Thursday, January 2, 2014

MY January Spending Challenge

Lots of my online friends and bloggers I read are doing what is termed a "Fiscal Fast" or having a "No or Low Spend January".

Since January comes after the biggest spending Holiday in the year(Christmas and/or Hanukkah)AND since January is also the beginning of the year and everyone talks about turning over a new leaf/changing their bad habits, it makes sense to want to tighten up on the old purse strings for a bit.

What doesn't make sense is to do one of these challenges and then go back to wonton shopping once it's over or to stock up crazy amounts of items right before the Fast/Challenge before you have to stop spending so you can make it to the end of the time frame you have chosen.

I guess doing one of these challenges gets you into a better mental state in regards to money but does it really affect your bottom line for the year?

If you spend more before a challenge in order to make it through one, aren't you just spending the money you would have spent during the time when you aren't spending?
If you go without during a challenge and then go out and buy the things you denied yourself for that time period when it's over, how is that reducing your spending over the long haul?
In my mind, it's just moving when you spend/what you spend around in time.

What you need to do more than one of these challenges is to examine your habits and change the ones that are making you spend too much $.  

Changing what you expect in life in regards to "things, consumables and experiences" and then where and how much you spend your money on them is the REAL challenge.

That or finding a way to make more money if you don't bring in enough to satisfy your needs and wants.

Perhaps changing your spending(or rather delaying your spending)for a week or month CAN lead you to develop new money habits, which is what you really want.......better habits about money.

But I find that, unless you put Christmas spending on a credit card and are wary of the impending delivery in January of a c/c bill, January may Not be the best time to avoid spending money.

You can find some good deals after the Holidays so it might be a real good time to spend some extra money to stock up on things you need now rather than later.

Who hasn't gone to Target or some other store after Christmas to buy some clearance Holiday items?  Along with all the d├ęcor and gift wrapping stuff on deep discount, there are food and paper products(either with Holiday colors or themes or specialty foods only carried for the Winter holidays)and you can get them now to put away for use later or use now.  Personally, if I can get Christmas toilet paper for 1/2 of what I pay for plain old white toilet paper in January, I'll use it in February to October or whenever it runs out. ;-)

An if you have kids, there are clothing and toy deals to be had too!
Why, I spent a few minutes on New Year's Day buying some Christmas presents for 2014.
So do you think I am crazy for doing this?

Crazy like a fox is more like it.
The store in question only has a storewide clearance sale this week plus I had a $X off $XX coupon I could use, so I'd be crazy not to buy it now for half or more off what they will charge me come next November.  I don't go nuts buying Xmas presents ahead but do buy if I know I can use it and I have the space to store it until next Winter....and most importantly, I have the money to afford it now.

So I'm spending $30 in January instead of spending $65 in November.  If I were to save that $30 in an investment instrument for 10 months instead, would it grow to $65 by November?  No way.
Financially it makes more sense for me to spend it now.

So the best of luck to all of you during your no-spending challenge!
I hope it goes well and gets you to really re-examine how you handle your money because that's the only lasting goal if you really think about it.

But me?.....I'll be scooping up the deals I can use, if and when I find them in January.  8-))




  1. You know, I actually agree a lot with this. Though I originally did not join any such challenges because I don't spend enough to begin with, I'm managing my spending differently. I do think it's a great idea, and I did it during Jan-Feb 2013. It showed me alternatives to what I was spending. I consider it more of a preview of what can be done. But like fad diets, fasting for a month and then forgetting about it for the next 11 months is a bit silly and counter-productive. As a preview, the fast gives you a good idea of alternate methods and what you can accomplish if you go hardcore. But it's very short term. I enjoy it as a short-term preview, and an interesting challenge to see how little I can spend and discover things I can apply to my everyday life. I think a condition of the challenge should be that you should stick to your scheduled spending before and after the challenge, to prevent the pre/post binge. That's what I did with mine.

  2. You are so right, that is why I generally don't do those challenges and stick with my same budgets year round. I can then overbuy one month if there is a sale and reduce spending the next. I don't buy Christmas gifts this soon but am tucking away $25 for next Christmas spending this paycheck - it sure helps to have all the money saved and not be worried about how I am going to pay for Christmas. Cheers!

  3. For the most part, I disagree with you. If you spend more either before or after the challenge, then it somewhat defeats the purpose but not entirely. Every time I go to the store, extra stuff is thrown in the cart like fruit snacks, candy bar, etc. If I go to the store less, I spend less overall. One could argue that I shouldn't buy that stuff anyway. Yeah, right. If my kid is good, I see nothing wrong with getting a little something for her. It also cuts down on eating out. Since we live in the country and its more trouble to come home and drive back into town, this is not an area of weakness for us but is foe many people. We typically spend less than $50 per month on going out to eat. Since we just got done with Christmas, my kids don't need any new clothes or toys. I don't buy a ton of clothes ahead of time because I never know what size they will be for that season and I have most of the clothing I need for the baby for the first couple years (hand me downs from friends). Regarding toys, the only reason I would buy toys now is for gifts. I did check out the toy section yesterday at WalMart and it was all crap. We don't need any linens or blankets this year but I would probably buy them in January because they typically have the best sales. The one big thing I will check out for a sale this month is blinds. That would break my challenge but I would do it if I got a great deal. We need blinds, especially on the baby's room, to keep the heat in and the cold out. I consider this money well spent. All in all, I do take the challenge seriously but wouldn't pass up a deal.

    The other reason that it makes sense for us to do this in January is that its freakin' cold here. Its 21 below here right now, no wind. I would much rather save my money for a warmer day.

    I know I spend a fair bit of money on a regular basis and I should reexamine my spending. However, for the most part, I'm okay with our discretionary spending. I feel the need to beef up our savings right now but overall I'm okay with where we are at.

    1. So really you need to change your shopping habit then....I mean going less often if that will keep you from spending more. This challenge isn't about spending less or differently for you. If this helps you go less frequently to the store then it's got value.

      And yah, once kids/babies get past a certain point it's crazy to buy clothes ahead(the seasonal stuff)since you can't judge how much/when they spurt up after about the 2 yr. mark. Once they are out of diapers though, socks and undies are worth getting ahead at the right price.

  4. I have always been turned off by the people who are buying ahead for a challenge so they won't spend for the specified period of time of the challenge!

    I will buy sales. I need a pair of shoe and will buy them before the soles wear completely through. And, I will pay to have these repaired. I just bought throws at Walmart for $0.50. Christmas presents, some Christmas paper plates for a quarter.

    The shoes I desperately need and food with a great discount with sales and coupons will still be bought. I cannot imagine what else I would spend. I have Miracle Whip, so there can be no food emergencies!

    There was a lots of other stuff in the cart, but I took it all out after the flush of discovery wore I also bought a bunch, about ten tied in a bunch, tootsie pops that were red and green. I will put some in the Valentine package that I will mail for free to big grandkids in NY and little ones in TX. The green ones will be for St. Patrick's Day. Of course, I found some five cent items for both holidays last year that will go off this year. Some things will be saved for my Christmas Child boxes.

  5. I'm with you, Sluggy! I went to the Dillard's sale yesterday (New Year's Day) and found some really great deals - 75% off - things I can put away for next Christmas - gifts for my nieces. They had darling Christmas pajamas for $10/pair - reg. $40! CRAZY not to buy them now and put them away. I do this quite often - buy ahead for upcoming birthdays, new babies, etc. It really does make sense rather than wait till the birthday, then go out and pay full price for something. And there's no problem with buying them - we pay our credit cards off in full every month. If this were not the case, then I would NOT be getting the deals I think I'm getting - due to paying the HIGH interest rates on a credit card. Some folks don't get this. It's not a deal if you are carrying the balance on your credit card for years!! I'm always on constant sale alert! ;-)

  6. I don't buy decorations 50% off only to hang onto to them to sell next Christmas. Nor do I buy costumes the day after Halloween to save them to sell on Oct. Must be why I'm not a bigger seller. I like to buy stuff that I can sell right away. I used to stockpile things like toilet paper, shampoo, etc, but I don't have the funds to put out, nor do I have the space to store more than what I need. So I don't have to go on a spending fast. I guess because I spend slow? lol

  7. I I agree for the most part - based on my spending habits. I typically stick to a list & don't buy much that I wasn't intending. As a result, delaying my shopping means bigger lists before and after.

    But, I do typically find a few ways to get more creative with my shopping, make more substitutes when I'm cooking, & both of these things lead to sometimes permanent changes that save money.

  8. Saving is always a top priority for me, so my simple goal this month is to SAVE MORE than I'd normally save. I never shop a year in advance anyways. I have no idea what size my kids will be in a year, what they'll like in a year, etc... So I'm not putting anything off that we need. I'm going through our pantry & freezer & using stuff up, choosing not to spend money on extra entertainment this month, etc... I understand where people are coming from, but for me, my no/low spends have always resulted in a fatter savings account!! :)

    1. I always bought ahead for my children, a whole year ahead. Of course, I could not buy shoes ahead. But, if you are saving by spending less on another category, then it is all the same as far as money saved.

  9. I agree, which is why we don't really have a budget per se other than living waaay beneath our means all the time. going to pass up a sale on say, flour, at $1.25/5 pound bag even if I have several bags on hand. We use a lot. No way will I say "no" to $12.00 jeans in my size (originally $65.00.) I will buy three pairs, (or all they had) and nit buy another pair for several years. There are weeks ehen our outflow is big, reflecting grocery loss leaders, sales on toiletries, school supplies, canning jars, clothing, linens, toys etc. Then we have weeks at a time when we don't step foot in a store. Our no spend periods reflect that prices are not rock ottom..Nothing can induce me to pay $1.00 for a 16 oz.bag of pasta when I know a local drugstore sells the same brand it twice a year for. 79/bag. We just don't eat pasta if we run out before the next sale.

  10. I have to say I'm pretty frugal most of the time but I look at a no/low spend week/month as an opportunity to cut out extraneous spending for a little while - I'm not saving anything major but I do become more aware of the little money bleeds that happen without me even noticing. So I'll cut out those unnecessary expenditures and hopefully stash a couple of hundred dollars into long term savings.

  11. I referenced you today in my blog post. I can really understand both sides of this argument. It really depends on how a person does it. For me the no spend days help me foster better habits that will hopefully carry through the year for me. I am cutting wayyyyyy back this month and we will be eating through our freezer and stockpile, but I do have money budgeted to pick up the loss leaders coupled with coupons.

  12. I actually have a little money this January to do a teensy bit of stocking up. What websites have good deals right now?

    1. Depends on what you are looking for. ;-)
      I'd check out brick and mortars for clearance/holiday deals. Bath and Body Works has their yearly clearance this time of year...up to 75% off. I generally don't use/buy that stuff but I got some gifts for someone who loves it on clearance. Check out slickdeals dotnet for HOT deals.

  13. We spent almost the entire of last year changing/altering our spending habits out of necessity. Now the No/Low spending is part of our new reality. I'm more focused on stocking up on good sale items that we regularly use, and increasing income.

  14. I agree with your post Sluggy. If it stops impulse purchases of unneeded items then I guess it is worth it. If all you do is postpone the inevitable, don't see the need.

    January is a great month to stock up on sales and stretch gift cards that I got. 75% off at Bath and Bodyworks today was a sweet surprise!

  15. I am participating in a no/low spend period, effective Jan 1, 2014. I blogged about it here:

    Life circumstances are forcing me to scrutinize more so than usual, every expenditure. I am a pretty frugal, and cautious person when it comes to finances, anyway, always living well below my means, saving as much as possible. Toss in a curve ball, and I'm tweaking what I do. I am also preparing ahead for a period of time when I physically can't do much, and will require help. By purchasing (within my budget) basic, staple ingredients for the next 2 months, anticipating what we will need, translates in me not having to ask DD to go grocery shopping, therefor items won't sneak in onto the conveyor belt as she checks out either. I have a menu plan, we are using, as we always do, items on hand. Some are earmarked to be eaten and not to be replaced, some will have temporary substitutes (once the cocoa packets are gone, we'll move to serving the kids tea in the morning, or we'll try a homemade cocoa mix). I'm facing a temporary, but large loss in income, for one month, where I will only receive child support. We have to reduce cash outlays NOW, so as to be able to meet our fixed expenses by tweaking all those variable expenses, eliminating some as needed. Fast forward, and i don't forsee us being any less misery until next Sept, when I am back to my full salary. This will be a hard Summer, more so than usual, but we will make it, hopefully without dipping into my savings.

  16. "You can find some good deals after the Holidays so it might be a real good time to spend some extra money to stock up on things you need now rather than later."-I think frugal living evolves. You go from being in debt passed your tolerance, learning to cut back, then to living on bare-bones. to saying its ok to spend a little to save a ton. So what's next cuz I haven't gotten that far?


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