My New Non-Spending Tracker!

I did something over the weekend I was pretty proud of myself for: I refrained from buying two things that I really REALLY wanted to take home with me.

One was an oil painting with a pretty kick-ass frame (alone was worth the $20 price tag), and the other a hand-painted side table from Peru that had all kinds of awesome designs on it. That one was a bit pricier at $40, but when I flipped it over I noticed a small shop sticker labeling it as $240 – probably meaning it came from some sort of antique store originally.

Both items might be categorized as “expensive” considering I was shopping at The Salvation Army, haha, (I was there to drop off stuff!) but nonetheless they were still great deals in my eyes. How Macklemore can pop tags with only $20 in his pockets is beyond me ;)

Anyways, here were all the reasons that stopped me in my tracks:

  1. I’M MOVING!!! I need to get *rid* of stuff, not take on more!
  2. I shouldn’t be spending money in a time like this either
  3. I don’t really *NEED* any of that stuff – I just like it.
  4. I’m trying to be more minimalist!! (why do I always have *trying* next to that word? ;))
  5. I’m MOVING!!!!!!!!!!!!

So I walked away item-less and in a pretty “thinky” mood. Which is where today’s idea comes in…

I started wondering how many times I’ve said “no” to a purchase I really wanted, and even more so, how much MONEY I’ve saved in doing so? I know it’s not *really* like saving money all the way, but in times like this when I’m 99% sure I’d be buying if it weren’t for a few select variables at the time (specifically #’s 1, 2, and 5 up there) I do indeed consider it saved. I walked away with $60 still in my pockets instead of 2 new items which ny normal day would have brought.

Now there’s not that many times I can remember where I left behind something I REALLY wanted to pick up like that but didn’t (the beauty of having a budget on lock!), but I reckon it would be in the high hundreds, or low thousands, if I’d been tracking it over the years. I don’t go shopping as much as I used to (another reason I tend to buy stuff on the spot when something sparkles my fancy) but it sure would be cool to have had it all on a spreadsheet to see what a difference it’s made! Or at least to my de-cluttering goals :)

So, starting today this weekend, I will now be tracking all the times I cut myself out from buying something the “normal me” would have. In hopes it motivates me to keep on going at it, as well as giving me more of an appreciation for the things I DO continue to still buy! Not only would I become more selective of what I then pick up going forward (in theory, anyways), but it would also be like using the money already saved from past no’s too. And that’s kinda cool. Sorta like my old poker days I mentioned where I continuously have a “pot” of money to be used for it and I use any winnings to supplement it. In this case it’s just all the money I saved from not buying the previous items.

I’m probably making this wayyyyyy more complicated that it actually is, but nonetheless I feel like I’ve stumbled across some sort of small epiphany here, and I’m running with it as fast as I can ;) Who knows where it will lead to down the road!? My “no shopping” challenge has continued to benefit my habits and that was over 5 years ago! Maybe this new mentality will stick too?

Here’s the start of my new list:

  • Flower oil painting: $20.00
  • Hand-painted table from Peru: $40.00
  • TOTAL SAVED: $60.00

I’ll continue to keep you updated and see where this goes! Feel free to join me in my new mission too :) We can all save and be spreadsheet nerds together.

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  1. My Financial Independence Journey May 13, 2013 at 5:47 AM

    Not buying stuff when I was trying to move was never a problem for me. If you want to move by mid year, the only things that you should by buying are boxes and packing tape.

    1. J. Money May 13, 2013 at 11:13 AM

      easier said than done for some people ;)

  2. Matt Becker May 13, 2013 at 6:07 AM

    Haha, another spreadsheet! My wife will be so excited! In all seriousness though, I think this is a pretty cool idea. Psychologically it can be tough to tell yourself no all the time, so finding some way to measure the progress of doing so sounds cool to me.

    1. J. Money May 13, 2013 at 11:14 AM

      Spreadsheets are sexy!! All the cool kids are doing it ;)

  3. Free Money Minute May 13, 2013 at 6:23 AM

    You also need to include items you pass on in retails stores. This is where the real power of self control comes in. It seem like every time I go to the grocery store for a few items, I come home with 3 bags full and $40-60 gone!

    1. J. Money May 13, 2013 at 11:17 AM

      Agreed! Pretty much anything I pass on going forward will be tracked now. But only those that I REALLY REALLY would have gotten normally and decided to say no to, and not those that I was 50/50 on. Or else that would be like millions of dollars saved in a year ;)

  4. Jane Savers @ Solving The Money Puzzle May 13, 2013 at 6:40 AM

    Could you have flipped the table and frame for a profit? If not then you should pass.

    I have moving and the less stuff you have to move the better. Instead of buying you should start getting rid of something every single day. The less stuff you have the happier you will be and the less packing tape you will have to buy.

    1. J. Money May 13, 2013 at 11:19 AM

      Oh, believe me, we’re already giving away a TOOOOON of stuff. Made another large trip to The Salvation Army and now have things listed all over the place on Craigslist ;)

      But yeah, that table was freakin’ sweet… I could have probably flipped it if normal times, but right now it’s just not a priority… we’ll see what I get in its place later for $40! :)

  5. abby May 13, 2013 at 7:16 AM

    I love this idea. My weakness is food though. I go to trader joes and poof, there goes $20. But I need food, right? And I don’t want to eat nasty processed food. So I’m not sure where to draw the line. On the other hand, I haven’t bought myself anything clothing/make-up related in over a year.

    1. J. Money May 13, 2013 at 11:21 AM

      yeah, this stuff will be different for everyone. if it’s food you crave, and you’re right – you do need it! – then that’s fine in my books. but maybe if it was above and beyond what you normally get, and decide not to, *then* it should go down on the no-spend tracker? either way the point is to just pay attention more to expenses, so as long as you’re doing that you’re winning :)

  6. Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies May 13, 2013 at 7:30 AM

    I thought I had heard of an iPhone app that you could use to “impulse save”, but can’t find the name of it right now. The idea was that whenever you walked away from a purchase like those, you could click on your iPhone and transfer the money into a savings account specifically for these impulse saves. =)

    1. J. Money May 13, 2013 at 11:23 AM

      hah! there IS a company actually called Impulse Save! did you search for that?? :) and I believe it does exactly this. and that I’ve tried it before! haha… oops. guess it didn’t click back then?

  7. Greg@ClubThrifty May 13, 2013 at 7:49 AM

    That is a fun idea. I think you’ve motivated me to start tracking this as well. So, do you put it down only if you are really jonesing for it, or does it count if you only kind of want it?

    1. J. Money May 13, 2013 at 11:26 AM

      ONLY if it’s something the normal you would have bought before tracking it :) or else it would get to big and not really that “real” ya know? but yeah – def. track it too and let’s see what happens!

  8. John S @ Frugal Rules May 13, 2013 at 8:02 AM

    That’s a great idea! We go through this ourselves regularly and 99% of the time we end up not buying the item for one reason or another…usually because we just do not want to spend the money & have too much junk as it is. I love the spreadsheet btw, though I am certain my wife will roll her eyes when I tell her that I have another spreadsheet for us to use. ;)

    1. J. Money May 13, 2013 at 11:26 AM

      haha…. well it’s a good thing YOU manage it all then, huh! my wife vomits a little in her mouth every time we sit down do talk about money ;)

  9. @debtblag May 13, 2013 at 9:18 AM

    Great idea!

    I do this unofficially. If I see something I think about buying, I’ll remember that I have a bunch of debt, and slowly shift money in a spreadsheet, but I love that you have one whole spreadsheet dedicated solely to this.

    For me, I would calculate these amounts and then as those extra amounts built up, send them off to pay down debt.

    So great an idea. I love combining math and spreadsheets with fun debt paydowns :)

    1. J. Money May 13, 2013 at 11:29 AM

      That’s an idea! Maybe once we’re doing moving and all I’ll apply the amounts towards or mortgage or something? I kinda like that…

  10. Shafi May 13, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    You could look at differently. The painting and the table might someday turn out to be collector’s items worth a lot more than the $60 you didn’t pay for.

    1. J. Money May 13, 2013 at 11:31 AM

      Indeed. I’m sure they’re already worth a lot more right now! So def. sucks on that part, but oh well… on the flip side I now have a whole new thing to track and motivate me with ;)

  11. Jacob Erickson May 13, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    Awesome, sounds like a fun thing to keep track of. You can then see how much that money adds up to and what else you could do with that money. I hate to say it, but I don’t think I say no to myself too often. Normally my wife and I say no to going out to eat, that’s about it.

    1. J. Money May 13, 2013 at 11:32 AM

      Haha… that’s the only thing we always say YES to! We rarely eat out so when one of us gets excited to we jump on it :)

  12. kathleen May 13, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    Love it! You could get EVEN FANCIER and set up a sub-account where you transfer $20 or $40 into it every time you pass something up.

    1. J. Money May 14, 2013 at 2:43 PM

      Haha sure – that would be good!

  13. Retire By 40 May 13, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    That’s a great idea. I should start a no spend spreadsheet too.
    There is no way I would be buying anything if we’re moving. There are too many things to move already.

  14. Kyle @ Debt Free Diaries May 13, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    Awesome idea! I’ve done something similar to this in the past and it really opened my eyes to how much stuff I buy that’s not necessarily needed at the time.

  15. Lisa E. May 13, 2013 at 2:06 PM

    Great idea! I’m thinking about starting a non-spending tracker for myself! Thanks for the great article!

    1. J. Money May 14, 2013 at 2:43 PM

      I hope you do! Then you gotta blog about it and pass on the word to others too :)

  16. Nick @ May 13, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    I love how you are always thinking out-of-the-box! Good idea, J!

  17. Mike@WeOnlyDoThisOnce May 13, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    Too true! I had to walk away from some cool items just yesterday because of an upcoming move. While moving is stressful, it also affords the opportunity to consider what we really need.

  18. kellie nienajadly May 13, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    I’ve been doing the same thing lately and when I mentally turn down something I KNOW I would have bought but talked myself out of, I move the saved money to my savings account. The money would’ve been gone anyway from my checking account.

    1. J. Money May 14, 2013 at 2:45 PM

      Yup, exactly. That’s even a better way to do it :) I’ll probably do the same as time goes on, or maybe just in one chunk every now and then or something.

  19. Alexa May 13, 2013 at 9:02 PM

    Congrat on the will power! I probably would have bought that table and tried to resold it if it had the $240 price tag on it. I have spending a little too much money on clothes lately. I found the website thredup which is basically an online consignment shop. The clothes are inexpensive but I really don’t need them.

    I will keep this post in mind next time I get the urge. ;)

    1. J. Money May 14, 2013 at 2:45 PM

      Oh cool! I’ll have to check out that site, I like the name! Though now you’re trying to temp me into spending more too! Haha… naughty naughty.

  20. Edward Antrobus May 13, 2013 at 9:31 PM

    Sounds like an awesome idea. Does wanting one thing but buying a cheaper version count?

    1. J. Money May 14, 2013 at 2:46 PM

      Sure, if you want it to count :)

  21. SavvyFinancialLatina May 13, 2013 at 10:12 PM

    Ah I walk away from buying items all the time. I need to do it more often!

  22. StackingCash May 14, 2013 at 2:02 AM

    I need your help in talking me and my wife out of buying a house with a monster mortgage. I need help with not wanting to buy a 2013 Acura RDX also. I wish I had my old problems of just buying a Venti Carmel Frappuccino…

    1. J. Money May 14, 2013 at 2:47 PM

      Haha… I can’t help you on the RDX (beautiful car!) but I can on the mortgage :) A monster one usually comes with monster maintenance and stuck-ness too!

  23. Deasy May 14, 2013 at 2:57 AM

    That’s an interesting twist on how we can save. Why didn’t I think of that before! Lol! But it’s great to see a positive-looking spreadsheet / list than a negative one to get us motivated to save more. Going to have to start using that ;)

    1. J. Money May 14, 2013 at 2:48 PM

      Yeah, it’s like “the debt that could have been” type of spreadsheet, haha… def. more positive! Spread the word! :)

  24. Ralph Beale May 14, 2013 at 6:00 AM

    That’s a pretty cool idea. I actually do that already but on a smaller scale. So if I don’t have that $4 coffee, the $7 burger and the $1 Iphone app at the end of the day I take $12 out of my wallet and put it in the coffee jar. If only I can persuade my wife to do the same :-)

    1. J. Money May 14, 2013 at 2:49 PM

      Haha nice…

  25. Slackerjo May 14, 2013 at 11:06 AM

    If it does not bring value to my life, I do not buy it.

  26. amy May 14, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    there’s an app/website for this; it’s called Impulse Save. I’ve been using it for months and it helped me pay off my credit cards

  27. Anton Ivanov | Dreams Cash True May 15, 2013 at 2:09 AM

    It’s definitely a clever idea, although as you said – not technically saving. Just “not spending”. It would be interesting to see where this tracker takes you 1-2 years from now! Definitely an exercise to be considered by chronic shoppers.

    1. J. Money May 20, 2013 at 10:48 PM

      I hope I can stick to it for that long – I tend to give up after a few months, haha…

  28. Jen May 15, 2013 at 9:41 AM

    This is a clever idea! I think that this would motivate me to save more and stop myself from buying things that I don’t end up using/needing

    I actually keep track of the clothes that I buy. I don’t buy THAT much clothes but I keep track of what I bought, when I bought it and if I have worn it or not. If the merchandise still hasn’t been worn after 2 weeks, I return it because I clearly didn’t love it because I didn’t wear it. This prevents me from hoarding and buying things because I found a good deal

    1. J. Money May 20, 2013 at 10:49 PM

      Nice!! I bet that’s an interesting looking spreadsheet :) Or is it all hand written?

      1. JC May 23, 2013 at 11:54 AM

        It’s a spreadsheet of course! I have an odd obession with excel LOL. It’s a nice tool because sometimes I realize that I’ve been buying only skirts and it stops me from buying even more skirts :)

        1. J. Money May 23, 2013 at 5:35 PM

          well it’s a good thing it’s skirt season then :)

  29. Elena @ Save Money May 15, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    The hardest thing is to refrain from buying something you really want. I prefer not to go shopping too often, otherwise I will always find a thing or two I can’t live without.

  30. Alexa May 16, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    Keep in mind that it’s also hard to resist going out to eat or buying coffee everyday, and doing that may actually save money in the long run. $4 coffee adds up! I have never heard of this impulse save app before, but it sounds interesting! I’m more of a rainy-day fund type of girl so I tend to focus on saving money automatically.

    1. J. Money May 20, 2013 at 10:50 PM

      I used to do my best to ignore all those smaller purchases, but now I give in and fully allow myself them. I find they bring me more joy than most everything else! And plus they’re budgeted in ;)