Our 90-day Spending Freeze

Every once in a while, we do a spending freeze. I do it to get myself back in check when I can see that I let our miscellaneous spending get a little out of hand. Most of the time, we do 30 days, but this time I decided to be adventurous and commit to a 90 day freeze.

My rules for our freeze:

1) No using the debit card except groceries.

*gas is something that I consider a bill here in Germany, rather than an expense, because a certain amount is automatically debited from our checking account each month and loaded onto our gas card*

2) We can spend the cash in our wallets, but we can’t take anything out of ATMs.

Now that the 90 days are over, I’ll give you a rundown of how things went:

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 2.34.50 PMSo in the end, we saved an average of 72% of our income during those 3 months. If you take into account the 10% that we tithed, then we were only actually living off 18%. It was very hard, but doable.

The reason we could do it was God. He rained down blessings, more than I could ever have imagined. 

Here are a few of the many ways that He provided some of the little things – both wants and needs – while we were doing our spending freeze:

  • Finn needed some pajamas, and a friend sent some in the mail (without me asking her to do so!)
  • There was a very expensive (~$70) birthday gift I wanted to get for Finn, and I found one online that somebody was giving away for free.
  • Our book club was reading a book, and I was going to skip out on joining in, but then somebody sent me the Kindle book as a gift.
  • One of my cabinets was out of control messy. I wanted a lazy susan for it, but they cost $8 at the PX. I found one at the thrift store for 50 cents (paid with wallet cash).
  • I ran out of scotch tape, but found two coupons I was able to stack to get some for free.
  • I needed to upgrade the operating system on my computer to use one of our new programs for school, but the upgrade would have cost $30. A friend sent me her disc so I was able to use it for free.
  • We needed minutes on our cell phones, and I found a gift card in my desk drawer that had been a gift from B’s unit when we had Finn. I used that to buy the minutes we needed.
  • Since I coordinated the winter co-op, the group surprised me with a $100 amazon.com gift card. I used that to buy printer ink and razor blades and a few other odds and ends that are deeply discounted by buying online.
  • There was a blogger that I love that released a book I wanted to read. Unfortunately, it cost $6 that I couldn’t spend at the moment. The very next day, it was free for 24 hours only on amazon, and I was able to get it without paying.
  • I made over $300 selling things in my house. We were able to use this money to buy a few small things (less than $5). Most of it went to fund our April trip to Paris.
  • There were some books I wanted to get at a local used book store. When I went in to get them, a woman was turning in a bunch of books. This store only gives store credit for books, not cash, and the woman was moving, so she insisted that I use $20 of her store credit instead of paying for my books.

These are a few examples that I can remember, but I’m sure there are many more! God is amazing!

Now that the spending freeze is over, there are a few things I am picking up that I needed earlier but instead I just waited to purchase. But the amount of impulse buys that we did not buy are incalculable. It’s so easy to lose track of the little things!

We’re taking off a few months, but I’m thinking I’ll do another freeze later this year.

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