An experiment in non-spending…

Well…I did it…I went an entire month without making a non-essential purchase.  It wasn’t easy…there were actually quite a few things that I wanted to buy.  But I stuck to my goal and I made it through the month.

I ended up spending more money than I thought I would.  At the beginning of the month, I’d kind of assumed I would only spend money on gas and groceries.  Anything else, I’d decided, was not essential.  Turns out I was wrong.

One of the things I’d originally decided was an absolute indulgence and was off-limits this month was taking a taxi from the train station to the office.  There was no reason that I couldn’t walk or take the subway.  That is…until I got sick and had to drag myself to work anyway.  On those days when I probably should have been in bed, I gave myself the present of a ride the 15 blocks to the office.  Totally worth it.

I also ended up driving to work a few times…twice because I had to go out after work and it didn’t make sense to go home first.  Another day I was just too sick to get onto the train.

There were also a few other things…like the crazy expensive fruit from the deli.  I don’t know what kind of voodoo magic they are working at the deli, but the fruit is super sweet and delicious and far superior to what I was getting at the grocery store.  So I spent the extra money on it.  Then there were the scones…the amazingly fresh and delicious scones from Alice’s Tea Cup that had been calling to me for weeks. I treated my coworkers to breakfast last Friday and those scones were possibly the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten.  I bought a few books…but with two hours of commuting each day, books are a necessity.

And, of course, there were the lottery tickets.  It was a record-breaking jackpot…I couldn’t not take a shot.  I won $2…which is not the same as winning $640 million…but at least it wasn’t a total loss.

The thing is…there were a bunch of things I didn’t buy.  The dress I saw that was cute, but totally not practical.  The somewhat expensive desk I liked to replace the perfectly functional desk in my craft room.  The gorgeous Marc Jacobs bag that I spent a week staring at online.  I also didn’t set foot inside a Target, Michael’s or Christmas Tree Shop…my top three favorite places to buy all the things I never even knew I needed.  I swear…I walk into those places and it’s like the money just gets sucked right out of my wallet.

It was a really good lesson for me.  By forcing myself not to shop, I took a second look at the things I had around the house.  I got to cross a lot of things off my to-do list with all the extra time I had.  If I wanted to do a project, I used what I had on hand…which forced me to be more creative.  Making dinner was also interesting because instead of running out for fast food or takeout, I used what I had in the fridge…and I definitely threw out less spoiled food because of it.  And stopping to think before making a purchase made me realize that the dress was something I’d never wear and with a few slight modifications my desk will be perfect for what I need.

It also made me realize that not all purchases are bad and it’s ok to splurge on myself.  So I’m still contemplating that new bag.  I don’t really need a new bag…but it’s just so pretty.

This was a great experiment for me and I think it has really changed the way I look at spending money and buying new things.  I’m not sure I will go back to mindless spending.  I see a future filled with less impulse buys and less buyer’s remorse.


  1. You made it!!! I actually agree with the things you “splurged” on this month. Really good fruit is worth the extra money. I do the same when I buy organic. Or buy at the Farmer’s Market, even though it’s a bit more expensive. In fact, really good food in general is worth the extra money. Because it’s part of living a great life that we get to have here. In your next life, you may be eating rice in Ethiopia…so we should enjoy this while we have it. By the way, Marc Jacobs called. He said you have earned yourself a new bag.

  2. Congrats. It can be insanely hard not to buy stuff. Sometimes I have to ban myself from Target. And don’t even get me started on Michaels. I just cleaned out my craft room and I’ve banned myself from buying any more crafting supplies until I use up the ones I have. I’m sure I can make something amazing out of all the crap I have.

  3. I think this is a great experiment and I’m glad you took away the important lessons from it. I think all too often we rush to purchase something for special occasions or just because we can… I know I do.

    I’ve tried really hard to not impulse buy lately and it’s helped me a lot. I just keep reminding myself of what I’m saving for or why I’m not spending and it evens it out.

    I started a wish list on pinterest. Anytime I find something I feel like I can’t live without – I pin it. I will go back to my “wish list” maybe once a month, and realize quickly that the thing I pinned… isn’t as awesome as I thought or I don’t need it like I thought I did. More often than not.. I delete stuff… which would have been an impulse buy… and never think twice about it. The only things holding steady on the list are things I truly want. And those will hang there until I have saved up the money for them.

    {I’m on a very anti credit card diet right… nothing gets purchased with them unless it’s a strict NEED no wanting anymore}.


  4. I really envy people who *can* just go out and buy things impulsively, and live vicariously through them. So, for the rest of us, would you PLEASE buy the Marc Jacobs bag so we can drool? It really would be you doing something for others! I’m such a purse fiend.

    Honestly though, congratulations! Budgeting is hard work, and when you limit yourself to a certain standard of spending, it’s crazy how quickly you realize what you mindlessly spend. Gotta love perspective!

  5. Totally impressive! I’ve been meaning to do something like this. It is important for me to learn to control my spending especially since I’m staying at home now. We don’t have any credit cards at all, so that helps–but it is still really easy to over spend. Since I’ve been home I’ve been spending my extra money on things for decorating the house. I don’t really consider that to be frivilous or anything, but I could totally use some more self control!

  6. I have to say, I’m pretty impressed. I’m not sure I could make it.

  7. I have a problem with casual indulgences myself. The coffee from Dunkin in the morning, the salad at the cafe across the street, the drinks out with the girlfriends. But I’m trying to be more conscious of my spending, too. Because it’s been going on for far too long and I have mounting credit card bills I need to pay off.

    I’ve been dying to go to Alice’s Tea Cup but I haven’t made it there in awhile. I had plans to visit with a gf who lived not terribly far, but it was a Saturday and the line was crazy. One of these days. Those scones sound amazing!


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