We’re officially halfway through our year-long challenge to buy nothing new! While we’ve had some hiccups, we’re still buying way less new stuff and we’re feeling good about our progress. Our life of craziness continues - over this last weekend, we downsized into our apartment, dropping our living space by a third. On Wednesday, we are due to close on selling our house , which will finally bring us to complete debt freedom.

We’ve got a lot of changes ahead, including one really big one that I’m excited to announce next week. Stay tuned :)

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 June 2017:

Overall spending $4,780.56

After a few big expensive months remodeling our house, our spending came down last month and thankfully has continued to drop this month. Next month we’ll have our “new normal” as we move into the apartment and settle into rent payments and see what life without a mortgage is like :)

In the meantime, here’s a detailed category-by-category look at what we spent this month:

Category Amount Notes
Charity $200.00 We caught up on our church giving after missing our check last month. We continued our contributions to The Hope Effect, one of our favorite charities. We also gave $50 to an environmental cause this month.
Childcare $30.00 Childcare for our one date night this month. We both had a cold but it was still a really fun time.
Clothing/Shoes $307.78 Another big clothing month this month. We got four used dresses for my wife off of ThredUp.com to get her set for summer. In addition, one of our twins needed replacement sneakers and I got a new pair of sandals. My last pair made it 13 years so I’m hoping that this pair can repeat that to justify the bigger price tag :)
Eating Out $409.24 This is still higher than I’d like, but at least has dropped from our last couple of months. The spending in here that I feel good about was for our family movie nights (we get pizza and ice cream), having friends over for dinner, our date night, and buying lunch for a co-worker that I’m mentoring. The treats and extra times buying take-out for convenience? Not so much.
Education $0.00  
Entertainment $21.58 We purchased a lifetime subscription to Simplify Magazine, a quarterly digital publication from some of our favorite voices on the web. At $20, the subscription is well worth it. In addition, we rented one movie from Redbox for family movie night.
Fitness $454.00 We purchased a summer membership at our favorite area gym, which has a small waterpark and a daycare. This is a big part of our Summer Fun (and Sanity) plan to stay active and have fun with the kids.
Gifts $415.48 We purchased end-of-the-year gift cards for our kids’ teachers and a gift card for our niece for her birthday. In addition, we finally had our overnight stay at the waterpark for the twins’ birthday present, which included some costs for meals, a kids pedicure session, and a new stuffed animal to share.
Groceries $954.14 Thankfully our grocery bill is starting to come back down a bit. The first two weeks of the month, our bill averaged $256 a week; by the second half of the month, we dropped that down to $220. Our target is $200, so we’ve still got a bit of work to do.
Healthcare $231.45 Normal spending on premiums this month and one prescription.
Hobbies $48.14 We bought some coloring books and an annual pass for all Wisconsin state parks. We’ve already hiked in state parks twice this summer and plan to do a bunch more.
Home Updates $122.27 As a part of closing on our house, we had a few items from the inspection that we needed to take care of. This should be (fingers crossed) our last entries for home updates for the next year!
Household Care $247.48 This month’s hodge-podge: toilet paper, nighttime pull-ups, face wipes, aloe, floss, multi-surface cleaner, shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, hand soap, contraception, feminine products, deodorant, paper plates, paper napkins, baking soda, cleaning wipes, band-aids, sunscreen, water softener salt, and a furnace filter. In addition, we’re giving our lawnmower away to a friend as we won’t need it at the apartment; we got a new spark plug and changed the oil for the new owners. We did have one new item this month: recycled plastic food storage containers
Services $29.54 Life insurance through my work, fee for chemical disposal (old cleaning products), and mailing one of our daughter’s art projects to her aunt’s dog :)
Shelter $246.78 Interest on our mortgage payment, our last month of homeowner’s insurance, and a $1 fee for our change-of-address form with the post office. Note: We don’t log our mortgage principal payments as an expense since we consider them to be net-worth-building payments.
Thrifty $2.00 My Airbnb reservation for FinCon got canceled by the owner, but I found another one for $12 less. Lucky lucky. This refund offsets most of the hosting fees and source code storage for Thrifty this month.
Transportation $820.55 Four tanks of gas and our annual car insurance payment
Travel $48.38 My wife got some awesome (but new) games for the car to help us minimize screen time for our upcoming road trip in August: Car Bingo, Travel Hangman, and Family Talk
Utilities $191.75 Gas, electric, and internet.
Total $4,780.56  

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 bought one pair of shoes and one pair of sandals, but those are on the exception list. Outside of this, we did have three types of purchases that were new:

  • A new stuffed animal for our kids to share. We got this when we took our kids on an overnight trip to a hotel with a waterpark. At the hotel, they had an interactive scavenger hunt game with kiosks spread throughout the facility. In order to play, you had to buy a $30 stuffed animal. I wasn’t about to buy one for each kid, so we bought one for the family to share and planned to give it away to another family at the end of the trip. The whole game took us about 15 minutes and the kids got really upset at the thought of giving up their stuffed animal. So…not worth it. At least we learned a lesson for next time!
  • Recycled plastic food storage containers. With school out, the kids have a lot more time at home and we wanted to ensure we could help manage the requests for food by pre-packing snacks for them. With our food storage options limited, we needed to get some containers. My wife came home with these from the store and I teased her about the nothing new year. She defended that they were recycled plastic so they were “kind of used”. I think we have different definitions of the word used :)
  • Car games for our road trip. This is a tough one for me because the items are certainly new, but they are emphasizing something even more important to me - minimizing screen time on our road trips. I’d like to spend our next road trip with more interaction and more creative time instead of our kids watching movies and playing games on their tablets.

Of the three, I feel the best about the car games. The storage containers might have been available used from Goodwill or another thrift store, but you never know what’s in the plastic. I’ve learned way too much about phthalates through my job to feel comfortable with that. The stuffed animal was definitely not worth it :)

Through the first six months of the year, we’ve purchased eight 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

While we haven’t hit the goal every month, we are still purchasing a lot fewer new items this year. By way of comparison, I looked at our spending from January through June of last year and we had purchased 52 new items!

Mortgage Payoff Update

We are closing on the sale of our house in two days - July 5th, after which we will be completely and utterly debt-free!

At the start of this month, we made our last regular payment so here’s the update chart for where we’re at after our June 1 payment:

Mortgage payoff progress: outstanding principal is down to $78424.84 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 $755 off our outstanding principal and are now at just under $78,500 remaining. In two days, we should be done selling the house and can write the last check to the bank, paying off the rest!

Whoaaaaa…..We’re Halfway There….

Halfway through the year, we’ve made some good progress on reducing how much we buy new. While we haven’t been perfect, we’re still way under what we did last year. I wish I had the data from our life years ago when we weren’t as thrifty so we could see how far we’ve really come.

In our debt freedom journey, we’ve got just two days left - it’s going to be surreal to be in a state where we don’t owe money to anyone.

We’ll keep doing our best at the nothing new year and try to apply what we learned this month toward next month’s goal. Keep Thrifty and Carry On!

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 Seven Update.

If you are debt-free, how did getting there change your life? If you’re not debt-free, how do you picture life could be different if you got there?