No Spend February Update

No Spend February Update

I am a little more than halfway through my month of no spending.  To remind you of the rules, I am paying required bills like utilities but am not going to the grocery store and have tried to eliminate discretionary spending.  I am not eating out without a gift certificate.  No haircut or manicures.  Gym membership, Audible membership and some premium cable channels cancelled.  (The kids threatened a revolt if certain channels were removed.)  I am trying to keep driving to a minimum.  Here is a summary of the first 14 days.  Notes from the editor/Paul are in red.

Exceptions I have made so far:

  • My nephew was on homecoming court (Congrats Aidan!) so I paid admission

into a high school basketball game                                                                                           $5

  • My niece played in the IHSAA Girls Basketball

Regional (Go Adi and the NE Dubois Jeeps!).  I

drove to and from the game, two hours away,

which meant extra gas.                                                                                  Approximately $20

  • I bought Turbo Tax to do our tax return                                                                      $70


  • Paul bought hamburger patties to take to a family event                                           $18

(She caught me at the grocery store.  I never knew grocery shopping could cause so much shame!)

Things we are out of:

  • Seasoning salt (How is a guy supposed to cook without spices??!!)
  • Lipton Onion Soup Mix (The roast was a disappointment)
  • Fresh fruit
  • Bread
  • Milk expires tomorrow (Thank goodness I like my coffee black)


Things I miss:

  • Fresh vegetables
  • The church fish fry
  • Chips (Thank you Ryan and Ali for the emergency bag of corn chips)
  • Bananas and grapes


Things I am doing on March 1:

  • Taking my car to the car wash
  • Getting a manicure
  • Grocery shopping
  • Eating sushi
refrigerator mid month
Starting to look a little bare

As you can see, the refrigerator is starting to look a little bare.  We have made a slight dent in the supply of canned goods in the pantry.

pantry mid month

Cooking dinner is a little less exciting but conversations about what to make have certainly been interesting.  “Why and when did we buy stove top stuffing?”  “Is the expiration date on the can a suggestion or a hard deadline?”  “Why do we have 6 different kinds of vinegar?” 

Next weekend is going to be a bit of a challenge as we are attending a family carry in.  We spent 15 minutes brainstorming what we might have to take along.  (Dear family, we hope you like beer bread and pasta salad.)

So far I would say it has been kind of fun to limit ourselves.  But is it also not that difficult to make sacrifices when you know something only lasts 28 days.  (I am bored with saltine crackers and popcorn for snacks.  Something stronger than beer may be necessary to get me through!)  We are over half way through…hoping for a very clean pantry on the 28th.

At last inventory  I still have two onions left. I have been rationing them like they were my last cup of water, while walking across death valley, in a parka and mukluks, in the middle of August!

Planning Ahead, Hopefully Really Far Ahead

When I first came up with the idea of doing 52 things, I brainstormed ideas of things to do with a few close friends; my college roommate/soul sister Julie, my dear friend Kathy, and my awesome co-worker Laura.  They had some really great ideas; surfing, some soon to be discovered restaurants, and a historical tour were all ideas they added to the list.  One of them (I don’t remember exactly which one) also suggested the super fun idea of preplanning my funeral.

When I added it to the list, I thought it was actually a really promising idea.  It was something practical.  It was something free, so I could/should do it in February in conjunction with the “not spend any money in a month” to do.  It is something helpful.  Who hasn’t heard stories of someone passing away and their family having no idea of the desires of the recently deceased?  And who wants to leave their family with the burden of trying to read their mind when they are grieving?  I also thought it made sense to do the planning now, while I am youngish and healthy. No emotion tied to the planning, right?

My brain rarely shuts off.  I keep a notebook next to my bed, because I often come up with solutions to issues in my sleep.  The minute my eyes pop open in the morning, I have a thought of something I NEED to talk to Paul about.  Like, right now, can’t wait another second for the words to come out.  Paul, while he likes to wake up earlier than I do, prefers to awaken in quiet, not a barrage of questions.  I think he would really prefer no conversation before 7:00am and not before he has had a cup of coffee and watched a nature show. So, you can imagine the little ball of sunshine I have been this week in the morning.

Monday, 6:30 am

Me:  “Paul, when I die, I really think I want to be in a mausoleum.” 

Paul: “Uh, why are we talking about this?”

Me: “Remember, this is funeral preplan week on the 52 to do list?”

Paul: “Ok”

I am not sure if the OK was “OK, I remember now that this is what you are doing this week” or “OK, we can be buried in a mausoleum” but I am going to go with option 2.


Tuesday, 6:00am

Me: “Paul, when I die, I really want person1 to give my eulogy.”

Paul: “OK, I also think person2 would be a good idea.

Me:  “I thought about that too. Great idea!”

See how awesome my husband is!  He is contributing to my funeral planning.


Wednesday, 5:30am

Me: “Are you getting up with the dog this morning?  Also, I only want upbeat songs at my funeral.”

Paul: “Who had the idea to get a puppy?  And if you play On Eagles Wings at my funeral I will haunt you.”

Now we are not only planning my funeral, we are planning his too.  This is so efficient!


Thursday, 4:30am

Me: “Oh my gosh, why is the dog up at 4:30 am!!??  Oh, and when I die, remember I hate carnations.  I mean it, do not put carnations in the flowers on top of the casket!”

Paul:  “Enough with the when I die!”

So, I think this topic is starting to not be so much fun for Paul??


Friday, 4:00am, dog whining, barking, clawing at kennel

Me: “Paul?”

Paul: Hand on my mouth and pillow over his ears

I think we are finished with the conversation about my funeral.


While our early morning conversations hammered out a few crucial details like the flowers, there really are a lot of decisions to be made.  And it really isn’t easy to make those decision in a vacuum. Where I want to be buried today probably isn’t the same place I want to be buried if I die 40 years from now, like I hope to.  The scriptures I would select to comfort my family if I die young and healthy are probably not the same scriptures I would pick if I die older or after a lengthy illness.  Who knows where we will be living when we die?  We might move to wherever our kids are living when we retire.  Heck, we might move in with our kids when we retire (just kidding Alexander and Bailey).

And while I thought preplanning when death is not imminent would be emotionless, it really wasn’t.  I spent an hour reviewing lyrics and listening to performances of songs I thought I wanted.  My eyes kept leaking.  As I read through scriptures, my mind wandered to funerals of family and friends, and my eyes started leaking again.

I did prepare a document that outlines what I think I want, at least as of today. I explained the joyful and hope filled service I want.   I selected songs and scriptures. I drafted my obituary.  All of this will go in a safe place, hopefully to be revised many times over the coming years with changes in our lives and in our family.  Optimistically, my family won’t read it for many, many years.

As I started writing this post, I got to thinking about death and dying and then about life.  And while doing this preplanning was certainly a good exercise and something that might make my passing a little easier on my family, I think the real value in this “to do” was a time to reflect on my life.  What do I want my life to have meant?  Are there things I really want to accomplish while I can and what is my plan to make those things happen?  What do I hope I have taught my children?  Do those I love know how much I love them?

Over a decade ago, I lost a really wonderful friend, Linda, to cancer.  On her next birthday, I took flowers to her grave.  As I sat inside the mausoleum building talking to her in heaven, it struck me that I never sent her flowers for her birthday while she was alive.  When this thought hit me, it was like a gut punch.  I was so regretful and am to this day.  My point is, while we need to plan for our deaths, we need to LIVE, GIVE and LOVE while we are alive.  So pick something on your “to do” list and do it this week or this year.  Plan that trip, eat on the china, send flowers to a friend.

Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows. Pope Paul VI

On to happier topics next time,



The Shortest Month

February is a bit of a challenge. 4 weeks means I need to take care of 4 items on my to do list.  However, one of the items on my list is to spend no money for a month.  This means I have to be pretty strategic with the other goals I try to accomplish this month.  My motivation for this “to do” came from an article I read online a year or two ago.  I really wish I could find the original article but I will summarize.  A young adult, living in New York City, pledged to buy nothing for a year. Regular bills like rent and utilities would be paid but nothing would be paid for new items like shopping, dining out, and groceries.  I was amazed at the lengths this person went to.  Gifts were hand-made, food was grown or acquired from dumpsters of nearby restaurants and bartering was necessary if something new was absolutely necessary.

I know myself well enough t to know I can’t do this for a year, but I wanted to try it for a month.  To make this a little easier, I selected the shortest month of the year.  Here are my ground rules:

Obviously, utilities and other required bills have to be paid.

I cancelled the following:

  • Audible
  • Starz
  • Gym membership
  • Hair appointment
  • Nail appointments

I can only eat out if I already have a gift certificate for a restaurant (in anticipation of this activity, I asked for gift certificates to a few places for Christmas gifts last year.)

No grocery shopping.  Paul and I were very deliberate with our final grocery shopping trip of January. We spent $75 on food and another $50 on toiletries/paper goods/adult beverages. We purchased A LOT  of canned vegetables.  We do have an advantage as we butcher our own meat so we have a freezer full of beef and pork.  This means our $125 at the grocery store can go a pretty long way.

Driving will be kept to a minimum.  We filled both cars on the 31st of January and I am hoping to go two weeks without filling up again.

Wish me luck as we see how frugal we can be.  I am excited to clean out the freezers and the pantry of items that we just never seem to cook.  I am curious to see how much money I can save in a month.  I wonder how many “necessities” I give up in February will be permanent, once I realize I really don’t need them.  I will update you at the end of the month to let you know it it goes.

Note from the editor/Paul: It is day 4.  We are already out of chips, only have two onions left and are running low on bread.  Send beer!

grocery cart
Groceries to last a month-notice the essentials (like Diet Coke)