No Spend Month...A Few Things

I'm having a no spend July and all my blogging this month will be about managing the financial side of home life. I'm sharing what I'm learning and ideas about saving, spending wisely, and generally being responsible with our resources.


I have a confession. I bought something.

I have been stalking this GAP, 100% cotton open cardigan that has been out of stock for quite some time because it's awesome and everybody wants one.

The other day it popped up in an ad in my sidebar. When I clicked over, my size available in one color - the gray. I had to snag it, on sale for $15. Open cardigans are my favorite, and it's very difficult to find one that's not made out of synthetic materials.

I'm a cotton girl through and through.

This was worth the splurge.

My goal for groceries this month was to spend only $600. I had a ton in my freezer that needed to get eaten and I wanted to challenge myself to not be so lazy in the kitchen and to really stretch our food supply. I'm so close to the finish line! I have enough food to get us to the end of the month and $40 left in the budget. I think I can...I think I can...

One little tip if you love tomatoes as much as we do, save the little bits and leftovers and freeze them in a plastic bag. Also, if a tomato is mealy or partly bad you can salvage the good part and freeze it. Later you can use them in soups or pasta sauces. Lately I've been making pizza sauce with our freezer tomatoes bits.

Don't waste! Food is $$.


This month, I evaluated the money we spend on subscriptions. I decided that my Audible subscription of 2 books per month is definitely a keeper. My 8 year old Stephen and I enjoy it the most.

I'm currently listening to and LOVING America's First Daughter.

Stephen is on the second Harry Potter.

A subscription I decided to cancel was to a Pilates site that was costing $13/month. I wasn't using it much any more. It was perfect to jump start my exercise plan when I was struggling with the craziness of school. But lately I have been walking in the evenings and finding great workouts on YouTube.


Over all I'm loving the no spend month. It's not as hard as I thought it would be, and I find it very freeing to not have to decide or agonize about spending. Of course, it's not sustainable. I have to buy things. But the spending break has brought so much clarity and taught me how to be more disciplined with money.


Spending and Saving + Girls' Clothes

I'm having a no spend July and all my blogging this month will be about managing the financial side of home life. I'm sharing what I'm learning and ideas about saving, spending wisely, and generally being responsible with our resources.


Girls' clothes are my weakness. If I have a tendency to impulse buy or make an emotional purchase, it's usually with little girl's clothes or my clothes.

Lately, I have found the best defense against overspending with little girl's clothes is to buy what I  love to begin with and be selective with hand-me-downs. To love what we have and have what we love.

Because you are only a mom to little girls once and childhood goes so fast, I think it's important to
LOVE your little girl's wardrobe. If I only had boys, I would be more into what they wear. But since my boys are destroyers of all things nice, I choose to spend more time, effort, and money on dressing the girls.

I enjoy dressing Laurie and Caroline in pretty and playful prints and understated pieces. I like mostly simple, classic children's clothes, not ladies clothes shrunk down to children's size.

Even if it means spending a little more, I think it's so important to LOVE what your girls wear. Even pj's. Especially pj's.


One way I'm finding to save money is to take a really good inventory. Every few months I have been going through my girls' things and evaluating what we already have. We have tons of hand-me-downs from cousins and friends and sometimes it all piles up and we just have SO MUCH that I get overwhelmed.

When I sort it out and decide what to keep I play this little game where I shop my own stuff. I'm very selective in what I keep. I ask myself "What would I pay for again if I was building my daughters' wardrobes from scratch?"

Another trick is to cull enough to "pack" for an imaginary 3 week vacation in your climate.

I find that these games help me make decisions. After a big inventory, I will make a list of needed items and then I try to buy exactly what I want so that it is a satisfying purchase.


One last idea...

One day I was scrolling Instagram and I spotted a little girl wearing a summery dress that my daughter owns. This little girl also had on leggings and a sweater with that dress. It was styled so cute.

I don't know why this was such a revelation to me, but I realized I could definitely do more layering during the fall and winter instead of putting away summer dresses and replacing them with all long sleeved items.

Especially since where I live we have mild falls and winters. I think we will try hanging on to all the summer items as long as they last and still fit.

Laurie was a sweet little model for me for this post. Watch how she takes the same dress from summer to fall to winter.




See how that works! So fun reinventing the same dress. It's like getting a little shopper's high without shopping.

So what are your thoughts on spending and girls clothes?

P.S. I appreciate all your comments on the previous posts in this series! Thanks for reading.  


Classic, Low-Cost Way to Dress Little Boys

I'm having a no spend July and all my blogging this month will be about managing the financial side of home life. I'm sharing what I'm learning and ideas about saving, spending wisely, and generally being responsible with our resources.

Today, I'm talking/typing about boys' clothing. My boys are wonderfully hard on their clothes. They frequently have holes and rips from climbing trees or grease stains from messing around with boats and vehicles with my husband. 

I think their destructiveness on their wardrobe started around age 4 for each of them.

I remember sending Stephen to preschool in the cutest Honey Bee Tee, feeling like such a proud mama, dressing him so cute! He didn't wear his shirt two times before he took a pair of scissors and cut a huge hole in it.

It's pretty much been down hill from there.

So here is the most practical and economical way I've found to dress my boys during the summer months.

100% cotton, solid color tee from Walmart 
shorts from Old Navy (toddler and big boy)

I buy solid tee's on sale from Old Navy and Gap, too, but the Walmart Fruit of the Loom ones are less than $3! And they have great colors. I'm a total stickler for 100% cotton, and I always check that before buying. Sometimes the manufacturers change on you and sneak a little polyester in there. Beware.

They have other random t-shirts from school or wherever, but if I'm buying I stick to this solid, boy-friendly uniform.

For shoes, we are loving Natives. They are a sneaker and a water shoe all in one, and they have held up really well.

In addition to being low-cost, I really like the way the solid t-shirt and shorts combo looks.
I love understated, simple clothes on children. No obnoxious sayings please!

I do think sewing something cool like their age or a robot would be so cute, and a fun way to personalize the shirt. Inspiration from Margo. Maybe I'll get around to that.

My boys really don't have an opinion (yet) about what they wear, so let's hope we can hold off on the sports wear as long as possible. I'm sure it's only a matter of time.


Do you have outfit formulas for your kids? Boys or girls?
How do you manage the costs of children's clothes?


Grocery Budget

It's no spend July, and I'm working on all things money related this month. In much the same way a person tries to reset their eating habits by doing Whole 30, I'm doing a financial "diet" to reset some of my spending and saving habits. I'm not buying anything except the necessities aka groceries...and maybe a dinner out with adults because #sanity.


Taking a look back through the year, this is how much we have spent on groceries each month in  2017.

January $741.10

February $774.43

March $667.60

April $954.67

May $1,160

June $919.83

Average =  $869.61

These numbers include household items, alcohol, and the occasional takeout meal.

To my surprise, we are way within an appropriate range for a family of 6.

According to the USDA recommendations (calculated in this blog post), $750/month is considered the thrifty plan and $1454/month is the liberal plan for a family of 6 with young children.


Since it's no spend month, I set grocery budget goal for $600. We were out of town the first week in July and ate at my parents house. I have lots of food in the freezer. I'm cutting back on wine (more on that later). I think we can do it. I think $600 is a reasonable number and the challenge gives me a little thrill.

Even though we are steadily within range of recommended spending I know I could improve my numbers in future months with more careful planning and less impulse buying at Costco....and less wine.

So, what do you think about the USDA guidelines? What are the holes in your grocery spending, where you overspend or just plain blow it? Or, are you happy with how much you spend on food?


No Spend July

Normal is broke. Be weird.
                           - Dave Ramsey

This summer, life has slowed down enough for me to concentrate on some lost priorities - frugality and good stewardship at the top of the list.

Since Caroline was born almost two years ago, I have been on a frugality sabbatical of sorts. We still budgeted and saved, but the priority was to make the house run smoothly and with minimal unnecessary stress.

If I needed something, I bought it/ ordered it. I stopped keeping close tabs on our grocery budget. I didn't worry much with how much we spent on birthdays or Christmas. We just lived and spent, not crazily, but loosely enough that I think it's time to dial it back and re-master some good ol' money habits - pay yourself first, save, live below your means, budget, use what you have, give generously!

The next era is on the horizon, and I'm feeling the need to flex my frugality muscles.

We have four kids to put through private school - and college! Then there's their looming orthodontic needs, cars, insurance, cell phones, etc. Also, we want to pay cash for some home renovations, replace cars, and really get the ball rolling with retirement. Our financial future is going to require planning and discipline if we want to reach our goal!

The ultimate goal is PEACE and not a dollar amount.


To challenge myself as the primary shopper and spender for the family, I'm making July a no spend month. I've always wanted to do one of these!

The purpose is two fold. Of course I want to save some money and relearn some old frugality skills. But even more so I would like to untangle my heart from the love of money and stuff.

Even though I'm constantly decluttering and getting rid of stuff, I'm still compelled to buy new and nicer stuff even if I don't need it. And even if I'm not buying it, I'm sure spending a lot of time gushing over it online.

So, I thought it would be fun to share what I learn this month on SWM and keep all my posts money themed. I want to share the process of gaining a more frugal mindset. Also, the public accountability will help me stay on track!

I don't have any super specific rules except - don't buy anything. And anything includes entertainment. Of course, we will buy food. And if something vital like our coffee pot breaks, we will replace it.

Also, I have a hair appointment that I'm going to keep, some credit at Gap, and some gift cards to a couple of restaurants. Stephen and I might have night out because it's summer and I'm with kids 24/7.

I'm allowing for a little fun so we wont snap. My intent is not to be miserly, but to be calculated.

Thoughts? Questions? Have you ever done a no spend month?

I would love for this to be an interactive series, so please jump in and share!
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