The Spending Initiative
We tried many different types of budgets and “no-spend” challenges in the last year, hoping to find something that worked out well for us. We would plan a no-spend month and think it was going to work and then something would pop up that ended up ruining the whole thing for us. And you know as well as I do that when something comes along that ruins your budget it’s hard to bounce back and get back on track.
Discouraged by our lack of success but still determined to come up with something different that would work well for our family, I came up with the Spending Initiative towards the end of the year. For a few months we gave it a test run without making it “the rule” and we really liked the results. This year we plan on following our Spending Initiative through the entire year so I wanted to share it with you, maybe it’s something you’d like to do too?
First, I’d like to share some of my thoughts behind the Initiative and why I came up with the questions that I did. Please note that the Spending Initiative does not include consumables (such as food).
- We want to spend less and make it harder for us to spend more than we need to.
- No-spend doesn’t work for a long period of time. Eventually there are things that will need to be replaced!
- We want to make sure we are spending our hard earned money on quality items that will hopefully last a long time. I don’t mind spending a little extra if it means that item is going to last me 5 extra years!
- We want to shop locally when possible. Having a local business now and being involved in the local chamber of commerce has made us realize so many things about why it’s important to buy local.
So without further ado, here are the 8 questions we will be asking ourselves before we make a purchase.
- Is it made from quality materials?
- Will it last 10+ years? (5 for clothing)
- Is it made locally?
- Is it something I have a specific use for?
- Can we make it instead?
- Do we have something else we could use?
- Who are we supporting if we buy it?
- How long will I have to work to pay for this?
And here’s a short explanation of each of the questions.
Is it made from quality materials? This question is mostly to keep us from buying things that are plastic or cheaply made. For clothing we want to look for things made from natural fibers.
Will it last 10+ years? (5 for clothing) My hubby isn’t a fan of this question because it will be a harder one to achieve but I think it’s necessary! No use spending more on an item if it isn’t going to last longer than a cheaper item. Obviously not everything we buy is going to last 10 years but in general this question will help us make better choices on items and for clothing I put a 5 year minimum (for adult clothes) on the purchase life so we aren’t tricked into buying something “trendy”.
Is it made locally? We know we can’t get everything made locally but we want to try first. And if it’s not something made locally, is it made in the US or another country we want to support?
Is it something I have a specific use for? Seems almost like a silly question but how often do we go to the store and buy something “cute” or “pretty” only to bring it home and not have a specific use for it so it ends up collecting dust? No more at our house!
Can we make it instead? This is something I want to work on this year, making more than buying. Both me and my husband are talented in different ways and have a large range of skills we can use to make things.
Do we have something else we could use? Am I buying something just to replace it because I feel like I need to or do I have a different item that I could use in it’s place that would fill the same purpose?
Who are we supporting if we buy it? Going along with the buying local question, we also want to try to buy more items that support a family run business or a good cause before we buy from a mass retailer.
How long will I have to work to pay for this? The money question….we need to think about how much we make per hour and how many hours it will take us to pay for this item we are wanting. This one really makes you rethink a purchase!
For us to buy an item, not every question must be answered correctly but each question must be asked before we make a purchase which will make us more aware of what we are buying and less likely to buy something that we don’t really need or that is a foolish purchase.
If you are challenged to follow along with us in this Spending Initiative this year, I turned our questions into a simple printable that you can hang on your fridge or take with you to the store. Click the link above to download the freebie.
What kind of questions do you ask yourself before you make a purchase?