Friday, October 9, 2009

No Spend Days and The Gifts of Time and Creativity!

Something I used to do to great success and am looking forward to restarting is to have four no spend days each week. I've found when I set aside three or four days with the commitment not to spend a single cent, I give myself two gifts. First is the gift of time - no driving time to a store, no parking time, no shopping time, no waiting in line time, no ATM stop for cash time, no getting back out to my car and driving home time and all that added up tends to be significant.

The second gift is the gift of creativity born from necessity. Since I don't draw, paint, play a musical instrument, dance or sing, I find my frugality is a lovely builder of ingenuity or inventiveness.

First off, when I make myself keep a running list for a week or so before spending, I usually manage to get all the errands packed into one day. As a result, I plan my route and am MUCH more efficient with my time. And as I've had a week to plan the list, I'm much less likely to forget something that really is needed. If I didn't notice we were running low on toilet paper Monday, likely by Wednesday, this has caught my or Greg's notice;-).

And on that day of shopping, if I've paid cash and spent the time needed for a $23 oil change with the early bird discount, then spent $98 at the grocery store and $68 at Walmart, $38 to fill up with gas, and $12 for a haircut at Cost Cutters, I find my old habits of browsing at a thrift or book store for "fun" sounds so insane in the moment, that I tend to drive home, unpack all this stuff, and be glad it's at least four days before I can spend money again.

In addition, necessity really is the mother of invention. I ran out of eggs long ago and did an internet search which taught me I could substitute a 1/4 cup of applesauce (which costs less than half the price of an organic egg). I've not had a birthday card or birthday gift on the day needed and used my nicest stationary to write a letter in lieu of a card and baked applesauce bread as a present. I've wanted a new outfit for a special event, then looked through INSTYLE magazine until I saw an idea that used some of what I already had. All of these brought me quite a bit of fun and cost far less in time and money than traditional shopping.

So I've cleared the weekend of spending and tonight filled up with gas and packed snacks as we're going to my parents. This will be my send off weekend to get back into four no spend days a week (made easier by being able to mooch food and supplies off mom and dad;-).

If it works with your schedule to try this for a few weeks, you might find it very helpful. And just when you're sure you MUST break your promise and run to the store, remember your great-grandma probably made it to a store once a month and she's looking down at you encouragingly, saying, "Honey, do you REALLY need that??;-).

P.S. This picture, which I treasure, is of my husband Greg's maternal grandma as an infant, being held by her mom, with her grandma to her left, her great-grandma in the lower left corner and her great-great Grandma seated just below her. Two days after the photo was taken, the great-great Grandma died.


  1. Eileen,
    Your husband is blessed to have a picture of his past generations of grandmothers. My hubby's grandmother will be celebrating her 94th birthday this year. We were able to take a 5 generation picture last year with our grandson. What a gift it will be for him in the future :)

  2. Sib, I know how lucky we are to have this photo, and how WONDERFUL you will have one with your grandson - a true family keepsake! Eileen