April was a gorgeous month! A month full of 5Ks and getting the hang of biking to work. It was also a month of house projects. What it hasn’t been a month of is buying stuff!
Last month I declared April was Buy Nothing Month for our family. That meant everything but gas, groceries, and small home repair items was off-limits.
There were a few times this month that I thought I might have to give in and purchase something. I figured out ways to get by though. I started a list on the fridge whenever something popped in my head that I wanted or “needed” to buy. All these purchases could be delayed a month and reevaluated.
I started biking to work for the first time this month, which has been a major goal of mine. With the bike commute, I found myself craving little pieces of gear I didn’t have. I’d like some actual bike gloves and goggles for instance…but I made it work this month with borrowed safety glasses and work gloves! Functionality over fashion, right folks?
So What Did We Buy?
Here’s what we bought that wasn’t gas or food:
- $17 on pray paint, caulk, and weatherproof tape for house roof project – technically exempt because we knew this project was coming.
We had the caps made by a custom online seller. I spray painted them to match the house and Josh and his friend installed them! We got a quote from some roofers for this project at $850. We were able to purchase these caps and install them ourselves for just under $200!
- $3.03 on some mousetraps – also a thing we deal with in this house sometimes…
- $3.99 on a company lunch out for Josh – affordable but it’s technically not groceries so it’s included.
- $18 on beer for the month – yes, I started buying alcohol again. More on that decision here. Does this count as groceries? I’ll let you decide…
What We Didn’t Buy:
There were lots of little things that I wanted but resisted. A bigger SD card for my HD videos, the aforementioned cycling gloves and glasses, cycling shorts, a clothesline and clothespins, potting soil, needle-nose pliers, houseplants, and running shoes (which I’m still resisting! Hoping to make it till the end of my clothes-shopping ban in June!) My frugal mantra has been: Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.
Some things are necessities, of course! But none came up this month except those random mouse traps. We didn’t run out of disposable diapers (our kids use one a day for overnight), toothpaste, TP, or anything else that would have been allowed other than gas or groceries. We probably just got lucky!
This was honestly one of our easier monthly challenges. We’ve already gotten pretty used to not buying things impulsively, so doing it for a month wasn’t that hard. I made a list of things I wanted to buy, and if I still needed them when the month was out, I was allowed to get them. Not going to the store is actually easier than going to the store. Sometimes minimalism and frugality aren’t a sacrifice after all! Unlike our grocery challenge, sugar challenge, and phone challenge, I wasn’t counting down the days for this month to end. It’s freeing to realize that I don’t really need anything. I don’t need to run to the store for every whim that enters my mind.
We Didn’t Just Sit Around
We still got out, even if it wasn’t to go shopping. We went to the library, the grocery store, to church, to friends houses, to the botanical gardens, to parks, and to work. I biked to work several times, utilizing the gorgeous weather we had this month! Shopping doesn’t need to be a recreational activity. There’s many better recreational activities out there!
We also weren’t so frugal that we forgot to give! We saved money by not spending this month, but we did do things like run the Rush 5K to benefit a great charity, and we still gave gifts. This whole thing is about discipline and priorities. Not spending on ourselves so we can give to more important things. The goal is not to hoard and be miserly with our savings.
I made the goal to run at least two 5Ks this year, one for fun and one for speed. This month I did both the Color Run for fun and the Rush 5K for speed. Josh and I both set personal records on the Rush 5K (my time was 23.51 minutes, nearly a minute less than my previous PR!) And we both won 1st place in our age divisions. So I’m pleased with how both runs went – the fun one was very fun and we met our goals on the speedy run.
What We Learned From Not Shopping:
- Not buying things is pretty easy – at least for us since we broke the shopping habit.
- Writing things down and saving them for later helps us evaluate what we truly need.
- Borrowing / sharing stuff is awesome when it can prevent a purchase.
- Sometimes you need to spend money, like we did on our house, to prevent further costs from accruing.
- The best things in life are free – fresh air, sunshine, and time together. Cheesy, but so true!
- It’s way more fun and rewarding to give money away (and support charities by running) than it is to buy unnecessary stuff for ourselves.
What did you buy this month? How much of it was truly a necessity? If you participated in this challenge, what did you take away from the experience?
Admirable in its way, but this is such a middle-class, American view of frugality.
I’m aware that I’m coming from a middle class American context. But nevertheless I strive to challenge the norms within my context, and hopefully inspire my peers. Check out my post on privilege if you haven’t already: https://emilysfilms.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/minimalism-is-a-privilege/