What Happened When We Stopped Spending Money for a Whole Week

Remember 7th grade and the science experiments?

Ah, good times. Well, today I’m not going to make you dissect a frog. We’ll be looking at more of a monetary experiment.

Just a few more days till the end of the month, right? I’ll get paid and we’ll have a little more breathing room in the budget.

You see, Mrs. PT and I have been saving aggressively over the past few months for some upcoming goals. We do our saving automatically, a few days after we get paid. That way we have the rest of the month to spend the remaining funds on whatever.

This month, however, our aggressive saving and spending finally got the best of us. Now we’re running a bit low. So, instead of dipping into our savings or using debt, we are challenging ourselves to not spend any money this week.

This month our aggressive saving and spending finally got the best of us. Now we're running a bit low. So, instead of dipping into our savings or using debt, we are challenging ourselves to not spend any money this week.

One exception: If we make extra money by selling something or by returning something and getting a refund we get to use that money however we like.

Because of the exception above, I made some moves over the weekend. I grabbed a few items around the house that we didn’t need anymore and listed them on Craigslist.org. Two have sold so far, giving us $38 dollars.

We also brought some of our old clothes by a consignment store, which gave us an additional $10. That’s almost $50 to spend this week without having to dip into savings. And if a few more items sell, we’ll have even more cash. Sweet!

More thoughts going into this week:

  1. I don’t pretend to think that this is going to be easy. We’ve gotten into the habit of spending when we feel like it. Especially dining out for lunch or dinner. So, believe it or not we normally spend a lot more than $50 on food in a week. It’s our biggest frivolous expense, you could say. Plus, we have all the other normal expenses to avoid: groceries, personal care, and convenience items. Although, I think the groceries will be easy since we have so much in our cupboard already.
  2. I know some of you guys are a lot smarter with your spending, do this sort of thing all the time, and are probably laughing at me right now.
  3. Hopefully we can do it successfully and get more in tune with our needs vs wants. I see it as a chance to get back to the basics.

I’ll report back on Friday and let you know how we did.

If you’d like to take on this experiment with me, let me know in the comments below. You can also follow along on Twitter for more timely updates.

If you’re tweeting too, use the hashtag #weekwithoutspending

Tips to Avoid Excessive Spending

Besides prayers for contentment, here are some things we (and you) can do to help abstain from excess spending:

  1. Turn off the TV and hide the magazines to avoid the tempting advertising.
  2. Take your credit/debit cards out of your wallet and place them in your home safe for a while.
  3. Find entertainment from the things you already have (e.g. old movies or board/card games).
  4. Have a “clean the cupboard” meals-only week (i.e. eat at at home till the cupboard is bare).
  5. Spend more time reading or blogging.
  6. Go to the park instead of the mall.
  7. Go to the library instead of the bookstore.

Got any other tips?  Please share them in the comments below.

Results of Our No Spend Week

The “Week Without Spending” officially ended on Friday eve. Today I’m sharing the results of our little experiment.

In case you missed it, last Monday I shared that Mrs. PT and I were doing a week without spending (Sunday though Friday) to help us stay on track with our saving and help reduce some of the clutter in the house and food in the cupboards.

The only exception to the no spending rule was that if we earned extra money during the week we could use that as we pleased. So how’d we do?

Here are the actual results (in no particular order):

Beginning Balance$0
Craigslist Sales38
Consignment Shop10
PT's Return74
Mrs PT's Return16
PT's Tuesday Lunch(10)
Sunday Dinner(13)
Sunday Groceries(60)
Friday Dinner(3)
Christmas Cards(42)
BDay Card / Baby Clothes(7)
Ending Balance$3
  • I’d say it was a success! We actually made $3 at the end of the week.
  • The Christmas cards were a purchase we already had planned and due to a sale price ending during the week we decided to make the purchase this week rather than next. Excuses, excuses, I know.
  • The Craigslist sales and consignment shop money were quick money. As were the returns.
  • The dinner on Friday night was a feast at Boston Market. They were running a $1 dinner special.
  • We still have about $100 worth of items on Craigslist which hopefully will sell soon.

More thoughts about the week:

  • It wasn’t that hard to eat more meals from home, thanks to Mrs. PT creating some excellent meal choice for us throughout the week. This made the meals outside the home more special.
  • Making extra money to spend wasn’t that difficult. While there might not always be things to return on hand, there seems to always be something lying around that we could sell on Craigslist. We have a bunch of clutter.
  • The clothes consignment shop was easy money too. Although, the lady at the counter told me my styles (that didn’t sell) were “a bit dated.” I took that as a compliment and quickly dropped those items off at Goodwill.
  • It didn’t take much planning to prevent those impulse convenient items.
  • This is something we should do at least once a month. We really could use to do this sort of thing more often. Recently, we’d gotten lazy with our spending and we haven’t always made the conscious choice with our end goals in mind. This week helped us to be more aware about our spending and live more within our means.

So what do you think about our experiment results?

Last Edited: January 22, 2016 @ 12:02 amThe content of ptmoney.com is for general information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Visitors to ptmoney.com should not act upon the content or information without first seeking appropriate professional advice. In accordance with the latest FTC guidelines, we declare that we have a financial relationship with every company mentioned on this site.
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, financial writer, FinCon CEO, and husband and father of three. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. All the content on this blog is original, and created or edited by PT. Read more about Philip Taylor, and be sure to connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or view the Philip Taylor+ Google profile.

Comments

  1. How ironic you bring this up now. I was just thinking of trying a week of “Live like a broke college student”. Of course I just bought lunch today. Not off to a good start.

    I look forward to the end results of your experiment. 😉

    PS – I see you are only doing it til Friday. Does that mean you will make up for it on Saturday with Halloween paries looming?

  2. It means I get paid Friday and can “treat” myslef a bit, yes! 🙂

  3. I guess your credit card is already on the freezer, right? 🙂

    Saving X Spending is a mental game. Would be great to hear at the end of the week what psychological phases you went through, and how you dealt with them.

    Good luck!

  4. Wait — you were serious about that?!?!?

    Just kidding…I’m rocking the challenge.

    But what else would you expect? (Don’t answer that).

  5. I had never done this before, but I wanted to make a rather large purchase + did not have the extra funds (the purchase was definitely a WANT not a NEED). By means of a major purge I was able to exceed my $$ goal by selling unwanted + unused items on Craigslist + Ebay.

    Now we have less STUFF to deal with + with that extra $$ we went to Lowes + the Habitat Resale store for some home improvement/ winterizing items.