TMI: Reporting Back on “No-Spend January”

Credits: Photo - Anonymous, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Location - Sarah G. Schmidt's home

Fashion friends, I’ve done the impossible. After thirty-one long mornings, days, and nights, I can proudly – and gushing with sweet relief – say that I have completed my no-spend January. Cue the extensive, raucous applause.

Now for some real talk. At first it was a harsh adjustment. One of the biggest day-to-day changes was our eating habit. No quick takeout pickups from our favourite neighbourhood Pho place. No going out for a drink with a friend at a restaurant or bar. Aside from six non-work related Starbucks runs, I did not treat myself. I would like it to go in record that the aforementioned six Starbucks were via my pre-paid app that I last loaded up in early December so technically I did not purchase out of pocket. Can I get away with that? Instead we made a pot of coffee at home, every morning and took our insulated mugs.

When we wanted to be social, we hosted people over for dinners and weekend brunch. It’s quite simple to ask someone to bring something to add to what we were making. Of course we had been doing this for years before, the difference now was that it was the only option so we got pretty good at it. Friends of ours invited us over too and we gladly brought a bottle of wine from the house or picked up a modest dessert in our usual grocery runs ahead of time.

There was no popping into the sale sections, second hand, or completing my online shopping cart, to scoop up some under valued delicious fashion finds. No, while I may have looked, I unhappily abstained. My VISA stayed at home.

As time went on, I really got into it. I started looking at other ways I could save from spending money while still living my full life. Here are a few examples:

  • As my contact supply dwindled down to my last dozen, I decided to wear my glasses more. Don’t I look so smart?
  • I decided to stretch my next hair appointment into February and rock the “dark roots” look.
  • We used up movie and restaurant gift cards graciously given to us from dear people and stuck to the pre-paid packages as to not pay extra cash.
  • When we had to book upcoming travel for a loved ones wedding, points was the answer.
  • Finally, I reached out to my business community to set up meetings and get together’s that both benefited my work and my eligible expenses.

I can honestly say that the only clothing, hair, nails, or makeup item I purchased was a pair of socks. This was only because I was getting a blister from all the walking to, during, and from the Woman’s March. They were $10.49 all in. That was money well spent as I walked from my home in Hillhurst to downtown and back as to save money that would have otherwise been spent on transit and parking.

One thing I didn’t anticipate was how much extra time I would have on my hands from not going out and about. Quickly after realizing this I brainstormed ways that I could use my time more wisely and in ways that I would feel good about. I did a schwack of home organizing, went to the library a tonne, and did a lot of DIY style projects. Curious about how else I passed the time while getting something done?

  • I painted my nails at home and tried new ways to apply my makeup with stock on hand. If I screwed up, I wiped it off and started again. It was like I was thirteen again.
  • Garments that have been hanging in my home office clothing rack for weeks finally got the repairs they needed. I adjusted hems of jeans and extended the legs of overall denim shorts to full legs. I even modified my partner’s unicorn onesie to better accommodate his ultra tall frame.
  • One cold day I took out all of my shoes and cleaned, sprayed, and protected them from this harsh winter with my trusted shoe care kit. Getting a little high from the fumes was a pleasant, yet unintentional, bonus of not being able to do it outside.
  • I, even, revived my love of jigsaw puzzles and crushed those thousand pieces in no time.

Basically, I kept my mind and hands busy so that I was not tempted. The project was so successful that my partner and I have decided to extend it. Keep saving that chedda! We like the challenge of trying to spend less yet still have fun. Sure we’ll loosen up the constraints over time, but as a friend said to me from a book we’ve both read, money spent now means that money is gone forever. Harsh, yet true.

Do you have any cheap or no-spend thrills to share?