THREE MONTHS DOWN, 9 TO GO! plus…March Expense Totals — Buy Nothing New for a Year!

Well it’s hard to believe that we’ve made it three consecutive months with a New Year’s Resolution. Personally, this is the first time in my life I can remember that I’ve come this far with any resolution, let alone one that has had partnership with willing (and not so willing) participants. Lessons we have learned so far this year:

  • Adults are extremely resilient when put to the test of a “buy nothing new” resolution. 7-year-olds, not so much.
  • Buy the protection plan with your smartphone, or get ready to fork over a minimum of $200 for a used one when you drop yours in a snowbank. Still using the spare, BTW.
  • Experiences make the greatest birthday gifts!
  • If you are Melissa, there is no such thing as “I can’t” when it comes to repairing a computer.
  • Things at home typically break right after we’ve sold what would have been an adequate and affordable replacement at our store.
  • Just because you’ve grown accustomed to paying a bill doesn’t mean it’s not something you couldn’t live without.

And many, many more lessons are still being learned. With 1/4 of our challenge complete, we can honestly say that we’ve never been as energized or focused on another challenge in our lives (with the small exceptions of that whole “parenting” and “entrepreneurship” thing…) It is with absolute certainty that we will make it to the end of the year, and even at this point can honestly say that it has had a profound impact on our lives, not to mention several lives around us. We’re really glad we’ve taken the challenge, and are so elated that many of you have found it interesting enough to follow and talk with us about these past three months!

Here are our itemized expenses for the month, barring mortgage, utilities, taxes/insurance and medical expenses: 

March 1st: Charitable Contributions


  • $10 PTA Membership Dues.
  • $100 Donation to Friends of Thorp “Here We Grow!” campaign





March 2nd: Nothing Purchased!

March 3rd: Nothing Purchased!

March 4th: Grocery Store and birthday present

  • $21.10, Small grocery run for dinner and snacks, all food, at chain grocery store
  • $17, Groupon deal for the Patio Theater (read all about it here.)

March 5th: Nothing Purchased!

March 6th: Nothing Purchased!

March 7th: Grocery Store

  •  $8.14, Neighborhood deli, snacks and drinks for everyone
  • $142.64, Neighborhood Grocery Market, large shop, all food

March 8th: Wholesale Club Purchases

  • 153.04, Food
  • $59.03 Gasoline

March 9th: Nothing Purchased!

March 10th: Nothing Purchased!

IMAG0206-1March 11th: Purchased some terribly needed stainless steel cookware

  • $4.99 at Thrift & Thrive, who can resist copper bottom Revere Ware? Not this guy.

March 12th: Nothing Purchased!

March 13th: Nothing Purchased!


March 14th: Chain Drug Store

  • $6.18 for some well deserved ice cream and batteries. Just in case that sounds like a bizarre combination, the ice cream was for us and the batteries were for our son.

March 15th: City of Chicago Parking Ticket and dinner out at the pub with the family

  • $60 Rush Hour parking violation. Just doing our part to keep the city running.
  • $50 +tip dinner for four and drinks for 2 at our favorite neighborhood pub.

March 16th: Nothing Purchased!

March 17th: Nothing Purchased!

March 18th: Nothing Purchased!

March 19th: Pastries for St. Joseph’s Day

  • $20.45 at our favorite local Italian bakery. St. Joseph’s Day is one of the holidays most frequently celebrated by Italian Catholics, and people such as myself named “Joe” consider it a holiday (name-day) which is best recognized and celebrated with traditional pastries called zeppoles and sfincini.


March 20th: Grocery shopping

  • $110.66, all food at a chain grocery store

March 21st: Nothing Purchased!

March 22nd: Nothing Purchased!

March 23rd: Plane ticket for bereavement trip to New Mexico and dinner at a new local restaurant

  • $537, read all about it here
  • $73 tax and tip included for burgers, beers and milkshakes for 5 to help our awesome new neighbors get off to a great start!

March 24th: Small grocery shop

  • $39.07, food at a chain grocery store

March 25th: Nothing Purchased!

March 26th: Chain Drug store

  • $8.18, Candy and batteries…noticing a trend, here?

March 27th: “Welcome Home” gifts for the boys, dinner for Melissa and I at a neighborhood pub

  • $12.94 for candy presents, namely “Moose Poop” and “Bear Poop” from the airport in Denver. We started a tradition years back when I was traveling quite a bit for my old jobs, that any time we went away, whenever we came back, we came bearing gifts for the boys. Some old habits never die…and it has gotten tricky this year with the “buy nothing new” resolution. Thankfully candy is exempt!
  • $43 even with tax and tip for many pints, many more wings, and many much needed laughs after Melissa returned from her Grandmother’s funeral.

March 28th: Tex-Mex night at home…groceries and margarita fixins…

  • 29.61, food and adult beverage mixers at a local store

March 29th: Smaller grocery shop AND Easter treats

  • $103.61. The bunny demands quality, and with two boys, (four including myself and Uncle Nick) there were a lot of hungry tummies. Hungry for chocolate. Some of this hundred bucks is actually food as well–we brought the fruit salad to an Easter Egg hunt at our friends house on Easter Sunday. However, sadly, most of this is candy. Sometimes you just need to spoil your children, and while our resolution has made it tough, again I say…candy is EXEMPT!

March 30th: Nothing Purchased!

March 31st: Easter dinner at a restaurant for our family

  • We used some gift cards I had won in my previous job, and coupled with $30 in cash we were able to feed a family of 5 at a chain steak house. It was the best option out of the 5 chain restaurants that the gift cards would work at!









March Month-End Totals:

Food/Grocery: $628.32

Household Supplies: $19.35

Entertainment: $196

Gas: $59.03

Travel: $537

Other: $199.94


March Total Cash Spent (*not including mortgage, taxes, insurance or utilities): $1639.64


  1. Kelli says:

    I did this challenge for clothing in 2010 and it absolutely transformed my spending habits. I’m excited to follow along and see how you progress!

    • admin says:

      We’re pretty close to needing a wardrobe fix, ourselves! Thinking about setting a $ limit, but also taking “inventory” of what we need before we go out to the thrift stores! Any advice?

  2. DeEtte says:

    Kohls has great deals if you shop the sales racks and manage to get a hold of a 30% coupon from someone who has a charge with them. I go all the time with my Mom’s and save more than you could dream of. Even managed to get a $160 vacuum on sale with a coupon for $80. Also if you don’t mind really looking, Marshalls & Burlington both ave great finds, but you have to have the time to look. Good Luck.

    • admin says:

      All great suggestions, but none of them would work with our “Buy Nothing New for a Year” challenge. We’re not just looking to save money, but more importantly, to not purchase new items. Perhaps next year!

What do you think?