I started out with good intentions. I mean, who feels like shopping for anything other than grocery staples throughout the month of January? I don’t. I really don’t. Especially now that every community around us is surging with omicron and for almost forever, our local hospital has been full of COVID-19 patients. All of this and more make it so easy not to want to go shopping in January. Around ten years ago, I officially began considering January our no-spend month. The rules I follow are: no purchases other than necessary grocery staples like bread, produce, milk, lunch meat, and cat food, and, of course, our regular bills.
If you follow my YouTube channel, you’ll soon see a tour of our refrigerator and freezer and the list I constructed for our first shop. I stuck pretty close to creating a grocery list with the aforementioned staples plus a couple of toiletries and supplements. Off we went last weekend to Target and Walmart, and as we went to and fro in the stores, we waded through aisle after aisle of things to “organize” your home or pantry with.
As a professional organizer, we own an organizing business that’s just waiting to reopen should COVID ever leave this area. It always strikes me the amount of stuff stores sell to help get a person “organized.” We worked with quite a few clients who wanted their pantries and kitchen cupboards organized to look pretty like on Pinterest and IG. And while what the client wants is always paramount, we do point out that the way to a more organized pantry or kitchen is to buy less stuff. Some of our clients acknowledge this to be true and ask for us to give them a more pared down look with less clutter, while others buy more stuff or want more stuff to put their stuff in. We organized for clients for almost three years, and the clients who wanted more stuff were always the first ones on our spring list asking for us to schedule time to organize their kitchen and pantry. Job security. What else can I say? We are happy to have them as clients and look forward to getting back to work.
I digress. We also happened to notice a lot more bare shelves. Shelves really have been bare off and on for two years. Most of the food items out of stock were usually items we didn’t buy that often, so no biggie. However, this past weekend, as meat dwindled in our freezer, I thought back to the last three trips we made to a very large, usually fully stocked grocery store and found no meat. Absolutely none of the meat that we bought left. That’s right, no chicken, no ground beef, no pork, and none of the salmon we always buy. As we were leaving the house, I mentioned that perhaps we should stretch the no-spend to include meat. Yes, my hubby answered, that’s a good idea. And don’t forget, we need to buy anniversary cards just in case they go out of stock. I doubt they would, but I noted anniversary cards and then, oh yes, Valentine Candy. Maybe, no, we’d better stick to the no-spend and take our chances in February.
Off we went, and as I said, once in the stores, everything was all about getting organized. And yes, Valentine’s Day–one of my favorite days of the year, and candy, and cards, and Target had boots on sale (2 pairs left and both my size) and winter coats on discount, all the things. Yes, all the things. Well, we left Target, which by the way, is one of my happy places, with two anniversary cards (the only other time we buy cards is on our birthdays), one bag of Valentine’s Day candy, a set of towels on sale because they’ll never be on sale again, and those two pairs of boots!!
Heads hung in shame, we moved on to the grocery store before all the meat was gone again. Ground beef was $5.99/lb, so we bought what we could–4.5#. Prior to the pandemic, that would be 5 meals’ worth of ground beef. Now it’s close to 10. We bought two roasting chickens for $10.26 each, and I roasted them, stripped them of meat, made broth from the carcasses, chicken/baked potato/carrot meal, chicken salad, chicken soup, and finally chicken wraps with them. For $9.00 each, I was able to buy two packages of salmon, each weighing just over a pound. On the less expensive side, but still way overpriced, I bought some sausages, which were $3.50 more than usual, and walked by our bacon, now priced at $12.99 a package.
So, you know, I failed at the January no spend challenge. I succeeded in not buying stuff to “organize” my stuff, but failed at January’s no spend. Will I ever be able to do it again? Should I try in February or March? Probably not. As long as there are shortages of really vital items in our diet or household, we’ll buy stuff when we see it rather than have to do without it altogether. I mean, just the merry go round we’re on keeping our cat in cat food is incredibly stressful, never mind my having to inform hubby there’s no meat for a month.
We look forward to a time somewhere in the future where we can return to sticking strictly to a budget, or at least one that has fewer ups and downs in it. We definitely look forward to the return of prices that are considerably lower than what they are now, or at least somewhat lower than what they are now, because we won’t be able to afford the prices that are out there now forever. I’m fine with a no meat diet, but my husband… well, that’s another blog post.
How about you and your family? Do you have no-spend months or periods in your life?