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December Spend-Less Challenge: Let's Fill Our Stockings with Pinched Pennies!

post #1 of 87
Thread Starter 

This is a support thread to help you not spend your money. December can be a hard time to watch our budgets, but that makes it even more important that we pay attention to where our dollars are going.

 

Everyone is welcome to join and you can start tracking your spending at any time. It doesn't have to be December 1st. NOW is a good time to start.

 

The plan is simple (although tough to execute):

 

1. Vow not to spend any money on unnecessary purchases.

 

2. Come on here and record your spending. We all record our spending in different ways. There are no rules. You record and update however you would like -- pick a way that will help you spend the least amount of money.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Please write an introductory message when you decide to join our thread. We would like to know:

 

a. Who you are

 

b. Where you are going (your financial goals) and

 

c. How you plan to get there

 

Good luck MDCers!! Keep that money in your wallet.

post #2 of 87
Thread Starter 

I hope it's OK that I started the next thread (and lifted most of my text from last month's!). These are helping me so much, I really want to keep my momentum going.

 

a. Who you are

 

I'm Melissa, a homeschooling, very-part-time WAHM to two kids.

 

 

b. Where you are going (your financial goals) and c. How you plan to get there

 

This month my main financial goal is to strictly streamline spending in a few budget categories (groceries, outside food, clothing) so we can end the month (and year!) even instead of over. It can definitely be done, but it will take some serious effort on my part. We did comparatively well last month, and I feel like I learned a lot about how we need to eat, how little we can actually eat, how creative the kids and I can be with food, how to avoid some of my trigger points for eating out, how to use my couponing skills more effectively, etc., so I'm hoping this month will be even better.

 

My second goal is to keep us under the holiday budget we set. In past years I've left so much until the last minute that I ended up paying premium prices for everything. I'd forget to use my coupons, buy all the cards at the last minute when you're left with all the crazy expensive ones, lose track of what I'd already bought and end up going overboard on gifts for the kids--I even found gifts I'd hidden and forgotten about in JANUARY :eyesroll. This year I started early, capitalized on coupon/rebate deals at the stores, made a spreadsheet of what I've bought (and where I've hidden it all :lol), etc., and I'm already more than halfway done. Any money left over in the Christmas budget will put us that much further ahead for next year.

 

I'm looking forward to a great month and starting 2014 in the black!

 

 

Key: 

No unplanned/unbudgeted spending: thumb.gif

Unbudgeted spending: irked.gif

Ate at home all day: yummy.gif

----------------------

No-unbudgeted-spending days: 0/31

 

12/1:

12/2:

12/3:

12/4:


Edited by melissel - 11/30/13 at 10:26pm
post #3 of 87

Totally OK to start up the next thread.  I was just coming to do that myself if no one had it up and running by this evening.  So, here goes!  I don't expect to do all that well this month, but November was encouraging, and I think I can pull off December without too much pain and anguish.

 

a. Who you are  I'm Sarah, a homeschooling mom of 2 girls.

b. Where you are going (your financial goals) Just keeping it simple for now--make it through December without dipping too much into savings.   

c. How you plan to get there Keeping my spending under control, and that includes driving.

 

Even though today is November, I came to record the day.  Started some Christmas shopping (below) and hit up the thrift store for sweaters, as dh washed my last and favorite bargain-merino sweater in his wash load.  Found one big, cozy merino cardigan (grey), a fitted merino turtleneck (charcoal grey, J. Crew) and one cotton mock turtleneck, all for $10.  Cha-ching!

 

Christmas Spending:

Gifts: $45.50/$400  

Junk: $44.50 tree lights/wrapping paper

 

Just the Christmas tree left.  Last year we made it through with no new lights or paper, so I'm making up for it.  This should last us a couple years at least.

post #4 of 87

a. Who you are  Corri a sahm to three kids a 9 year old 7 year old and 3 year old.

 

b. Where you are going (your financial goals) for this month our goals are not to spend over 200$ for each kid for Christmas and to cut down on unneeded expenses for the new year .

 

c. How you plan to get there  by finding things we can cut back on and getting smarter with food shopping.

 

 

a BIG key here is to not go out to eat and remind my husband why this is a bad idea.

 

Im going to record things here - our whole budget if I remember it all as it comes

 

dec 1st. rent 1080 (deducted 20$ for insulator)

 


Edited by vtfiver - 12/1/13 at 8:58am
post #5 of 87

Ok, I need to do this! 

 

a. Who you are-

I'm Erin, I have 3 boys (ages 8y, 5.5y, and 18mo) We homeschool & I work 1 day a week cleaning houses & occasionally babysit.

 

b. Where you are going (your financial goals)-

I want to stay within budget & preferably save a little

 

c. How you plan to get there-

Stay on top of meal planning & food budget

Stay at home & no driving 3x a week

Only buy the gifts I plan on buying (kids are done, except for a couple stocking stuffers)

Try and go to mainly free holiday activities

Sell a few things online

 

 

:love no spending

:thumb budgeted spending

:p no driving/stay home

:( unplanned spending

 

sell things online $0/$100

 

Dec 1-:love

Dec 2-:thumb groceries $102 on groceries & advent candles 

Dec 3-:thumb groceries $72, baby wipes $20- Saved money today! We were planning on going to get a xmas tree, but instead found one in our yard! It's a little skimpy but the kids love it! Saved about $60 plus gas.

Dec 4

Dec 5


Edited by *green*faery* - 12/4/13 at 7:58am
post #6 of 87

*wave*

 

I'm a 30 year old SAHM/WAHM of 3.  We're currently trying to dig our way out of debt.  I think we can do it in a few months as long as we stay on track.  The holidays shouldn't be an issue; we're trying to keep them low-key anyway, plus we've already done our shopping.  We're focusing more on traditions and the spiritual meaning of the season.  Our biggest issues center on food - we buy (and waste :( ) too much of it.  And then I don't feel like cooking so we order food to the house or something.  Really trying to keep that to a minimum.

post #7 of 87
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by snow-rose View Post
 

Our biggest issues center on food - we buy (and waste :( ) too much of it.  And then I don't feel like cooking so we order food to the house or something.  Really trying to keep that to a minimum.

 

This is our biggest problem too. I struggle with it greatly, and I just feel awful when I throw away food. Stick with us for a few months and you'll probably find it getting better. I was pretty proud of how I managed last month. I only lost one chicken that made me feel terrible, and that was because when the packaging started getting puffy, I was afraid to cook it and eat it--so it may not have even been my fault! :lol Having to report in here every day made me feel more accountable, and it also reminded me to look and see what meal I had planned or what I had in the fridge/freezer/pantry that needed to be used up. It didn't happen right away, but eventually things started to improve. Last night my mom gave me the rest of their turkey (still with a ton of meat on it too!). That will be food for DH and the kids for a few meals, but I even cleaned off the frame and threw it in the crockpot--something I'v never done before because I don't like turkey all that much. But I'd rather eat it than let it go to waste, so tomorrow we'll be having turkey sweet potato stew for dinner (and probably the next day too!). 

 

Also, do you have a budget that you adhere to? We put everything on Mint.com a few months ago, and seeing the budget graph in front of me every day has really helped me curb our food spending. Mint is free, but even if you did something in Excel, that might help you visualize the spending better. Watching our "Outside Food" bar fill up makes it impossible for me to pretend we're doing fine with the budget!

 

Anyway, just thought I'd add my $0.02 since I've been struggling with the very same thing these past few months :D

post #8 of 87

Eager to record my first no spend of the month.

 

1  :throb No spend

 

Christmas Spending:

Gifts: $45.50/$400  

Junk: $44.50 tree lights/wrapping paper

post #9 of 87
I haven't tried Mint, but I have tried a budget spreadsheet.  On paper (er... monitor!) it looks so do-able.  But it's sticking to said budget that hurts...  And it's weird, whenever DH is doing good, I spend on something stupid.  Whenever I'm restrained, he wants to buy some electronic gadget.  Whenever we're BOTH doing good with reining in spending, the kids need something unexpected (like a growth spurt mid-season) or something in the house breaks.  We do have a cushion for emergencies but we just don't do well with sticking to even that budget.  Ugh, we're terrible.  I'm hoping this thread makes me more accountable, like you said!!  To that end, I'm not going to write down every penny to the cent, but I do want to come here every day and write up what's going on.

12/1:  Looked at all the Christmas decorations with the baby.  Enjoyed them without buying them, except for a small tree and lights and ornaments - $20 in all!  Resisted the urge to buy fast food or even go to the grocery store ahead of tomorrow's weekly run.  Spent $36 on craft materials for DD's kindergarten project as well as three stockings (they were $2 apiece but I should have probably just sewn some myself... drat.)  Spent $70 on photo print outs, but that's a once a year expense and covers Christmas presents as well as DD2's first year baby album book - AND it would have been $140 in all if not for the Black Friday weekend sale!!  So that was a win.
12/2 - dh had an eye appointment in town so we spent the day at the mall. This happens once every two years or so (the mall, that is). I spent about 50 on the baby and another 50 for my grandmothers present. 2 dollar pretzel. Then dh and I went out on a lunch date without the older two kids in tow, which should do it for this months eating out... Yeah, on the 2nd already!! We got half the price off because they messed up my order, but hey. Spent 100 on groceries too, and a dollar for a bagel for the girls to split between them while we shopped.
Edited by snow-rose - 12/2/13 at 1:06pm
post #10 of 87

Who you are

 

Ruth, mama to 4 kids and my hard working husband. 

 

Where you are going (your financial goals)

 

We are saving for a down payment.   We have a third of it saved and need to kick it up a notch to get the rest. 

 

How you plan to get there

 

Eat at home, buy less of everything.  Challenging month though...holidays are here, the kids have a swim meet and dd is going to an out of town Science Olympics meet.  I have a funeral to attend and need to book plane tickets for my youngest son and myself.  Oi!  I am going to do my best and post here to keep accountable, but I am not expecting miracles.

 

 

:thumb budgeted

nono.gif not in the budget, stupid spending

 

December 1 -- :thumb groceries

December 2 -- :thumb took advantage of cyber Monday deals to pick up a couple of Christmas gifts, :thumb 17.64 supplies for school project

December 3

December 4

December 5

December 6

 

 

 

Grocery Tally:  103.51


Edited by Ruthiegirl - 12/3/13 at 8:03am
post #11 of 87
Thread Starter 

Yesterday: I spent quite a bit at Vitacost because they had a good Black Friday weekend sale, coupon, free shipping, and 4% back in ebates. I stocked up on the things we normally buy (coconut oil, Dr. Bronner's, my lotion and shampoo) plus a few new things I've been wanting to get (valerian root capsules). We actually haven't spent much on the personal care budget for the last few months, so we had the money to cover it. I also bought a few more Christmas gifts (also in the budget). No unbudgeted spending, woohoo!

 

Today: I bought DH's Christmas and birthday gifts (budgeted) and I spent $24 on fruit and veggies for dinner and snacks (budgeted). Otherwise, no unbudgeted spending!

 

Key: 

No unplanned/unbudgeted spending: thumb.gif

Unbudgeted spending: irked.gif

Ate at home all day: yummy.gif

----------------------

No-unbudgeted-spending days: 0/31

 

12/1: thumb.gif yummy.gif Stocking up at Vitacost: $171. Christmas gift: $35. All budgeted.

12/2: thumb.gif yummy.gif DH's birthday and Christmas gifts: $300. Groceries: $24. All budgeted.

12/3:

12/4:


Edited by melissel - 12/2/13 at 3:29pm
post #12 of 87

I want to join!  I used to be in on a similar thread a year or two ago.  I am tealsmith83:

 

I am a 50 yr old, work outside the home mom to 13 yr old DS and wife to DH.

 

We are out of debt, but the eating out bug has been hard on the finances lately.  That is one of our biggest downfalls.  I want to get that reigned back in.

 

I feel like this thread will help me stay accountable.  If I have to count it as my daily spending, I will be less likely to do it.

 

:thumb = no spend/budgeted spend

nono.gif = unbudgeted spend/eating out unnecessarily

crochetsmilie.gif = crafted for the day  (trying to get some Christmas presents made!)

 

Dec. 1   nono.gif  Ate lunch at Subway after church

Dec. 2   :thumb  Ordered a few online Christmas presents, but that is budgeted  knit.gif

post #13 of 87

1  :throb No spend

2  shine.gif  Mixed day.  Planned spending.  :sip Bad timing = hot chocolate at the coffee shop.

 

I did, however, refrain from buying any coffee for myself.

 

More Christmas shopping planned today, and probably lunch out.  It's dd2's turn to come with me.  It's extra gas (I'm doing so much driving this week) but worth it so I have some together time with my youngest.  Tree hunting today as well.  Should be cheap-ish, and we live in Christmas Tree Land and have several farms in a short distance to find our own tree to cut for a reasonable price.  I have to drive an hour to the co-op for groceries, but the Christmas trees are just 10 minutes away.

 

Christmas Spending:

Gifts: $48/$400  

Junk: $44.50/ 19.50 gingerbread house candy (ouch)

post #14 of 87
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tealsmith83 View Post
 

I feel like this thread will help me stay accountable.  If I have to count it as my daily spending, I will be less likely to do it.

 

I can't tell you how many times I've thought to myself, "If I buy that, I'll have to report it on the no-spend thread and it will ruin my no-spend day!" It does actually help :laugh

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post
 

I did, however, refrain from buying any coffee for myself.

 

I discovered Amazon's Cyber Monday Kindle deals late last night, after I'd already reported in. There were some veeeeeery tempting books in there, but I remembered that I'd already posted and didn't want to have to come back and change my reporting!


Edited by melissel - 12/3/13 at 8:43am
post #15 of 87

It is amazing after doing this for more than a year how this thread does help in little ways.  It doesn't stop bad spending in its tracks, but does soften the blow and creates better habits.

post #16 of 87
Thread Starter 

Well, today was a win because it was no-spend, and because we're on track to actually use all the turkey and broth I had from my parents' Thanksgiving dinner (first time ever!). However, all of our recent Christmas transactions finally made it through to the Mint database, and I'm going to go over my Christmas budget :irked I'm so mad at myself. I definitely overbought for the kids, and I overspent on DH's gift (although it's something he really wanted and has mentioned repeatedly over the year, and he's a bit depressed so I feel like I need to make a splash for him), and a few other places. We're only going to go over by like $100, but still, I really had high hopes for keeping it under control this year, and for saving some of the budget for next Christmas. Honestly, I thought I'd over budgeted, AND I thought I was doing a good job keeping track of my spending *sigh* Very annoyed with myself today.

 

Key: 

No unplanned/unbudgeted spending: thumb.gif

Unbudgeted spending: irked.gif

Ate at home all day: yummy.gif

----------------------

No-unbudgeted-spending days: 0/31

 

12/1: thumb.gif yummy.gif Stocking up at Vitacost: $171. Christmas gift: $35. All budgeted.

12/2: thumb.gif yummy.gif DH's birthday and Christmas gifts: $300. Groceries: $24. All budgeted.

12/3: thumb.gif yummy.gif

12/4:

post #17 of 87

1  :throb No spend

2  shine.gif  Mixed day.  Planned spending.  :sip Bad timing = hot chocolate at the coffee shop: $8.

3  shine.gif Planned spending.  Took dd2 out to lunch: $12.

 

Christmas Spending:

Gifts: $85.50/$400  

Junk: $64/ $45 Christmas tree

post #18 of 87

Oh my, I have been BAD the last week and a half or so.  Really BAD, I tell you!  I'm trying really hard to figure out a balance, where I'm not being stingy, but I'm not just freely spending money on whatever I please.  I had decided I was gonna sit out the challenge this month, but I think I need to do it, even if I'm spending more than usual.  I still want to try to consolidate my spending.  As of right now, I think I'm gonna have a credit card balance at the end of the month for the first time in who knows how long.  I didn't put any money toward my student loans this month, I spent it all on random stuff for my house and Christmas gifts.  I'm not going to let myself regret any of the purchases I made, but I need to recommit to racking up some no spend days.  I think instead of recording actual amounts, I'm going to just record spend vs. no spend.  I would love to have half of this month be no spend days.  There is still some Christmas shopping I have left to do, so I'm going to try to consolidate that into days I'm already planning to spend money.  It will ensure that I'm really thinking about those purchases before I make them (instead of the impulse purchase insane land I've been in!)  Okay, here's where I'm at so far:  

 

12/1:  spending day

12/2:  :love no spend

12/3:  spending day

post #19 of 87

:thumb = no spend/budgeted spend

nono.gif = unbudgeted spend/eating out unnecessarily

crochetsmilie.gif = crafted for the day  (trying to get some Christmas presents made!)

 

Dec. 1   nono.gif  Ate lunch at Subway after church

Dec. 2   :thumb  Ordered a few online Christmas presents, but that is budgeted  knit.gif

Dec. 3   :thumb  No spend day!  Yay!  knit.gif (Cross-stitched until my eyes were almost crossed!)

post #20 of 87

12/1:  spending day

12/2:  :love no spend

12/3:  spending day

12/4:  :love no spend

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