What do you do when you’re not spending money?

Three weeks ago, I joined The Compact, which is a commitment not to buy any new products for a year.

Well, I can’t quite commit to a year. Seriously– it’s just not in me to do anything for a whole year. But for 100 days? Sure– and if I’m going to develop a good habit, it takes me about 100 days to do it in.

Like a diet, I sometimes fall off the wagon, and I did so last week when I ordered Fluxx Español from Looney Labs. Fluxx is our favorite game around here– my Fluxx deck is so big from adding custom cards, I had to buy a special box for it (not to worry, though– there’s a whole line of card boxes for gamers, thanks to the popularity of Magic: The Gathering and other collectible card games).

But aside from the card game, which was bought from an eco-friendly, independent hippie game publisher, John and I haven’t bought many new things since starting the Compact. This becomes challenging when we head out on a Sunday afternoon, presumably to go do our weekly shopping trips. Things like mouthwash, which isn’t available at the local grocery store, are particularly bothersome, because the drug store is like, well, a drug. But a store. Last week I entered the drug store for packing tape and video tapes, and had to exert a lot of willpower to stay away from the office supplies!

So, some of the things I’ve done to help keep myself from going out and spending money:

  • Declutter the house and getting ready for a yard sale
  • Cross-stitch (made a cute Jeep-related thing for someone in the Jeep club last month)
  • Spin yarn: Sunday I went to the local spinning group for a few hours and spun with other spinners– much fun.
  • Sewing — I made a cat toy for Alladin last week.
  • Reading: I’ve read 21 books since January 1.
  • Cooking — the new diet takes time to cook dinners.
  • Practicing my speeches for Toastmasters
  • Going to RV shows– cheap entry fees, and there’s no way I’m buying a rig on-the-spot.
  • Working
  • Packing up books to send to BookMooch‘ers
  • Homework for Spanish class (class and homework fill about 8-10 hours per week)
  • Walking dogs
  • Training and playing with my cat
  • Playing card games
  • Watching TV (but only if I can skip the commercials)
  • Watching my fish (the livebearers had babies!)
  • Cleaning the house (laundry, dishes, etc.)
  • Scanning and filing for the paperless office, including old archives

So, tell me. What are your non-spending-money activities and ideas?

4 thoughts on “What do you do when you’re not spending money?

  1. I’d heard of this, and I think it’s a great idea, but like you – no way could I do it for a year. (Especially considering I’ve already blown it in 2007.)

    Cooking vs. eating out is the biggest money saver for me and avoiding buying junk food. When a shopping trip is just protein and some produce, it gets nice and cheap, especially once I got the spice rack properly restocked and it’s now rare that I have to drop any money on those. My last marketing bill was $49, and that was enough to eat for 2 people for 5 days. In my mind, $5 a day is pretty good, even though I seem to always know people that are managing gourmet meals on 37 cents a day or something like that.

    Vegging out at home is also nice & cheap. 🙂 Reading, writing, mucking around on the internet, while not necessarily productive, enjoyable and don’t require my wallet.

  2. Besides what you listed (though some of these aren’t very different):

    * http://www.websudoku.com
    * reorganizing things in the house
    * gardening – At my house, that usually means pulling weeds. It’s also free to divide plants and to move plants.
    * going to parties
    * exercising (jog or walk in the neighborhood, workout with friends at the gym, class at the gym, pick-up games at a school field)
    * re-watching movies I already own
    * mending

    Thanks for contributing to the Festival for Frugality

  3. so interesting that you wrote on this.

    my friend who has a 6 month old baby and who stopped working and i (taking a year off and living on my savings) talked about not doing our shopping sprees anymore.

    turns out that we both subscribe to the: out of sight out of mind theory.

    if we don’t go to the stores, we don’t know what we could’ve purchased for hella cheap (because it was deeply discounted AND because we really really needed it).

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