a shirt, replacement sand toys for our beach time on our road trip, and replacement ice packs.
  • In month eight, we purchased four new outfits and three toys
  • In month nine, we purchased four card games, one puzzle, one car sticker, and three reusable snack bags

We’re certainly not at zero, but we also are kicking butt compared to last year. From January through September of last year, we had purchased 105 items!

All the Fun Projects

With all of our kids in school full-time this month, Jaime and I had lots of time to work on projects we’re excited about. I’ve been hard at work writing and recording audio for this site and developing new features for Thrifty. Jaime’s been writing for her blog and is going to start helping me on the marketing side for all things Keep Thrifty.

In addition, we recorded and edited the first episode for our upcoming YouTube channel, Our Thrifty Life.

In a few short weeks, you’ll start to see videos showing up here and you’ll be able to find our channel on YouTube. I don’t want to be overconfident, this is how I’m picturing you on the day we launch:

Kids looking at computer screen cheering

Stay tuned for more details!

We’re going to try to be an open book in Our Thrifty Life. What questions about our life would you like us to answer? Want to hear more about floor sleeping? Minimalism with kids? How Jaime stands me being home 24/7? Let us know what you’d like to hear more about in the comments below!