Buy Nothing Challenge Update

My first update on how the Buy Nothing Challenge has been going! I have decided not to buy anything for a whole year.

It was hard. There have been times when I really wanted to buy something, but I have avoided temptations for the most part. I had to go to Michigan on work, and forgot to take any hats. It was cold (ok, I am used to the cold, but I usually have a hat when it is cold!) and I came really really close to buying one. If I had noticed a shop while I was busy shivering, I may have given in. But the key part is, I didn’t.

A hat wasn’t the only thing I forgot. I forgot to pack socks. This is not the first time I have forgotten to pack socks. I usually just get new ones when I do. Which is probably why I have more socks than anything else 🙂 Since I had the one pair I was wearing, and I was there only for three nights, I thought I could manage. I don’t sweat much, and it was cold. However after wearing it for two days straight it felt so odd. So I washed it. And dried it by first wrapping it up in a bath towel for a while, and then leaving it alone overnight. If it hadn’t dried fine, I would have whipped out the hair dryer. But I didn’t have to.

Another expense I avoided was buying a plant. We have a huge window that is next to the dining table, and I had got into this habit of buying a small rose plant to put on that every now and then. I never took proper care of it, and it always died quickly. Since it was $5 for a new one, I normally don’t bother too much. I just get another plant the next time I go to Trader Joe’s. Not this time! I now have an empty window sill that reminds me of the days when I could buy stuff.

I normally like going to shops and looking at pretty things. That joy is now gone. I don’t normally buy a lot of things, but just knowing that I could buy if I liked something was powerful. I haven’t stepped into a shop for browsing this past few weeks.

Confession Time!

There are two things that I did spend money on –

I enrolled in an online course to make my pinterest images better. To be honest, I enrolled for this before I started this challenge. If you have noticed that my images look better, all of the credit goes to the Perfect Pin course by BreakingTheOnePercent. If you are a blogger, I definitely recommend it. I have even started using some of the tips to make my work presentations look better 🙂

My second expense was signing up for Tailwind. It makes it so much easier for me to pin my content onto different boards. Turns out, no one else looks at Pinterest at 3:30 in the morning. Tailwind helps me schedule them at all unholy hours and make it look like I am pinning it when people actually see what is going on. I saved $15 by using an affiliate link. That link I have included is an affiliate link too. It will cut $15 off your price if you use that link. Again, if you are a blogger, I definitely recommend it. I finally have a few people coming here via Pinterest.

January 2018 Expenses

I made a budget this year – for the first time in my life. And I have been busy trying to not follow it. I wrote all about it here – Our expenses are over budgeted. May be I will do a better job next year.

That is not the only mistake I made. I got some of the estimates wrong, and I totally forgot about some of the categories. I wonder how many other people make mistakes like these. Luckily for me, I had an “everything else” category. So for now, whenever I add new expenses, I am deducting from that catch-all one. Here is our modified budget for this year.

Revised Budget

I have highlighted (in yellow) all the entries that I had to change from when I first made the budget.

I had forgotten completely about pest control (line 15). We live near some woods, and had some mice when we first moved in. I haven’t seen any for a while now, and may cancel that service. I can always call them again if I see more. But for now, I added in that since we are still under contract, and it costs about $500 per year.

I added a new line for blog expenses(line 23). To be honest, I hope to bring down the expenses to a zero sometime. Blogs are supposed to earn you money, not drain it. However, as of now, I have made all of $13.84 via the ads here although I can’t actually get it until I have accumulated $100. All the money I spent on getting the tailwind subscription and learning about making the perfect pins, I paid out of my pocket. I have also started writing for Blogmutt. It doesn’t really pay that much, but I have now realized that I love writing. May be it will pay enough to bring my blog expenses to zero. Anything here is what I spent on my blogs on top of what I make through any side hustles.

I reduced the “everything else” category(line 24) to fit in all these extra things I thought of after my budget/expenses post. It went from $10,000 to $7,000.

BusyDad goes to a gym near his work. And it is paid for directly before the money hits the bank. I added “gym-2” to include this amount (line 25). I also changed the Car Insurance row (line 27) to now include home insurance as well, and it is now $3000 (instead of $2000) since I had forgotten about home insurance altogether.

We never tracked the cash back we get from different credit cards, etc. So I included a row (line 29) to track that. It will be interesting to see how much this adds up to.

Is our target enough?

Our goal is to spend $40,000 a year in retirement.

Line 4 has the totals ($3709.80 for January 2018), and shows our entire expenditure. Part of this will go away in retirement. We will not have a mortgage, and will move to a less expensive place (no $9000 property tax) in a few more years. We will also not spend on a cleaning service (line 7) or childcare (line 6).

The ones marked in light red (pink?) are the ones where we spent more than what we should have. Some of that is because the payments occur once in a few months. The insurance and medical went above what I first budgeted, because I had not really looked at the payslip, and had made approximate guesses. They are here to stay.

Tracking on Mint

I also added line 3 to add up the expenses that mint sees (lines 5-24). In the previous years, this would come upto $40,000 for the whole year. I have budgeted $51,645 and hope not to hit that number. Everything from lines 25-28 comes out directly from our pays before the amount hits our bank accounts.

Our expenses this month has been pretty normal. Except for my blog expenses, everything has been typical.


The one number I would like to bring down is what we spend on food. I think that $815 for three people is a bit excessive.

What do you think about our expenses? Where do you think we are doing a good job, and where can we improve?

Here are our expense reports from other months:

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Friday, Dec 2, 2022