Inspired by a recent article, several Credit.com staffers are tracking their own personal spending freeze on social media. You can follow their progress as they stop spending and start preparing for the holidays using the hashtag #spendingfreeze on Facebook and Twitter. We’ll also be updating our readers weekly with our insights and struggles on the blog — this is our second update.
Gerri Detweiler, Director of Consumer Education
Advice: If you are on a spending freeze do not go to the brand new mall that just opened 3 miles from your home. I did, and it resulted in a spending freeze fail. I hadn’t planned on shopping at all, but my daughter let me know on Friday afternoon that she didn’t have shoes to wear to her homecoming dance the next night. She was wearing a dress that she had worn a couple of years before, but we hadn’t thought about shoes and neither of us had any clue what shoes she wore previously. None in either of our closets worked.
So a few hours before the dance we were at the mall frantically looking for a pair of shoes for her. We found them at Aldo, where they were running sales (of course) that included markdowns on handbags. I couldn’t care less about shoes, but I saw a lovely plum bag that was calling my name. It was on sale, and I bought it knowing full well I’d have to report my lack of willpower. It wasn’t too big a setback, though. With the discount, I still paid less than $30. With her shoes the total was $75.
Bev O’Shea, Editor
The novelty wore off … and it was my birthday, and I felt entitled to spend a little. I had lunch with a friend ($12.50), and an errand to buy some things my son needed turned into seeing a couple of things for me and at really good prices (less than $10). We ordered new but inexpensive smartphones. And cases. (We’ve had a $40-a-month plan, and phones that wouldn’t reliably send SMS messages, which, it turns out, makes two-step verification impossible.) That was $221. So those are my excuses/justifications. The unplanned expenditures were within my means but well outside my good intentions.
But we are doing some things right: We have been eating at home, and there are leftovers in the refrigerator. Eating at home generates a lot more dirty dishes, I notice. We skipped Friday take-out burritos. What helped: knowing exactly what we were having for dinner already and having it in the front of the refrigerator.
And I’m realizing it’s not all or nothing. Even if it only delays some spending, there is money saved in going longer between hair color or dinners out. When I do spend, I am more carefully watching prices and weighing saving on one thing to spend more on another, particularly at the grocery store. (Finding k-cups on sale with stackable coupons, free shipping and cash back was positively thrilling.) What I’m not cutting back on: health/fitness.
Kali Geldis, Editorial Director
Some people like to buy new shoes, others will go on video game and gadget binges, but for me, the local pharmacy is where I lose all spending control. That’s right — the local Duane Reade, CVS or Walgreens is where I can spend close to $100 (and on rare occasions, more) without thinking twice about it. It’s an addiction, and last week I relapsed.
For the most part, the spending freeze has been relatively easy for me. It helps that my birthday was this weekend, which meant my awesome friends offered to pay for drinks/coffee/brunch as a gift (thanks, guys!). But last Wednesday, I went down the shame spiral that is the cosmetics aisle at my local drugstore. And I broke the #spendingfreeze challenge. Whitening strips, a new liquid foundation, mini shampoo and conditioners for an upcoming flight (gotta follow those 3.4-oz. limits for carry-ons!), a special thickening shampoo and conditioner for my regular day-to-day (I was about the run out — it was a necessity), and a new mascara (also running low) were in my basket before I knew it.
The grand total was way too high, but I paid it. The public shaming that’s sure to follow from my drugstore addiction will hopefully inspire me to limit my toiletry purchases in the future. I wonder if anyone else has a store aisle that is their weakness — tweet with #spendingfreeze and share it!
Christine DiGangi, Reporter & Editor
Going into the second week of this spending freeze, I knew I had to focus on food costs. The idea was to spend no more than $15 a day on food or groceries, but anything we didn’t spend would roll over, potentially allowing my husband and me to go out one night, if we wanted to. That worked pretty well, probably because we had each other to hold ourselves accountable.
Where I Saved
- We stayed in to watch football this week (that cost us last week).
- We made all but two meals from things we had in the house already.
- We stuck to our no-shopping rule — we even returned something we bought a few weeks ago, so we have a refund coming.
- I rode my bike to work and around on errands to save on train fare.
Where I Splurged
- I didn’t know it was coming ahead of time, but our Amazon Prime membership auto-renewed last week. At least my husband is in grad school, so we get the lower student rate.
- I paid $15 for parking for an event, but it was my best option.
- Our anniversary was this week, so we had a night out. We tried to cut back on other spending even more as a result, but it still put us a little over budget.
- We may have saved by staying in all week, but we ordered in dinner Sunday. At least the leftovers will last us another night.
I’m feeling pretty good going into the final week, but I know I’ll need to buy some stuff for Halloween costumes. I’ll be scouring the Internet for coupons this week.
Kim Como, Manager of Media Partnerships
Another week down, another notch tighter in the financial belt …well sort of.
I said NO a lot more this week, taking a page from Christine DiGangi’s “spending freeze” book and deleting all emails from any of my favorite stores that made their way into my inbox, no matter how tempting their offers were … and let me just say “50% off PLUS Free Shipping” is VERY tempting!
I said NO to milkshakes, ice cream, and all outside treats for my kids, opting for homemade goodies instead; and I said NO to myself, driving past my beloved Dunkin’ Donuts and choosing to make coffee at home.
But I did have some setbacks, as it seemed I was hit up three different times (in the same week) at my son’s school:
- $10 for the “classroom fund”
- $2 for a breast cancer fundraiser
- and $5 for the upcoming Halloween party
It’s on days like this, that I truly feel I should change my name from MOM to ATM!
Overall, feeling proud of the small victories — bring on next week.
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