Crossing the Picket Line: Spending Strike Update.

About a month ago I talked with you about my efforts to live on less money this summer, particularly by going on a spending strike. I want to update you on my progress, which isn't stellar. I can do much, much better.

Let me fill you in.

Since July 10th, when I started my spending strike, I spent $643 on necessary expenses. This includes my student loan, lawn care for when I was traveling with John, utility bills, an oil change for my car, fees for my teaching license, gas (which happened to be more because I was driving to Arkansas) etc. I budgeted about $700 for necessary expenses each month, so this number is right on track.

Since July 10th, I spent $190 on unnecessary expenses. This number is NOT on track. Ideally, this number should be $0. One part of the $190 was a $70 shopping 'spree' where I got two new tank tops and a pair of athletic capri pants. I didn't need new clothes. The other $120 was on dinners or lunches out with John and/or friends, trips to the dollar store for a few things, a beer here and there with friends, etc. I am pretty shocked that in only a few weeks I spent $190 that I didn't need to spend. And this was after I supposedly started my spending strike!

But, I have more to share with you.

I was curious how much unnecessary money I spent in all of July - not just from the 10th onward. (From even before I decided to start the spending strike.) You know, on little things that I didn't need, shopping, etc.

You are going to be blown away with disgust.

In the whole month of July, before and after starting the spending strike, I unnecessarily spent $506.

I'm not kidding. Doesn't that make you sick?

It sure as hell makes me sick. If you're doing the math, that means from the 1st to the 10th, I spent about $316 on crap that I didn't need, or meals I could have made myself, and more. Honestly, I couldn't even tell you what I purchased or where we had dinner. None of it was meaningful, special, or necessary. This tells me that I made the right choice to start a spending strike.

What's even more sad is that I am still on track to make my summer teacher salary last until the middle of September, like I planned. I just blew a bunch of money that I could have put away into savings.

I did better after starting the spending strike, but I still spent $190. So I'm refocusing, people.

Here's my August goal: Because I spent $190 on unnecessary expenses in about 3 weeks, I am going to make a goal to spend less than $100 on anything unnecessary for the rest of the month of August. Bills and necessary expenses will be accounted for, but I will not spend more than $100 on unnecessary things in August.

I plan to achieve my goal by:

Meal planning (which has never been a problem) and sticking to it!
We have this little weekly planner hanging in our kitchen, which I use every week for a meal plan. The problem is, I don't always stick to it. 

It's not that I forget to thaw out the ground beef, or I run out of cheese, or I don't have onions. It's that something more appealing catches my eye, or I get a last-minute lunch or dinner date with a friend I haven't seen in a long time, or I lose track of time in the garden and am so hungry I'd rather eat a sub sandwich from the shop down the street.

Enough with the excuses. I'm not spending any more money on food than what I usually spend at the grocery store each month.

Making cooking fun again!
Whether that includes trying a new recipe (like the knock-off Olive Garden zuppa toscana soup) or firing up the smoker for a day of cookin', it's got to be entertaining. The more fun it is, the less likely I am to purchase takeout.

Looking for alternatives to dinner and drinks with friends!
Especially when John is traveling for work, I rely on friends for keeping me company. Often times we grab drinks or dinner (or both!), which can add up very quickly. It's not uncommon for me to spend almost $20 on dinner just for myself. And sometimes that doesn't include drinks.

I was really excited when a few of my friends decided that instead of doing our monthly girl's dinner out, we should have a potluck-style girl's night in. Each of us will take a turn hosting, and the laughter and libations will still flow freely. Win-win, people.

Pay at the pump! 
I need to make an effort to pay for my gas at the pump, rather than in the gas station. What starts as running inside to pay for gas, turns into a pack of gum, a lemonade, maybe a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. You know how it goes! Before I know it, I've spent an extra $5 on junk food. Paying at the pump is where it's at.

Making purchases after I've thought about it for at least a day!
The other day I saw a deal for 250 return address labels for $5. I thought to myself, "Self, that's a great deal! You should grab your debit card and get you some labels!"

About midway through personalizing my labels, I thought to myself (again), "Self, what the eff are you doing? You don't need any damn return address labels. You don't even mail more than 2 pieces of mail in a month. Can you just, you know, write your return address on the envelope?"

So I didn't get the labels, and saved my cheap ass $5.

This brought me to the realization that I need to put some think-time in between me and my purchases. What seems like a totally logical and necessary purchase at the moment, is more often than not an unnecessary item that we can make due without. I wonder how much money I can save with this strategy alone?

What do you think? What can I do to make my spending strike more successful? Do you want to join in on the spending strike with me? I know you want to.


  1. I can appreciate the struggle you are having in not spending unnecessary money on things you don't need. We deal with it daily. And like you don't always do so good. The fact that you are determined to keep trying, I respect that! Chin up! You can do this, and you'll make a difference in someone else's life while you're doing it. So glad to see someone honestly talking about this!

  2. I looked at how much i spend each month after reading this post and I'm downright embarrassed.


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