Way back in November, we made a to-do list to get us through our self-imposed spending freeze. In short, we wanted to bulk up our savings account while wrapping up a bunch of loose end projects we’d been putting off (more details here). We’re currently making our Spring 2012 To-Do List, and thought this would be a good time to see where we ended up on our last to-do list.
First, lets talk about the spending freeze. The short story: It was hard. Really, really hard.
When we lived in NYC, we pretty lofty goal of saving up for a down payment on a house. That meant we basically stopped spending money on anything that wasn’t the bare essentials. We squirreled away everything we could for about 2 years and got used to living like penny-pinching hermits.
Moving to smalltown Pennsylvania after years of living in The City was a financial shock. Our mortgage is super low (the upside of buying a beat-up old shanty) and the cost of living here is a fraction of what we were used to paying. We’re saving $1000 a month just by not paying NYC rent. We suddenly found ourselves in the very lucky position of having disposable income. And, holy crap, we disposed of it just as quickly as we earned it.
In August, we went to Home Depot or Lowe’s 2 or 3 times a weekend — each trip came with a bill of $200+. Sometimes we’d drop $1000 a weekend on stuff that would just sit in the garage because we were buying supplies for projects we didn’t have time to do.
To put a stop to unnecessary spending and to bulk up our savings account, we decided to go back to our old skinflint ways. From November 1st to December 31st, we decided not to spend any money at hardware stores (unless it was a small purchase to finish a project we’d already started).
How did we do? Not perfectly, but pretty damn good compared to how we were spending before. We did spent money at our local hardware store, but it was never more than $50 a trip. And we only purchased what we needed for on-going projects. That doesn’t mean we didn’t spend any money on stuff we didn’t need.
Here’s where we failed miserably and spent way more money than we were planning to:
- We adopted a dog.
We sprang Margot from the animal shelter on December 3rd. And then we proceeded to spend a ton of cash on vet bills to nurse her back to health. She got kennel cough during her stint behind bars. Then she gave it to Jabba, so both of them were sick. Then everyone needed an annual check up and vaccinations. Annnnd finally, Margot accidentally bit Jabba on the eyeball and we had to rush her to an emergency vet on a Sunday. So, yeah, we’ve been dishing out some serious cash to keep our four-legged friends healthy. (Worth every cent for the amount of happiness they bring us.)
- We refilled the oil for our furnace.
We use our furnace only as an emergency backup heating system when we’re out of town. It only kicks on if the temperature drops below 50 degrees — that way our pipes won’t burst. We haven’t used it at all since we installed our hybrid water heater, so we had 1/4 tank of oil left. We weren’t planning on refilling it this winter.
Then one week, while we were in Brooklyn, our thermostat crapped out and reset itself to 65 degrees. By the time we got back and realized what happened, we had less than 1/8th of a tank of oil left. Yiish. We shelled out $900 for an oil refill (and $100 for a new thermostat).
- We lost our minds at an outlet mall.
On our way to Brooklyn, we pass by a huge outlet mall. We randomly stopped by to check out the J. Crew factory store, and ended up walking away with armfuls of bags. To this day, we’re not even sure how much money we spent. But we tell ourselves it’s worth it, because we look so much cuter in our new clothes.
Despite a few hiccups, we still managed to meet our savings goal and get back in control of our spending. We’re still being frugal these days and only spending money on things we need. So, all in all, our little experiment was a success.
How’d we do on our to-do list? We crossed off almost everything. Boo-ya!
- Guest bedroom / Office / Upstairs Hallway
- Put up trim
- Paint the trim
Hem and hang curtains Re-veneer the bedBuild a new bed from scratch Make legs for the desk Install ceiling fan in guest BR Install guest BR closet Make custom shelves for the office closet
- Dining Room / Living Room / Stairs
Remove all the staples from the staircase (there were stragglers)
- Remove carpet from the living room and entry hallway
Replace two dining room windows Install ceiling fan in living room Prime the walls outside the master BR and down the stairs
Install hot water heater Insulate rafters Install shelving system Demolish staircase Mildew-bomb the stinky corner
- Master Bedroom
Move all the stuff from the attic to the garage Reorganize tools, toolboxes and bins (currently a hot mess) Move paints, paint supplies, hardware and electrical stuff for storage in basement
- Other Stuff
Demolish hideous trellis outside laundry room
- Insulate the washer pipes
Polyurethane the white dresser Thanksgiving weekend: load dumpster Install dishwasher
The stuff we didn’t finish is getting moved to our Spring 2012 To-Do list. We’re still working on it and will throw it up here shortly. Also coming up: updates on that darned cabinet (it’s thisclose to being done!). Plus we’re gearing up to build some bedroom furniture. We’ll share our plans and step-by-step instructions for building a bed and some night stands. Stay tuned!