A car wash, a manicure and sushi


Seems like an odd combination, doesn’t it?  What do these things have in common?  They are the things I did on March 1st, after we completed our “month of no spending.”  After 28 days of winter weather, the car was desperately in need of a wash.  It is too cold to do it outside, so I took the car to the local car wash on my way to work.  I don’t know if it made the car happy, but I was excited to be able to see the color of my vehicle again.

I made a rookie mistake when I got my nails done at the end of January…I picked a really vibrant pink color.  It was so pretty on day 1.  By day 28, it was chipped and grown out and impossible to hide because the color was so bright.  A 5:30 manicure appointment was vital to my emotional well being.

On the food front, I missed sushi so much.  I love the Newburgh Roll at Sakura, so we met our friends, Luke and Mary there for dinner that night.  Never has sushi tasted better. (The company was really good too!)

The cupboards are a lot barer, not empty, but manageable.  The boxes of instant oatmeal are now gone.  So are the miscellaneous boxes of crackers and varieties of boxed dehydrated potatoes I must have been saving for a zombie apocalypse.  The refrigerator was empty enough to do an easy shelf cleaning.  The expired salad dressings and restaurant condiments (why did we have these??) have been thrown out and it looks shiny and new, ready for a supply of fresh veggies and fruit. (By “easy shelf cleaning” she should have added “for my husband .”)

This “to do” certainly sparked a lot of interest.  Friends asked for updates often, usually following with an “I could never do that.”  A few were inspired to do their own modified version.  Some mentioned the idea to family members and were immediately told that they would NOT be doing something similar.  People often asked what I missed the most.  Definitely fresh fruit and veggies.  My friend Trudy treated me to a banana one day, and my friend Lisa dropped off an emergency supply of a few items toward the end.  I have never been so excited to see onion soup mix before.

As I check each item off my list and sit down to write the blog, I try to take a few minutes to think about what I learned from the experience.  As strange as this may sound, this “to do” has really had an impact on me.  We are now 23 days after completion, and I will tell you that I am now much more reluctant to spend money.  We haven’t wasted any leftovers since February 1.  I give serious thought to each item before it goes into the grocery cart.  Do I really need this?  Will we eat it before it goes bad? (We came close to eating meatloaf on a Friday during lent just so it didn’t go to waste.  Thank goodness she listened to my Catholic reasoning and saved our souls from eternal damnation.)  (For readers who don’t know us, this is a joke…we don’t really think anyone goes to hell for eating meat on a Friday during lent.)
Not to get too preachy but the exercise made me really think about the plight of homeless people and those with economic challenges. I know there is a school of thought that says not to give homeless people cash because they might spend it on drugs or alcohol.  But shouldn’t they be given the dignity to choose what they want to spend money on, what they want to eat that day?  What if they are really craving fresh fruit?

If you had asked me on January 31st, I would have guessed I would want to go on a gigantic grocery shopping spree and make a serious trip to the mall at the end of February.  Don’t get me wrong, I was very excited to be able to pop into the grocery, but I am very intrigued with the change in my attitude toward spending.  I decided not to turn the gym membership back on.  It is nice enough outside to walk for exercise.  I am not turning Audible back on until I have listened to the 159 hours of books I already have downloaded (that is not a made-up number, it is the real number of hours I have downloaded and not listened to.)  I will say, however, that I am not going to skip haircuts in the future.  My hair is a mess!

People have asked if I would do it again.  I haven’t told the fam yet, but I am thinking about trying it again this summer when we have vegetables in the garden.  And I might do it again next February.  It is a nice way to recover from the overspending most of us tend to do over Christmas.  And, after all, it is only 28 days. (Slow down there Sparky!!!!)

As always, notes from the editor/Paul are in red.

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!