No Spend January: Week Two

An exercise in self-restraint.

My vision board helps to focus my actions each day when it comes to spending money.

I’m not going to lie… this week was tough. Week two of no spending tested my will power and forced me to confront the unhealthy relationship that I have with my budget. I went to the thrift store to apply for a position, and I couldn’t help but browse. It was my misfortune that the fabric and pattern display was FULL of goodies that I could use. While temptation was there, I left the store with one purchase, a $1.39 antique saucer to pair with a gift I was giving that day (and no job).

I love shopping the housewares racks at the thrift store. Sheets, blankets, towels, placemats and tablecloths all make great fabric for sewing projects, and cost very little to purchase. This is ideal for any beginning sewist who doesn’t want to make a huge investment to learn how to sew.

This was my last week of unemployment payments, so I have been a bit more mindful about the money I do have put aside. While there is the promise of more stimulus money to be issued, and extended unemployment on the horizon, the money has not yet been approved and the unemployment system is mired in technological problems preventing the flow of funds to those of us treading water. This was an added stressor this week, and in the back of my mind each and every time I opened my wallet.

Unemployment is rushing to update the system and implement the new stimulus, but it is slower than the need.

Because of this situation, I spent more on gas this week than I had hoped. The months of online applications for a new “job” have yielded exactly ONE call back (a job which will not be available until July). I reasoned that any job was better than no income, and spent some time this week driving around dropping off my resume for minimum wage jobs. The cost of looking for a job this week? $20 from my budget.

The general consensus is that the unemployed ought to go out and get a job regardless of the pay. Unfortunately, many of the hiring positions are low-skill and minimum wage. As soon as they see my education level (Master’s degree), they pass on my resume. I have not had the best of luck in getting employers to respond to me, or offer an interview.

Until I am able to find another job, I will continue to use my “free” time to embrace minimalism; clean and downsize my junk. I’ve also had the time to tackle a home improvement issue – my kitchen walls. With a giant bucket of joint compound ($10.51) I retextured the aged, bowing walls (built in 1940s). In the process, I found about five other things that need to be done in the kitchen, only one costing money – painting. This week, I took money from my grocery budget to spruce up the kitchen and put my nervous energy to work. Giving the walls a good “frosting” was just the therapy I needed to get my mind off this terrible pandemic fall-out. While I feel the money spent on improvements wasn’t absolutely necessary right now, it was an investment in my sanity.

It took two days to retexture the walls in my kitchen. It was a cheap and easy way to hide the imperfections of an old home.

This week, a friend of mine celebrated a milestone birthday. I know that she has been feeling a little lonely lately working from home, and I wanted to brighten her day with a gift. I like to keep a few crafted items and extra plants on hand to give as gifts on occasions like this, so buying gifts isn’t necessary. I was pleased to give her a potted lemon tree (with the antique saucer for drainage catch) and a container of homemade soap. She mentioned that she would be having dinner with her grandchildren, so I threw in a couple of stuffed Yodas that she could give to them as well. Downsizing and gifting!

When I eat fruits and veggies, I try to save and plant the seeds. It’s always a good idea to have a few extra plants on hand to give as a gift. This lemon tree is about a year old, planted from an organic Meyer Lemon seed. For best results, plant organic, non-hybrid seeds.

One thing that felt particularly good about this week was cleaning out the clutter. I took two large blue IKEA bags full of books and empty binders to the thrift store after cleaning the living room and removing a shelf. I also purged two globes and two garbage bags of clothing! My son cleaned out his closet and I set aside any clothing we would add to his memory quilt. All these clothing Items are stored in a plastic tote; occasionally I work on making the blocks and piecing them together. It’s a great way to save memories in a practical form – a very warm blanket!

Sentimental clothing items are turned into quilt blocks. I work on the blocks whenever my son cleans out his closet, and when I have enough of them, I attach them together. The first quilt I made for my son took 18 years to make and had all patches on front and back. It is the perfect ongoing project.

Today is day 15, and the first thing I did when I woke up was to check my bank balance. I don’t know why, because I know exactly how much is there. I did the math in my head and tried not to panic as I stand on the edge of a financial cliff. I’m trying to stay positive by keeping busy with cleaning and improvement projects around the house. A new administration will be taking over in 5 days, and while I don’t have a resounding faith in our system of government, the promise of change is keeping my spirits raised.

I try not to think about the fact that I could have saved a bunch of money if I had only spent thoughtfully!

Budget Snapshot:

My discretionary funds for the month of January are $289.33. At the end of week one, the balance was $260.90.

At the end of week two, the balance of my discretionary funds is $213.25. $10.51 was spent on supplies for a home improvement project, $20 on gas, and $17.14 on grocery items.

I got a couple of unexpected deposits this week, too! $85 from unemployment (the remaining balance of my benefits) and $17 from Etsy sales.

Published by lessismorelifestyle

Do you like saving money and learning new skills? Less is More Lifestyle focuses on crafting projects and recipes that save money!

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