Nothing New Challenge: Month 1 Update

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We are one month into our challenge. We got off to a great start, but stumbled towards the end of the month. With the threat of Hurricane Harvey, August may not have been the best month to begin a "Buy Nothing New" Challenge. Despite this threat towards the end of the month, we still did a pretty good job of keeping our purchases to used items very low.

August Spending Report:

  • Auto: $1,119.27
    • Gas
    • Tolls
    • Repairs (Replaced my wife's visor in her car and Replaced my Windshield)
  • Clothing: $156.91 
    • Both of our running shoes were in bad shape
    • We decided to buy new running shoes in preparation for our half-marathons that we will be running later on in the fall.
    • In preparation for that half-marathon, we have a 10-k coming up in the middle of the September.
  • Dining: $558.40 
    • Higher than normal
    • Family/Friends visited and we treated them to dinner a couple of times
  • Donations: $566 
  • Entertainment: $427.80 
    • Season Tickets
    • Top Golf: Visited with family and friends.
  • Gifts: $20
  • Groceries: $668.08
  • Health & Fitness: $40.79
  • Household: $52
    • Portable Charger
  • Insurance: $1,159.94
    • Auto Insurance for the whole year
    • Homeowners Insurance by the month
  • Medical: $196.75
    • 9-month check-up for my daughter
    • My daughter got Hand, Foot and Mouth
    • Chiropractor for my wife
  • Mortgage: $1,081.81
    • Interest
    • Taxes
  • My Kids: $1,094.92
    • Daycare
    • Toys/High Chair
  • Utilities: $761.90
    • Streaming TV Service
    • Internet
    • Water
    • Electricity
    • Natural Gas
    • Cell Phones
  • Vacation/Travel: $11
    • Parking at the Airport to pick up Guests

GRAND TOTAL: $7,916.27

Dang! We spent $7,916 in August and that doesn't include any of the money that was put towards savings. When looking at our expenses, you will see three categories over $1,000 (My Kids, Auto, and Insurance) Daycare will be close to that number every month, because daycare costs that much in Texas (if you can believe that). It's amazing to think about how much daycare costs us.

With the cost of insurance, August should be the only month with this large of an expense. Both my homeowners and auto insurance renewed in August. The renewal rates with my insurance company increased too much for my liking. Therefore, I shopped my insurance options and I was able to get my insurance rate to drop by $600 a year for auto and $400 a year for homeowners.

I made the switch and signed the documents. Our new auto insurance company offered a $100 discount if you paid the whole year in full. Thus, we paid the whole year in full to saved an extra $100 per month. Previously, the other insurer offered a better deal if you paid month-to-month. This made a big change to our monthly expenses in August, but will be a welcome savings each month after!

Similarly, our auto expenses were much higher this month than normal. Our expenses were larger, because we needed to replace my windshield in my car, because of damage received during the storm. With my wife's car, I made the repair by replacing her visor.

Those three categories caused our expenses to jump this month. Take away our large insurance expense and our large auto expenses, we would have spent less than $6,000.

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Did we stay away from buying anything new?

My wife and I were on fire at the beginning of the month finding used toys/items to purchase for our daughter and we were gifted some items from a family. We spent a total of $40 on used toys/items in August. We got all of the following items in the pictures below:

We had been talking about getting this for our daughter. Found it on a classifieds site for $20 used!

We had been talking about getting this for our daughter. Found it on a classifieds site for $20 used!

These items were given to us by a family member.

These items were given to us by a family member.

By August 23rd, we were still on track to purchase nothing new. We had bought some new shoes, but they were allowed based on the rules that we had set at the beginning of the challenge. However, the news of Hurricane Harvey in the Gulf of Mexico caused us to make two unplanned new purchases that did not fall into the categories specified at the beginning of the challenge.

With the threat of a storm like this, there is always the possibility of power outages. To prepare, we decided to purchase a portable charger in case we lost power and needed to charge our phones. This would allow us to still communicate with family and stay updated on anything that was going on with the storm. 

We also purchased a battery pack that my wife could use to pump in case we lost power. All other purchases made in preparation for the storm were included in the parameters set at the beginning of the challenge.

Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey Update

Luckily, we received minimal damage in our ceiling from a leak in the roof that was discovered during the 7 straight hours of heavy rainfall we received on Sunday night. Other than that, we were some of the few lucky people to sneak out without any flooding issues. We were on edge through parts of the storm, and we count our blessings. 

We understand that there are many people less fortunate than us that are picking up the pieces and trying to figure out how to make ends meet in September. They have a huge repair bill and may not have flood insurance. 

We are going to help as much as we can with the relief efforts. We plan on donating time and money to the relief efforts in Houston. We have already started to help friends with the tear down of the flood affected areas of their houses. 

The relief efforts will continue for months and possibly even a year here in Houston. If you feel the need to help out with the victims of Harvey, I have listed some resources below:

This is the first time in my life that I have ever experienced or been this close to hurricane. Growing up in the north, I dealt with tornadoes but not hurricanes. This experience was nerve wracking to say the least. It has also been amazing to see all the help that multiple people have been willing to give to each other to help everyone recover. 

One Down, Two to Go!

I think my wife and I are off to a pretty good start in our three month challenge. Sure, we slipped up towards the end, but nobody can predict a natural disaster like Harvey. Sometimes you gotta roll with the punches that this life gives. We were dealt a major catastrophic event and survived! That's something to celebrate right there. 

This challenge has been pretty fun for us so far and we are even finding creative ways to purchase gifts/items. For example, I lost my fitbit this month and my wife said, "I think I have a creative way to get you a fitbit without spending any money." Her idea: use her points from work to purchase a 'new' fitbit. Does it count as buying something new, if you don't spend any money? In my opinion, if you don't spend's fair game. Thoughts?

Would you have made the same decision as a way to stay connected to family and friends? Answer in the comments section below.

Reaching the Financial Summit, Starts with You!

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