How to Survive a Month of No Spending

Many people try this, and many people fail.  I am talking about months long no spends, shopping bans, or spending fasts.  (Many names for the same thing!) For the months of January and February I decided to cut all unnecessary spending.  I chose to do this because I did not want to be Christmas poor while going into Chinese New Year.  My online teaching job, is very dependent on the ebb and flow of holiday schedules in China.  I was able to alleviate some financial stress by focusing on my bills and savings goals. 

I have completed two no spends in the past by necessity.  The first fast occurred when my husband changed careers in 2016.  When this happened we had to reassess our financial future.  The second was when I changed careers and returned from teaching in Vietnam.  By 2018, I decided to become an independent contractor.  It took about three months to build my student base to where I needed it.  This time, I wanted to consider my actual thoughts behind making purchases. 

The book The Year of Less by Cait Flanders inspired this challenge.  She takes an honest look at why she spends and treats it like an addiction.  She was able to change careers and pay off all of her debt by the end of the year.  Due to her advice during this book and honest perspective, I decided to model my own rules based on her.  Below is my list of original rules that I shared on my Facebook list. 

January and February Rules for No Spend!

How I Did

Based on my self-created rules, I did very well my first six weeks.  I lapsed towards the end on the rules of eating out entering forbidden stores.  (Although I didn’t actually buy anything!)  I lasted the full two months without buying anything unnecessary.  The only unexpected purchase was a new pair of tennis shoes.  I deemed this as a much needed purchase since my other shoes had holes in them by this point. 

I feel like I met my general goal of thinking about my purchases carefully.  The No Spend Challenge helped me show some self-control when it comes to stopping for coffee.  I can say that I missed this the most.  I enjoy stopping by a coffee shop on my way between two jobs.  This breaks up my day and the coffee tastes way better than the staff room Keurig. 

One unexpected discovery about myself during the challenge.  I realized I am more of an extrovert than I realized.  I enjoy having a night where I go to the movies, browse shops with a friend, or even go to a restaurant I enjoy.  It did cause me to appreciate the times we went out for birthdays and trivia.  Some free things like taking a long walk or sitting on the back porch. 

Now that I am out on the other side, I would like to give some practical tips in successfully completing a no spend longer than a month.

Be Realistic

I said this recently, life is happening to us every day.  Situations come up and unexpected problems arise.  Also, some things may not be practical for your family.  For example, you may need to buy some shoes if you have young children growing like weeds.  Take note of possible situations and your family’s needs before even writing your rules. 

Have Accountability

Since I was trying to break a bad habit, I took a page from my friends completing fitness challenges.  I posted my first five weeks of progress on my Facebook group. It enabled me to have open conversation from friends and family about spending habits.  I was honest about my feelings and my failures.  Sometimes, when I was tempted to pull into the Starbucks drive-thru, I would think about having to confess it on Facebook later.

Know Your Triggers

How do you feel when you buy something new?  Do you try to put salve on a bad day by going clothes shopping?  Can’t resist a deal?  These are some of the questions you should ask yourself when creating your spending rules.  Knowing why you spend and considering your buying urges may be uncomfortable at first.  However, I did not realize how much I liked to go to Target when I am stressed. 

No Spend

Plan Ahead

The key to avoiding impulse buying is to plan days, weeks, and even months ahead.  In order to avoid buying lunches out, I would pack my lunch the night before at home.  I made sure to have plenty of coffee pods so I would not need to find caffeine elsewhere.  We went to a concert for Ed’s Christmas gift out of town.  I booked a reasonable AirBnb close to the concert venue before No Spend began.  Think of upcoming birthdays, events, trips, and daily habits when making plans for No Spend.

Clean Our Your E-mail List

Don’t forget temptation can come while you are sleeping at night!  Take time to remove yourself from e-newsletters.  Unsubscribe from shops that are tempting or offer flash sells.  I found out I had so many e-mails that I had to unsubscribe in three different sessions. 

Track What You Save

Reward yourself at the end by seeing how much you have saved!  It was very encouraging to see the amount of cash in my checking that I could transfer to savings at the end of each no spend month.  Bonus:  Take a moment to look at your bank statements from the months before the No Spend in order to see how much frivolous spending you cut out. 

No Spend Tip

Final Thoughts and Where I Will Go From Here…

I officially ended my No Spend the last week of February when my friend flew in from Scotland.  I must admit that it was nice to go into shops and head as I pleased to the coffee shop.  Over the two months, I felt guilty telling my friends no about spur of the moment plans or sales.  However, now I think twice about purchases. 

For the future, I hope to continue to implement some of my No Spend habits in the long run.  Beginning in April, I will make a fun budget to spend on coffee, eating out, and entertainment for the month.  Once the budget is reached I am finished for the month. 

I am also implementing a buying delay.  The higher priced the item, the longer I will wait to purchase it.  This way I can take advantage of the good habit I created over January and February of avoiding impulse buying.  How long do you think I should wait for an item under $25 dollars?

How to Survive a Month of No Spending

Will you try a No Spend?  Have you completed one before?  If so, what helped you be successful? 

3 Ingredients Homemade Beauty Products

In my quest for a simpler life, I decided to begin making some of my own bath products.  I hope to use things that are easy to purchase at the grocery store or on Amazon.  After some research, I found some items that appear many times as good for the skin. Some of these even appeared in my multipurpose products post last month!  My skin has always been oily and prone to breakouts.  Although I am over 30 it still breaks out and is still only.  Except now I have these weird dry patches as well! 

Below are some of the more appealing options I found in my search of the great wide web. 

Oily Skin Lotions

3 ounces cucumber juice

3 ounces witch hazel

1 ½ ounces rosewater

Mix, shake before using, apply with cotton pads in smooth, sweeping strokes.

Grapefruit Freshener

2 ounces grapefruit juice

3 ounces Witch Hazel

1 tablespoon lemon extract

Blend, store in refrigerator.  Apply as splash or with cotton pads. 

Green Tea Sunny Day Facial Mist

1 green tea bag

2-3 drops vitamin e-oil

Spray bottle

Steep tea bag in a cup of boiling water for 4-5 minutes.  Remove Tea bag and chill cup in fridge.  Add 2-3 drops of vitamin e oil for hydration.  Put in spray bottle and store in fridge. 

Vanilla Coconut Lip Scrub


  • 1 teaspoon unrefined coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix the sugar, coconut oil, and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl.  Take a small amount and massage it onto your lips for a minute.  Rinse it with warm water.

Coffee Body Scrub

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup ground oatmeal or coffee grounds (the coffee is more invigorating—choose oatmeal for sensitive skin)
  • A few drops of your favorite essential oil.

Combine ingredients and store the mixture in a dry place for up to 4 weeks. To use, wet skin first, and then apply in circular motions, gently exfoliating. Rinse. If you have extra sensitive skin, just leave out the sugar.

One thing to be aware of is that using this scrub in your shower requires some clean up afterwards!

 Fancy Castile Soap Body Wash

If you don’t want to use castile soap on its own to get clean, you can still use it to make a great body wash! Just mix it with a bit of honey, and some oils to make a gentle body wash that will moisturize and nourish your skin. Castile soap is plant based and a wonderful bath product for people with skin sensitivities and allergies.

Overwhelmed by the price tag of organic products? A great website to try is Brandless. They specialize in organic products with no additional taxes. They are a wonderful place to begin your search for cleaner and cheaper products.

Which one will you try? 

**I am not a doctor so please consult one before using if you have any doubts to your skin’s reaction. **

Disclosure:  Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission is you click through and make a purchase.

New Year and Same Me. How I can’t seem to keep my New Year’s Resolutions….

Holidays are fun, but now it is time for business.

The question I ask myself more frequently the older I get is, “Where did the time go?”  This year is no exception.  It really flew by with me spending half of it in my pajama bottoms.  2018 has been my year of self-pursuit.  A year where for the first time in seven I didn’t step foot in a public school as an employee.  A year where I learned you really can go back in time.  It has also proved to me I can make a good living wage from my home. 

Today marks my first full year with VIPKID!  (Check out my Instagram @teachingpinapple for more information.)  It has been an adventure from my own office room.  I have taught students in the Beijing Subway, learned about dumplings, and saw the sunset over Shanghai.  The kids are delightful, and I love meeting new ones every day! 

Organizing my goals!

The time has come to make my annual promises to myself.  I always try to bite off more than I can chew when it comes to New Year’s resolutions.  I come up with half a dozen on average and rarely keep them.  Many of my major changes have been through circumstance, and not the passing of the new year.  I adopted a healthy lifestyle when I got sick in 2015, cut spending in 2016 when my husband was laid off, and left a career in 2017 when I no longer felt happy there. 

Homemade treats are always something I spend too much money on.

Now, I decided to put myself into an action-oriented mind frame for 2019.  I will only adopt a few short-term goals and go from there.  My first objective is my January to February no spend months.  (Also known as a Spending Fast or Shopping Ban.)  I have successfully completed two short term fasts.  Once in 2016 and again at the beginning of 2018 when I began with VIPKID.

The Rules of My 2019 No Spend:

*Buy only the essentials.  I can only spend money on groceries, toiletries/cleaning supplies that are out, and other required items.

*No tempting visits to Target, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Starbucks, and Dollar Tree. (Basically anywhere I shop on impulse because of selection and price.)

*No eating out or coffees to go.

*Inventory and repurpose things I already have. 

January and February Rules for No Spend!


In Cait Flanders book A Year of Less she created a few exceptions to her no shopping year.  The purpose of her no spend year was to get out of the pattern of mindless spending.  I will do the same in order to maintain some social activities and to maintain prior commitments.  Here are my exceptions this time:

*I will still participate in our twice monthly Trivia game.  Part because it is a lot of fun, and because the money goes to charity.  I plan to have a small budget for weekly trivia.

*We will enjoy a trip to see a band in Pensacola, Florida.  This is a Christmas gift for my husband.

*I will still give gifts for birthdays, showers, and weddings.  (This includes going to restaurants for birthdays.) 

* Anything essential to my online classroom like my headphones, computer, backup tablet, and webcam must be replaced if they break. 

Everyone’s goals and needs are different.  It is okay if you want to cut spending in one aspect of your life.  It is also okay if you want to cut dozens of things. 

So far, several friends are going to travel on this journey with me.  I will post some tips throughout the week.  I also invite you to keep track of my weekly progress on my Facebook group and Instagram @MySassyStarfish I intend to post weekly updates on both either in story, list, or live feed form.

Would you like to join me?

Also, Happy New Year!