2017 "No Spending" Challenge December 31, 2016 12:38 PM   Subscribe

acanthous and I have decided to start a 2017 "No Spending" Challenge, in which our goals are to reduce our spending by focusing on reusing, repairing, recycling/upcycling/freecycling, foraging, borrowing and bartering. We're inviting any interested Mefites to join us!

Much credit for this Challenge goes to acanthous, who contacted me after reading my AskMe about how to stop wanting things.

I've created a Google Group for Mefites who would like to participate. For (relative) privacy and to keep it limited to Mefites, the group is membership only. Just click "request membership" and include your Mefi name in the box.

How it's structured:

1. There are no overarching rules for how group members should try to curb their spending. What works for some may not work for all.
2. That being said, the group is intended as a place to encourage and support others who want to curb their spending.
3. In addition to acting as a support group, it's also a place to share ideas and questions about best practices, strategies, and struggles encountered while developing alternatives to spending.
4. It's a great place to find an accountability partner, should you desire one!

We'd also like to ask the mods if they would be agreeable to a once-a-month MetaTalk update on how the Challenge is progressing. We'd highlight accomplishments (by participants who have agreed to let them be shared) in the MetaTalk update, and remind interested Mefites they are still welcome to join in at any time. I also hope these monthly updates would help to avoid some aspect of "New Year's Resolution burnout", by keeping the Challenge in the forefront of people's thoughts.
posted by nightrecordings to MetaFilter-Related at 12:38 PM (48 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

(Facebook) page 189 of Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig.
posted by Wordshore at 12:52 PM on December 31, 2016 [7 favorites]

Our Buy Nothing Project Mission:
We offer people a way to give and receive, share, lend, and express gratitude through a worldwide network of hyper-local gift economies in which the true wealth is the web of connections formed between people who are real-life neighbors.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:23 PM on December 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

I would love to read monthly updates from the group in MeTa!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:33 PM on December 31, 2016 [6 favorites]

Hey there, many thanks to nightrecordings for turning my uncharacteristic impulse to reach out to another human into something that other MeFites could potentially benefit from. I am trying to make 2017 the year that I interact with the many, many things I already have, and refrain from adding more things to my life (which includes avoiding the soothing, numbing process of shopping, mainly online, for those things).

My personal motto for the year is "Replace, replenish, repair." I am hoping it gives me the wiggle room for things that are legit (like buying paint to finally finish cosmetic work in my house) without allowing me to buy, say, another ukelele, because this one is clearly the one that's going to solve all my life problems.

Use the ukuleles you already have. That is my message for 2017.
posted by acanthous at 3:10 PM on December 31, 2016 [28 favorites]

Great idea! I had already decided to make a resolution to "Spend no money on clothes" in 2017 (apart from underwear). I've been sewing a fair bit recently, so I think I can do it. Expanding that into a more general "Spend less" resolution makes sense.
posted by web-goddess at 3:15 PM on December 31, 2016

I love this idea! We bought a house in September which came with "tech debt", so all our spare cash is going to that. I'd love to join the Google group and read about it monthly on MeTalk.
posted by dotgirl at 3:42 PM on December 31, 2016

This was decided for me years ago by my financial circumstances.

Good speed, though.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:45 PM on December 31, 2016 [7 favorites]

Good timing.
I've been looking to do something similar.
I'm in!
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 5:04 PM on December 31, 2016

This is a great idea. I do "buy nothing" months once a year, but this might be an excellent challenge. Especially considering I'm trying to pay down debt this year.
posted by greermahoney at 9:23 PM on December 31, 2016

This is a thing I would like to delve deeper into. I began some good habits around saving to put the kid through college, and I have transferred some of those habits to saving cash now that she's graduated, but there's much more to be done. I need to begin composting, & would like a simple vegetable garden, & want to improve my cooking & eating habits, as that's one of the big holes in my budget but would also like to discover other areas of consumption that are ripe for paring.

I have read through that related askme a couple of times recently & see a lot of myself in that desire to obtain things for the sake of having them, & want to continue work on the discipline of reducing those desires, but a simultaneous effort to replace that with better habits & new skills is a worthy goal, since I find my savings account continuously burning a hole in my pocket & it needs to stay untouched.

I'm not a big "joiner," but I think I'm willing to try to contribute to this effort.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:24 AM on January 1, 2017

use it up
wear it out
make it do
or do without
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:33 AM on January 1, 2017 [9 favorites]

One of the things I'm doing - starting today, January the first - is running a Google Docs spreadsheet of spending. All spending, right down to the penny e.g. buying a carton of milk from the shop adds to the total for "incidental food" spending for that day.

Did this a few years ago and after the first few weeks found it almost hopelessly complicated. Going through the list to determine why there were so many outgoings led to me canceling a few direct debits, standing orders and bank accounts, which made spending - automatically - a little less and life a little simpler. I've taken the view since then that if I can't practically keep track of all my outgoings because they are too complicated/overwhelming, then they have to change.

Oh, and the other thing discovered was that spending was several times more on alcohol than I assumed; the resulting cut-back there ended up being better for both waistline (53 pounds lost in 3 years without much conscious effort) and bank balance.
posted by Wordshore at 7:35 AM on January 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

running a Google Docs spreadsheet of spending. All spending

I'm doing a variant of this, but with an app (went looking for app recommendations in AskMe, found my question from five years ago, wtf me). After leaving my job at the Archive I decided I could earn more or spend less in 2017 and I think I can gain some traction in both directions especially if I pay attention to spending a little more closely. I like the loose format of this nightrecordings. Best of luck with people working on their money things for 2017.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 9:09 AM on January 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

We're halfway through the process of moving across the country to a vastly cheaper area (in part because lost, hopefully temporarily, one income due to injury) and we're determined to keep our spending locked down so we can donate more and generally feel more secure. Once we're properly planted I'll definitely give the Google group a look!
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:33 AM on January 1, 2017

Nice! I have a money goal of "less buying of things" with various aims attached to that goal. It's not precisely a "spend less" goal, more of a "clean out the house; pare down the closet; use up the fabric stash" goal attached to a "you could spend more on charity, and tips for your bartenders, and rounds for your friends" feeling.

I also have to reset my monthly accounting. There was an error I never figured out and some other stressors which have had me falling way down on that job lately.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:02 AM on January 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I'm also on the paring-down-the-stuff-I-already-have wagon as well. I led a semi-nomadic lifestyle until I met my bride, and have now lived in the same house for almost 19 years. The stuff that I used to slough off with each move is accumulating in drawers & plastic bins from Target. We're considering a move to cheaper climes in perhaps 2 or 3 years, and I'm not dragging all this cruft across the country. Working on being less covetous & acquisitive will help me let go of a lot of stuff that I really don't use or need.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:23 AM on January 1, 2017

The Compact is a social and environmental movement whose members promise not to buy anything new for a year. It was started in San Francisco.[1] The movement began as a challenge among 10 friends in 2006.[2]
Just for those looking for additional resources on this idea.
posted by notyou at 11:23 AM on January 1, 2017

Frugality is a way of life for me; it's how I was raised, at least mostly, and I find it to be more environmentally friendly. As I get closer to retirement age, it's not so much optional as required. Looking forward to the group.
posted by theora55 at 12:09 PM on January 1, 2017

It's almost my birthday and I have decided to use it as the starting point for saving up for an epic adventure in five years. I also want to start using the things I have instead of filling an emotional hole with a constant influx of new and shiny objects. My first two rules -- no books until I read all the books I already have and no yarn until I knit my stash. The former should take me into 2018 and as for the latter, I achieved SABLE (stash accumulated beyond life expectancy) a while ago.
posted by atropos at 12:54 PM on January 1, 2017 [5 favorites]

I've been taking stock of my financial situation over the last few weeks and I definitely need to curtail my spending. I'm in!
posted by bunderful at 1:05 PM on January 1, 2017

Based on AskMe recs a ways back I came across the Pear Budget Spreadsheet. The website looks lovely, but a simple excel sheet was enough for me to curtail how much I spent on clothing and dining out, especially, this past year; this year, my goal is to get my grocery budget under control as well and become a much more organized/disciplined supermarket shopper.
posted by TwoStride at 1:35 PM on January 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Public libraries are one of the most powerful "Cheat Codes" in the "Game of Life", allowing you free* or very cheap access to all manner of objects d'knowledge, services and resources. If there's a public library nearby and you haven't been for a while, it could be worthwhile checking out (see what I did there)(never mind) their full selection of content, services and resources. There may be things they offer or do that you'd never have considered but, on reflection, saves you money. Which can quickly add up to a lot of money.

- 5 Free Public Library Services & Resources You Should Take Advantage Of
- How to Save Money Using a Public Library
- What services do libraries offer?
- Six reasons your local library is so much more awesome than you realized

My rule of thumb when moving to somewhere new for any significant period of time (permanent, long vacation, working holiday) is on day one to take a bunch of ID, make a beeline for the public library, sign up, find out all the stuff they have, do and offer, and check out the noticeboards.

(* Look, you're paying through local taxes or whatnot for it so might as well use it anyway. Also, librarians like footfall and service and content uses as it helps their sustainable figures.)
posted by Wordshore at 1:39 PM on January 1, 2017 [14 favorites]

This is interesting.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 2:24 PM on January 1, 2017

Netflix just added "The Ultimate Guide to Penny Pinching," a documentary.
posted by bunderful at 3:00 PM on January 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Well, I'm out.
posted by ODiV at 3:55 PM on January 1, 2017 [5 favorites]

This has been heavily on my mind, especially since my kid's daycare gave me 2 week's notice that they are raising my rates almost $100 a month. Things keep getting more expensive and my salary keeps getting more...the same. I put in a request to join!
posted by DrGirlfriend at 4:00 PM on January 1, 2017

In my local area, there's a "Pay it Forward" Facebook group, where people post items that anybody can grab for free, on the general principle that you get stuff for free, and in return you also give away whatever you have around taking up space pointlessly. It's very active, and even goes as far as "I cooked too much X tonight...anybody want some?"

That might be something to set up, if there isn't one in your area already.

My thing of late has been to actually watch the tons of things I've recorded off the TV, before buying any bingeworthy HBO style shows. Or there's the wealth of content free from SBS, the Australian broadcaster set up initially for overseas / multicultural programming. Right now, I'm churning through Nordic noir.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:04 PM on January 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

Also, librarians like footfall

It took me about 5 reads to work out you weren't talking about football, and I imagined a tactic of buttering up the librarians by inviting them out into the park to throw a footy around for a bit.

Then, they'd introduce you to the special football streaming room, where you can watch all the games for free.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:06 PM on January 1, 2017 [6 favorites]

I may be more so of a loose member, but I"m in.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:29 PM on January 1, 2017

I don't think we are looking to make any drastic changes in our spending, but more mindfulness is always a good thing and I am looking forward to this as an ongoing thing. I like the idea of intermittent (like every month or two) updates/discussions here in MeTa.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:55 PM on January 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

I know that I won't be able to keep up with another group, but I also like the idea of monthly-ish updates here, for inspiration and accountability!
posted by lazuli at 5:41 PM on January 1, 2017

Mod note: Misfired joke removed, carry on.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:53 PM on January 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best of luck to everyone with their fiscal goals in '17, whatever they may be.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:26 PM on January 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

I wish I could be in, but the Google groups format doesn't work well for me. However I wish everyone luck and would love to hear updates! Maybe updates could also include good ideas come up with for that month?
posted by corb at 9:57 PM on January 1, 2017

I may be more so of a loose member, but I"m in.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:29 PM on January 1 [+] [!]

same. I want to make some eponysterical response but I'm still taking Percocet which is making me crazy so decided against it.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 5:13 AM on January 2, 2017

We have over thirty members so far, thanks to all who have already joined! Very excited about this!
posted by nightrecordings at 6:18 AM on January 2, 2017

Shepherd and I might be in, seeing as how we joined the Uber Frugal Challenge over on the Frugalwoods blog and are looking to make long term changes in our lives and spending.
posted by Kitteh at 7:50 AM on January 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Going to try to be in. I'm at a place where I'm just starting to recover enough financially from previous underemployment that there are some things I do need to buy (hopefully not new, never full-price, but still). Thanks for putting this together.
posted by notquitemaryann at 12:29 PM on January 2, 2017

I'm in! I already set myself the goal to only buy used or handmade clothes this year (underwear and socks excepted, but I also have quite a lot of both), and I need to cut down on my spending anyway. And I want to cut down on my wanting, if that makes sense. Really looking forward to the group, thank you for organizing this.
posted by kalimac at 12:43 PM on January 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Last year Deutsche Welle had a beginning and end podcast (in English) of a correspondent who attempted to live plastic-free while living in Berlin. There's some overlap with no-spending, perhaps, in the attempt to recycle as much as possible. Bonus: cute kids.

I haven't listened to it but "This woman hasn't produced any trash in three years" about a zero-waste person in NYC showed up while I was searching for the above podcasts.
posted by XMLicious at 2:28 PM on January 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm in. I need to be more conscious of my spending. Thanks for organizing this.
posted by LeftMyHeartInSanFrancisco at 4:34 PM on January 2, 2017

Send me all of your saved money. Thanks in advance!
posted by not_on_display at 10:49 PM on January 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm in! I already set myself the goal to only buy used or handmade clothes this year (underwear and socks excepted, but I also have quite a lot of both), and I need to cut down on my spending anyway. And I want to cut down on my wanting, if that makes sense. Really looking forward to the group, thank you for organizing this.

Yes! This was my goal in 2016 (except I also allowed new shoes) and I didn't quite meet it but I got very close. I also applied to the group so maybe we can start a little secondhand club in there.

2017 will bring a lot of changes, including job changes and moving to a new state, so I will likely not be strictly no-spend but definitely need to keep a tight handle on what I do spend.
posted by mama casserole at 7:51 AM on January 3, 2017

This is certainly something I need to do. Between this and cutting back on the weekend sauce, I could have more at the end of 2017!
posted by pizzakats708 at 8:04 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm in as well - I need to not buy lunches as often!
posted by Lucinda at 8:56 AM on January 3, 2017

Application submitted.
posted by drezdn at 9:42 AM on January 3, 2017

I've asked to join. I don't see how I can spend much less than I currently do, but it can't hurt to read other people's ideas, and perhaps other people can benefit from my experiences.
posted by orange swan at 11:35 AM on January 3, 2017

We're at nearly sixty members and counting - yay!
posted by nightrecordings at 3:31 PM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

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