Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

30 Day Challenge #1: Spending Freeze

Happy New Year, friends! I hope you all had a fun night, doing whatever you did. Me? I went to a party, sans husband who was home with a fever, for a few hours. Fun fact: it was a costume party and I, who never dresses in costume, dressed up. I went as Janeane Garofalo’s character from the movie Mystery Men. Never heard of it? If it helps, neither have most people and absolutely no one knew who I was. So that was fun. Also, I couldn’t drink because no designated driver. So that was fun, too. 

But now that’s over and we’re getting down to the business of the year. And while I have no goals or resolutions, I am choosing to focus on improvement and habit changes. I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to approach this and then I thought: 30 DAY CHALLENGES! I love the idea of 30 day challenges because I really can’t think of anything I can’t do for a month. Hell, I made it, successfully, through a Whole30. If I can do that, I can do anything. 

I haven’t fully mapped out all the 30 day challenges for the year (I am taking suggestions if you have them), although I do have January and February planned. I’ll keep you in suspense for February. As for January, well, that’s what we’re going to talk about now. 

Given the hemorrhaging of money that happens in December, and the fact that I have become completely oblivious and unintentional as to how I spend my money and what I spend it on, I’ve decided I’m doing a 30 day spending freeze for January. I’m not doing it save or pay down debt or any reason other than I need to start paying attention again. I have had it with haphazardly buying random crap and wondering a) why I have it and b) where all my money went. The moment that made me realize this is how I needed to start the new year? I recently cleaned out all my makeup and assorted other products and realized how many duplicates–unnecessary duplicates–I have and it’s all as a result of mindless spending (you know how it goes. Walk into Bath and Body to buy one thing, smell all the scents, buy 27 bottles of antibacterial soap instead of the thing you meant to buy). Apparently, that’s where my money goes (also to Wawa or Amazon or Walgreen’s. Seriously. I added it up. It’s disgusting and I have no idea what I bought most of the time).

So in an effort to use what I have, regain purpose and intention in how I use my money, and stop wasting it, I’m pushing pause on my spending. I have bigger plans for my income. I want to do that stuff instead.

My rules for my freeze are simple:

  1. Don’t spend money on unplanned expenses
  2. Gift cards are cheating
  3. Stuff other people buy me is not (ex., husband bringing me coffee)

Easy enough to follow. I think. I mean, they’re not difficult nor are they expansive or unreasonable or too restrictive. I guess that’s what happens when you make rules for yourself. 

I’m confident I picked a shit month to do this. I mean, is there really ever a good month to do a spending freeze because, you know, life, but this month is extra bad. We have 2 cheer competitions, one of them a 2 day one in Atlantic City, NJ (please, don’t be jealous of my trip to Atlantic City in the middle of January. I know it sounds incredibly appealing), and my dad’s birthday. I can plan as much as possible for these events, and I’m perfectly capable of saying no, but sometimes it’s exponentially easier to say yes. And while my bank account won’t necessarily suffer from saying yes, it’ll definitely be a setback in mindset. But if I know it’s a setback, and I choose to do it anyway, do I still learn from it? 

I feel this is a chicken and egg discussion and I think I’ll stop now. 

So that’s it for my January challenge. I’ll report back at the end of the month to let you know how I did. 

Have you guys ever done a spending freeze? How’d it go for you?

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27 Comments

  1. kathy @ more coffee, less talky

    January and February are always spending freeze months for me because of holiday spending where we practically open the door and just throw money outside.

    This morning, we nearly went out for breakfast even though we have all the ingredients here at home to make the exact same thing the restaurant would charge us $35 for!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I do that, too. Sometimes when I make something fancy, I proclaim “DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH THIS WOULD COST IN A RESTAURANT?!”

      I don’t know that I can do a 2 month spending freeze but I’m hoping that practicing being aware again is a habit that just sticks.

      Reply
  2. Tonya@Budget and the Beach

    December was super expensive for me too and it’ the first month I did’t even budget, not once! So I’m getting back to financial basics myself. I’ve never done a spending freeze because i’m one of those people who become rebellious with challenges and the opposite happens and I actually get worse with the behavior. Go figure! Good luck!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I can see that about you ๐Ÿ™‚

      It’s why I have to set my own rules rather than follow someone else’s. Setting my own rules means I have to be accountable to me and using someone else’s, especially if I don’t like the rules, gives me more incentive to say “fuck it”.

      Reply
  3. Linda Sheridan

    Great timing! Rich and I are 63 and 60 with no nice tax payer funded pensions and he’s nice enough to carry the load so I can be home with our grandchildren! I overbuy household stuff. I never want to run out
    Of anything even though I live minutes away from
    Stores. We are making concerted efforts to save and monitor spending. Also using what we have.
    Happiest and most successful 2017 to all!
    Love, Steph’s Momma

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I do fear running out of stuff, too, but if I do, I figure there’s always something I can use as a temporary replacement. Better than stocking up on unnecessary things.

      Reply
  4. Kristin

    I like your reason for doing this. Whenever I do a spending freeze, I take the same approach. I just want to pay attention to what is happening and stop the hemorrhage. I started keeping receipts last week because I was like “I’ll do a spending freeze” and then figured I’d wait for January.
    Looking forward to following along!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I cannot keep receipts. I lose them or inadvertently throw them away. I just write it all down in the checkbook instead.

      Reply
  5. Rebecca Jo

    I have the same goal. Groceries & household needs dont count – but anything that isn’t a NECESSITY – & Starbucks is considered a necessity ๐Ÿ˜‰ See why I make my own rules.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I love that Starbucks is a necessity for you! And I love that you make your own rules, too!

      Reply
  6. Stephanie

    She had her dad’s skull in a bowling bowl, how could people not know that character? It’s also the movie that Smash Mouth’s All Star is from, so I feel sad for anyone who doesn’t know it.
    I’m trying to limit spending this month too. I’d like to freeze it totally, we shall see! I hope you’re successful!!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      THANK YOU for knowing who I’m talking about!!! No one knew. NO ONE.

      Reply
  7. Jenniemarie

    A no spend challenge is how we met! Now I have all the feels ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I seriously need to get our spending under control. It was so much easier when it was out of necessity. I think I’ll start by tracking our spending after the kids go back to school in a few days and I get my mind back. Tracking is always an eye opening way to force a spending freeze, right?

    I’m on day 8 of Whole 30…. and that is the only challenge I can manage at the moment. I do love picking a different 30 day challenge every month!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      It IS how we met ๐Ÿ™‚

      I agree that it’s much easier when it’s out of necessity. But I guess doing this now is a way to tackle it before it becomes necessity again.

      Reply
  8. SMD @ Life According to Steph

    I used to do them all the time but stopped. I am on a shopping ban for most things over the next few months as we discussed via text, but not a spending freeze.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      That’s my approach with books for the next couple of months. But that’s for February’s challenge.

      Reply
  9. Lauren

    I’m so with you. I felt like I spent tons at Christmas this year, though I can’t really pinpoint on whom. Maybe in the way that some people have a food journal to track what they eat, I need to write down the money I spend on things that aren’t gas or groceries. I did get a new coffee maker for Christmas so hopefully it’s novelty will save me from going out for coffee, at least for a few weeks!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I think that’s a great idea. Over the years, I’ve known people who do that and it really helps see where your money goes. I think there are even some apps that will do it for you.

      Reply
    2. Lauren

      its*

      I had to fix it. I’m judging me. That’s what I get for trying to multitask ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Reply
  10. Tanya @ A Mindful Migration

    Of course, I’ve seen the movie Mystery Men and can absolute see you killing it as Janeane Garofalo’s character! As I said before, I love your idea of focusing on habits versus big goals because I think habits over the long run make a bigger difference. I’m generally not a big fan of challenges, because as the least rebellious person, they are where I oddly choose to rebel. ๐Ÿ˜€ My spending is under control (only because I have a super tight budget) but my eating is not. Stopping my emotional eating is something I really want to conquer this year. Good luck on your spending freeze!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I think you can do it!

      I’ve always said that someone like Janeane Garofalo would play me in a movie so it was extra fun to dress as her character.

      Reply
  11. Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders

    We’re doing a spending freeze in January too, and I’m really hoping that we’ll be able to do it! We’re going to try and not buy anything but the necessities and food, so we’ll see how it goes!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      My husband refuses to do it so it’s just me. I’m pretty confident it’s easier this way.

      Reply
  12. Donna Freedman

    Due to a couple of private financial goals, we’re going to see how little we can spend in the next six months or so. Not exactly a spending freeze, more like gradual hypothermia of the budget.

    We plan to eat our way through our extensive pantry (he buys 50 pounds of flour and 20 pounds of beans at a time at Costco) and freezer. Some of our garden stuff got preserved and we recently pressure-canned two loss-leader turkeys (one of which was given to us). He and I are also frugal chefs with tactics like “the boiling bag” (you can Google that along with my name if you want to find out more), homemade yogurt* and using Amazon cards I get from Swagbucks to buy frou-frou fancy stuff like quinoa (which costs $10 a bag in Alaska !) and flaxseed.

    Should be an interesting few months. And yeah, I’ll probably write about it.

    *I like a thicker product so I strain it overnight. We add the resulting whey to oatmeal, stews and curries, and my partner uses it in place of water when making bread. Can’t help lovin’ that man.
    Donna Freedman recently posted…Christmas at the airport.My Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Your resourcefulness and frugality always amaze me.

      Reply
  13. texerinsydney

    I’ve done the “no shopping” for x amount of time, but I don’t think I ever called it a spending freeze or make set rules. I like the set rules that work for you. Not too many. Simple. Straight-forward. Good luck with it!

    Reply
  14. kristen

    walgreens was a huge black hole of spending for me as well and i had to straight up stop going.
    my main reasoning for doing my shopping/spending challenge was because i kept wanting to do things and realising i had spent all our money, and i’d get cranky. well not all of it, but too much of it. and like you, i had unnecessary duplicates of makeup that i barely use, online impulse purchases that are still in the freaking packaging they were mailed in, clothes with tags, books i bought 2 years ago that i just HAD TO HAVE and still haven’t read… it went on and on. so yeah. but i planned for the setbacks i knew i’d have, and i feel like because i planned for them and acknowledged them before i did it, it didn’t feel like a failure or setback in mindset. if i had gone to the mall or bought something online impulsively, then it would have felt like a huge failure. i also think because i allowed myself those things (shopping on my trip with my mum, a few books a month) i was less likely to make the other mistakes.
    anyway. best of luck and i love the idea of doing 30 day challenges each month!

    Reply

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