The Results Are In For No-Spend January

A pile of receipts on a colorful striped background

A pile of receipts on a colorful striped background

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I didn’t spend any unnecessary money in January… Kind of. Here’s what I learned.

If you caught our Goals & Resolutions podcast episode, you might remember that I vowed to spend zero unnecessary dollars in the month of January. I had gotten into a few bad habits that I wasn’t too pleased with, namely that I a) ordered things from Amazon on a whim, not waiting to fill up a cart with multiple items so I could avoid too many shipments, and b) was just spending money all willy-nilly. Since my online purchases are tied to my credit card—not my bank card—sometimes it would surprise me how much I was spending when I went to pay the bill.

The rules weren’t super specific, but essentially, if I didn’t need something, I wasn’t allowed to buy it. This also included things for my 6-month-old, Clark.

Here are some things that I, at some point during January, really, really wanted:

  • New speakers for my record player that sit on shelves rather than stand on the floor ($400)

  • White sneakers ($60-120)

  • This coat from Everlane ($250)

  • These shoes from Everlane ($75 sale price)

  • These pants from Everlane ($68)

  • This blazer from Everlane ($160)

  • Kind of everything from Everlane (they really get you with those Facebook ads…)

  • Canvas fabric and other supplies to make a cover for the doggy gate in my living room

  • Natural makeup and skincare products*

  • Prose custom shampoo and conditioner (I actually ordered this on January 31, then emailed them to cancel 🤦‍♀️because WHY DID I DO THAT?) ($50)

  • These pants from Madewell. I ended up getting them because a) they were on sale and I wear a common size that I was afraid would run out (it didn’t. eyeroll.), and b) I had returned a gift that didn’t fit me that I got for Christmas from my husband so I figured if I got these as a replacement it counted as a Christmas gift… right? right??

  • A rug pad for my bedroom rug ($40)

  • This wall lamp ($150)

  • A camera tripod with extension arm so I can start taking flat lay photos ($120)

  • Colored paper rolls, also for flat lay photos ($21-50)

  • Tons of things for Clark, I’m not even gonna go there ($$$$)

Looking back, there were a few things on this list that I nearly gave in and purchased, but it was really good I didn’t because they became irrelevant after a few days of waiting. Examples of that include the new speakers and the wall lamp (both very pricey things). I was trying to figure out how to decorate our living room, which was set up in a way that created a bunch of blank space. We were using a projector for our TV which projected directly onto a blank white wall, so that wall felt really empty, and on the other side of the room the piano sat by itself without much around it. Below is a post about it from my Instagram.

I thought, if I could put speakers on the shelves instead of on the floor, that might make it feel neater in that section of the room, and if I got the wall lamp that would fill up a bit of the empty corner by the piano and also provide more light which would help the no-overhead-lighting situation. I really thought I needed these things. But then, on a day that my husband and I both had off work, we decided to remove the projector and swap in our bedroom TV instead, subsequently rearranging the entire living room and making it feel much more filled out with the exact same items in the room (except adding the TV, which we already had). We moved the standing speakers across the room, and now, instead of $400 bookshelf speakers, all I need is 50 feet of speaker wire for $8. I spent $8 instead of $550!

The main category of items I wanted to buy but waited on was clothing. I am working diligently on updating my wardrobe, and I’m trying to be very intentional about it. Instead of buying things (except the Madewell pants, I know, I know), I put them in a Pinterest board and started compiling ideas.

A lot of the items I wanted were on sale, which made me panic that if I waited they would either be full price again or run out of my size. Apparel sites really do a good job of instilling panic in you: Sale price, 13 left in stock, hurry hurry hurry! Those shoes from Everlane, for instance. It has said 13 left in stock since the beginning of January. I thought that surely 13 people will snatch them up by February 1st… but nope. They are still there. And guess what? I went to Nordstrom Rack on February 2 to look for similar shoes, and found a pair that are even better for only $40. BOOYAH.

If I’m being 100% honest, I did go out on January 31 after spending days indoors (#polarvortex) and bought myself new makeup and a new water bottle to replace my stinky old one (friends, I found a dishwasher-friendly one, why did I not think of that before?!). That was a much-needed moment, and it was easier to do on the 31st instead of the 1st because my husband was home to watch the baby. Mama’s gotta treat herself, people. Solo shopping trips are my jam.

The other way I cheated was when I went to Goodwill to donate a few bags of clothing, and ended up buying the most adorable vintage sweater for Clark ($1.50) and a pair of Italian wool pants for myself ($6). But seeing as I donated dozens of items first, and only spent $7.50, I think that’s well within in the spirit of the goal this month.

After this month of changing my spending habits, I learned a few lessons that I am going to apply to the rest of the year.

1. Add items to your Amazon cart, and wait as long as possible to buy them. Chances are they will leave your cart and you will change your mind, OR you will combine a lot more into single shipments and avoid those piles of boxes in the house. Better for your bank, better for the environment.

2. Pinning things to a Pinterest board almost has the same endorphin-boosting effect as adding them to your cart. But $aves u cheddar.

My husband was looking over our budget for the month (we have a 50/30/20 rule set up) and he informed me that I saved $460 in January! Not only did I save money, but I think this exercise really helped me to realize how flippant I was getting with hitting that “Add to Cart” button. I feel more cautious about spending now, both from a financial standpoint but also with an awareness of my consumerism compulsion. Overall, I think that means this experiment was a success.

Do you have tricks to help you with spontaneous buying? Share them in the comments below!