The Rules – Part 2

Last time I wrote about the things that I had decided were appropriate to spend money on for the year; now I’ll let you know what I’ve decided to NOT spend money on 😊.

1. Clothes and accessories:

By no means do I have a large wardrobe, but have you ever heard the saying that 80% of the time, we wear 20% of our clothes? That’s me…..I consistently wear clothes that are warm and comfortable, and with two small kiddos, this only got worse. I have lots of dresses designated for work, and I’m going to make an effort to wear them this year. As well, I have beautiful jewelry that I really need to not leave in boxes – it should be out sparkling!! My real obsession though – bags and purses. Nothing is designer, but I love new ones, and I have a collection you wouldn’t believe. There will be no more purchases, and lots of wearing what I have!

2. Media:

This is one big category for me; no books, audiobooks, newspapers, magazines, music or movies. I have more than enough to entertain myself between books I have purchased and not read on my bookshelves and e-reader, to my large music collection. I love podcasts, and most are available for free download. We cancelled cable in our house last year, and only have Netflix, but let’s be honest, you would never get through everything on there! I’ve cancelled my Audible membership and New York Times digital description. I have a subscription to Oprah magazine that was a gift, and a digital subscription to a magazine called ‘Simplify’ (oh, the irony?!). The library and I will be very good friends this year!

3. Quilt, sewing and craft supplies:

For those who know me, this category pains me to not buy anything for a year. The simple fact though is, I have so much stuff, I would NEVER use it all up. I have bins of fabric and patterns overflowing, paper crafts that have never been opened, knitting set aside because I just.couldn’… goes on and on. I’m a creative person, so I’m just going to make, make, make!

4. No ‘beauty’ products:

This is also a big category; no mani/pedis, waxing, cosmetics, nail polish, or ‘extra’ toiletries. Again, in my opinion I have so.much.stuff. that I just never seem to use, that I need to stop accumulating. To others, my minimalist cosmetics would make you scratch your head and wonder why I even worry about not purchasing for the year.  I’m a bit ‘granola’ (haha) and truthfully, I don’t LIKE to wear a lot of cosmetics. I’m always looking at alternative homemade options for basics. For instance, for years, I have not worn antiperspirant, I make a homemade version. I’m going to be using up, and then creating my own pampering products.

5. No bought gifts or cards:

Some may love this, others may not….but gifts will be homemade for the next year. This ties in with my creativity, and for most instances, I can make SOMETHING. It will force me to really think ahead and plan, and not rush out at the last minute to buy a gift, just because I think I should.

6. No eating out:

My husband and I don’t usually dine out, but I do eat out at work a lot, and it has to stop. At an average of $10 everyday, it’s getting too expensive. Anthony is UNBELIEVABLY good at making and taking his lunch, and I really need to do this. No excuses anymore.

There are two categories you’re probably wondering about; coffee and alcohol. I NEVER drink coffee, so this is an easy opt-out for me. As far as alcohol is concerned, I almost never drink. I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve had a drink in the last year. We have some alcohol in the house, if I have a drink over the next year it will be from this.

I think this sums up most things nicely, I’m sure as the year goes on, stuff will pop up and I’ll have to really think it through and decide if it’s worth it to purchase or not.

Is there anything that you think I missed on this list that you would include? What would you have the hardest time excluding from your purchases?


The Rules

While it wasn’t hard to decide on what I could or couldn’t spend money on over the next year, I still sat down and put pen to paper, making lists and discussing my choices with my husband, Anthony.

(I should clarify that for this challenge, Anth is aware, but I do not expect him to participate – this is my challenge for myself)

I’m happy with the boundaries that I’ve set for myself; I’m sure things may change, for better or worse as I grow over this year.

First, the things we are allowed to purchase:

1. Groceries – this will include for home and a small stash that I will keep at work. This will also include toiletries, cat food and litter, and diapering costs for the kids. Groceries have gotten incredibly expensive over the last couple of years in Canada, so I will be looking at ways to decrease our spending here.

2. The Cats – we have 4 cats, ranging from our oldest at 17 years of age, to three 7 year old fur kids. This will include vet bills if needed, and additional costs not included in the grocery bills.

3. The kiddos – we have a 3 year old and a 9 month old. While I try very hard to shop for clothing at reasonable prices, the 3 year old is currently wearing 5T clothes (he’s very tall for his age). The baby has been wearing his brother’s hand-me-downs, but they were born in different seasons; as they get older, it may (or may not) become a problem. This category will really be for clothes only, my goal is to not buy anymore toys for the year – more on this to come!

4. Health (supplements and physio) – this is an area that I’m not prepared to pare down on…..I struggle with my back physically, and I am fortunate enough to have insurance to cover the cost of alternative treatments. I do as much as I can at home – stretching, exercise and home therapy, but I do need help from professionals.

5. Hair – I sport a short ‘do’ that needs to be managed regularly. However, my cuts aren’t expensive since I do have short hair – bonus! As well, I’m am SUPER gray, and colour my own hair, but this is only needed once every 3months, so my estimate is less than $100 for the year (while I would easily pay this for one colour session in a salon!). I’ve often thought about letting myself go gray, but I don’t think I’m prepared to yet.

6. Car – my car will be paid off completely in April (I will be writing about this as well in future posts). I need a car where we live, and my mom is a 1.5hr drive away from me. I will be allowed gas and repairs, and unfortunately this year, I HAVE to get new tires. I will however in the summer be challenging myself to ride my bicycle to the train station for my commute to work to cut down on expenses there.

7. Trailer – last year, hubs and I bought a vacation mobile home in a trailer park. For years, he talked about wanting a cottage on a lake, so this is a very cheap compromise. We are going to really give it a go this year, and if we don’t love it, we’ll sell it. It came furnished, but there are things we still need for it. We will be taking as much as possible from our house so that we are not buying too much, but for instance, we will need pillows for the beds there. As well, after we bought it, we did find a couple of things that we will need to fix, so there are maintenance costs as well.

8. Postage – I know, I know, this is a weird category to add in. However, my mom and I regularly mail each other stuff, my best friend is also far from me, and as a hobby, I have penpals all over the world. I’ll keep it to a minimum, I’d rather give up other stuff than this.

9. Cell Phone – we no longer have a house phone, so this is a no brainer that I keep it. Mobile rates in Canada are disgustingly high, but I’ve been with my cell provider for years, and I truly would rather pay a little extra and continue with the great product and service I receive. I will NOT be replacing my phone though over the year as I believe my contract may be up for renewal – this would be a win for me on monthly costs.

10. Photographs – again, I know this is a weird category to include, but hear me out…..I have little kids, and I’m a bit old-school with photo albums for them. As well, I get prints run for my mom and my mother in-law. I’m not going to wait the whole year, and then print hundreds of dollars worth of photos.

11. Home – this has been an interesting category to talk about with Anth….we’ve decided on the following rules:

a. If something is broken, can it be left as is?

b. If something is broken, can we fix it without buying anything?

c. If something is broken, can we fix it with buying parts?

d. If something is broken, can we get it fixed professionally?

e. If no to any of the above, only then can it be replaced.

Otherwise, there will be NO purchases for the house, except for two areas; our living room curtains have now been used here for 11 years and were in two prior apartments of mine. We are painting our main floor, and it’s time for the curtains to go! The other area is landscaping – we live in a very nice neighbourhood, and we want our home to reflect that. We have some grass issues in the front yard that need to be fixed, we always have to spruce up our back lawn every year, and I am hoping all plants and flowers this year will be swapped and traded with family and friends, but there may be a purchase or two. This is a needed category that will be on a VERY tight budget.

12. Education – this is an area that I want to throw in here, but may or may not be used. I’d like to take some courses starting in May, but I’m not sure yet. I’m looking at doing on-line options so at least I would not have to travel or pay for parking.

13. Childcare – this is also a category that’s up in the air for us. I am currently on Maternity leave, and returning to work in June. We are hoping to keep the kids out of daycare, and costs to a minimum by hiring an AuPair. Having an AuPair means adding another person to our household expenses though, since they live with you full-time.

The last item that may or may not need to be addressed is our computer. We have only one computer in the house, and it is currently 7years old.

I’m going to leave it at that for now – next time, I’ll share with you what I plan on NOT spending money on over the year to come 😊.

Do you follow a strict budget? Are there any categories you think I’ve missed?


I’m sure many people will wonder why the challenge of a no-spend year appeals to me. I am grateful that my husband and I are not in debt, other than our mortgage, and we both have great jobs.  We are able to contribute regularly to our retirement funds, and our children’s RESP (Registered Education Savings Plan) is set up for them. Luckily, we are on the same page when it comes to finances.

Minimalism is very interesting to me though. The more I read about it, the more I get sucked down into ‘the rabbit hole’. When I travel for pleasure and work, I’m content with a small suitcase of belongings – it makes me wonder if the weight of belongings being left behind contributes to a feeling of less burden?

I have been trying to pare down our home, and as I go through closets and bookshelves, I’m surprised by the quantity. Did I really need to buy more fabric for a sewing project? Am I ever going to read that book? We live in a small house, and more often than not, I’m wishing for less possessions.

From a personal finance perspective, I always worry. I grew up in a house where money was not discussed, and I was often told it was none of my business. By the time I was 13, I had a job because if I wanted something, I had to pay for it myself. I did not have the financial means to attend university, but I put myself through college. While these helped me to become independent, I wish there had been lessons shared growing up.

Over the years, two tv shows were fascinating to me – “Til Debt Do Us Part” with Gail Vax-Oxlade – I loved her no-nonsense, tough love attitude. The second show was “Hoarders” – truthfully, because it simply made me not want to ever come close to accumulating that many possessions. It made me sad to hear stories of people who felt their belongings meant more to them than anything – more then their family, their health, their finances, and their well being. I believe the connection of finance and minimalism has always played in the back of my mind.

My goal (and the hubs!) is to pay the mortgage off in its entirety within the next five years. We’re not sure if we will stay where we currently live, but I think it’s a great goal to pursue.

On Friday, I’ll be revealing what I can and can’t spend money on during my no-spend year!

Did you grow up in a household where money was discussed? Does a minimalism lifestyle appeal to you?

My No-Spend Challenge

Wow, my first blog post 🙂

For years, I’ve been promising myself that I will start a blog. I’ve read blogs daily for a decade, following those on their journey, and I felt like I could relate to so many people.

For years though, I put it off for too many fears – fear of failing, fear of not writing something interesting, fear of cruelty on the internet, fear of not keeping up. My blog name came from realizing that it doesn’t have to be perfect right out of the gate; I can take small, steady steps to get there.

This year, I’ve decided to challenge myself both creatively and financially – this will be the Year of No-Spending.

My 43rd birthday is in April – and while I don’t feel like I’m 43, along with that number comes a period in my life where I’ve been asking myself “when is it all enough?” I’ve been reading a lot on minimalism, and other writers who have had no-spend time periods, and how enriched their life became from it. I look around my home, and the most important things to me are not things – they’re my husband, my children, and my furkids.

So, for my 43rd year on this planet, I’m going to challenge myself to a no-spend year. I’m sure it will be hard, and I’m working through the kinks – discussing and brainstorming what I will and won’t spend money on.

Have you ever had a time in your life where you realized that you have “enough”? Have you tried a no-spend year?