Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Living Richly in Retirement-A No Spend Challenge

A frugal friend who has just starting blogging has challenged me to make a list of things on which I do not plan to spend money on in the coming year.  Disclaimer: While I may accumulate these things, I will not spend money unless they are free. We are each to come up with our own lists.  Her reasons are to pay down debt and increase her emergency fund. My reasons would be to free up disposable income in general.  This is not a declutter challenge, but a no spend challenge. Some times they are the same things and some times the differ largely.

Since I think this is a good goal for a variety of reasons, I've been throwing out what things I can and cannot include in my "no spend" pile:
  • Clothing-under normal circumstances, I think ninety percent of Americans can live without buying new clothing (except underwear and socks) for a year, unless they make a major climate change.  This would certainly be normal for myself, except for the fact that I lost fifty pounds in the last few months and have another fifty to go.  Since I'm a quilting expert, not a true seamstress, I'll shortly look like a middle aged orphan. I can, however, commit to buying used clothing only (with the aforementioned exemptions) which will be easier the more weight I loose.
  • Personal Products and OTC meds like aspirin and first aid products.  I have a small stash of these, and CVS and Walgreen's regularly have deals where these are free after coupons and the like. Beyond this year, I may never have to buy these things again. Obviously if I need aspirin and have not found a sale I will buy it. But as we speak I have five body wash bottles, two shampoos and two conditioners, besides the one I am I believe this is a doable challenge. It will also push me to use those last dribs and drabs which I sometimes forget to use.
  • Books. I'm going to again commit to not buying any fiction, instead relying on the library, gift cards and free kindle books. I believe this to be doable. I will still buy non-fiction. Lest anyone misunderstand my stand on books from my previous discussions, I do in fact read piles of fiction-at least two books a week on average.  I just haven't found many fiction books that I need to keep on my shelf. I cannot eliminate non fiction because of requirements for classes and the occasional reference book on gardening that I may decide to buy.
  • Household products and decorator items. While I would like to say that I will not spend on these items, instead I will say that these items will be bought used if they can be-this section includes pillows, candles, throws, curtains, bathroom rugs and the like.  Many people would find this an easy area on which to spend nothing-I would probably agree, with the exception of my  windows and patio items, living in a warm climate.  I've had blinds and no curtains for three years because nothing has struck me as "right"-Murphy's law says that the minute I pinky swear on this deal it will come to me in a flash!
  • Home entertainment. I believe that I can commit to this with the exception of my ten dollar Netflix commitment. I am fortunate that I regularly get I tunes gifts, and have many Cd's already to listen to as well as radio streaming. I never, ever buy movies, saving my money instead for those times I can go to the real theater for free.
I'm sure I will need to fine tune my list and make adjustments. New areas of no spending may occur to me. It's also worth noting that this no spend list is about possessions, not about experiences.  While I believe that there may be items in that area that possibly could be cut, I wanted this one to be about those specific things that we usually purchase and never think about.

What about you? Are there things you could be getting cheaper or for free?? Things you could buy used or do without?  Can you do any "non-spending" in the months to come?


  1. Not so sure if this qualifies but the Hunny and I have decided not to buy a lot of groceries unless we are actually out of something. We want to eat everything in the cubbards and most of it we won't replace right away if we can eat something else in it's place.

    So we are only buying, staples, fruit, vegies, Milk and meat weekly when we are out of something.

    I also wanted to say that my friends of the Library has a great ongoing sale and often there are some very good gardening books for sale.

  2. I like this idea quite a bit. I already follow much of the list, preferring to spend money on experiences rather than many things.

    Like you we live in a climate that invites us to be outdoors for much of the year. Colorful pots, plants, and outside furnishings can't be on my list.

  3. This year I've decided not to resubscribe to magazines, even my beloved quilting magazines. I found my library has a great selection, thus saving me at least $200 a year! I am also using the library for videos. We have a wonderful library which allows me to go online, search for any video title (even current) and put it on hold. I may have to wait four or five weeks to get my turn at it, but it beats Blockbuster and Netflix. Lastly, I continue to be on my quest to not buy fabric for a year. I'm in the middle of reorganizing my quilt room now, and after folding fabric for three days now, I am more determined than ever to use what I have.

    Good luck with your list!


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