Laine's Letters. The No Spend Year.

 Dear Sisters,

I was talking to my older daughter, Abbie, at the end of December 2018 about saving money.  The new year was just around the corner, and saving money in the new year to come was a popular topic at that time. Abbie knows I ask the LORD often that He would prepare me for what is coming, and that I might be ready for it.  I am not thinking anything catastrophic, but more about being ready to take care of my family through something that might arise. I have prayed this prayer for many years and have seen the LORD answer time and time again in so many different ways. I was asking again for His direction for the coming year.
"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." Psalm 90:12
At this particular time I felt that I should embark on a No Spend Year for 2019. I thought perhaps the LORD was preparing me for my husband's upcoming retirement in the next few years and living on Social Security/Retirement funds. I told Abbie that I was going to make a specific budget and stick to it without spending any extra money for the entire year.
A No Spend Year.
I decided to follow an online group who were doing the same thing for the year of 2019. Everyone was helping each other to stay the course and not spend money. It was all so exciting - like we were going on a big trip together.😊 I didn't tell anyone what I was planning, except Abbie and my husband. Honestly, I think my husband even forgot about it. 
I dived in on January 1st, 2019. I was officially starting a No Spend Year.
We have been completely debt free since 2003. So I wasn't trying to pay off debt. Rather, I was seeing how little we could live on for a year in preparation for Social Security life. I try very hard to save as much money as I can to ease my husband's work load. I consider that an important part of my job as a full time homemaker. Art brings it home, and I do my best to stretch it all. It's been our basic plan for years and years. So I wasn't sure just how much extra I was going to be able to save in this No Spend year. We tithe, give, have our weekly allowances, and pay for all the basics including piano lessons, so our budget is already pretty straight forward.  But there is always something to learn. And I knew I was going to learn a lot through this exercise.
I found out quickly that I save the most money when I don't go anywhere. The minute I get behind the wheel of our car I am already spending money on gas. The more I stayed home the more money I saved. I found out quickly also that it was easier for me to practice the No Spend during the school year. I am home schooling, so that takes up a bulk of my day. I don't go anywhere during the work week, except to Lucy's piano lesson and food shopping on Wednesday.
But when summer hit, I felt the No Spend more deeply as I'm more free with my time to do what I'd like. I always do my Christmas shopping and some of my birthday shopping during summer break. So I did this right away. (I still kept a budget for birthdays and Christmas in my No Spend as that was important to me.) I love playing "Beat the Budget" to see if I can save money in these areas. It took me a couple weeks to get all my shopping done for my 11 grandchildren, but I did beat the budget after praying and seeking out good deals. This was all done the first two weeks of summer in June..
From that point on, I stayed home the rest of the summer. I decluttered and reconfigured my house, I organized, I watched You Tubers make meals on $10 a week (those were my favorite), I collected lots of frugal recipes and tried many, I canned, I gardened, and I got books from the library. Lots of books.  I had plenty to do and was never bored, but it was an unusual summer in that I didn't go much of anywhere. Lucy, my younger daughter, noticed! I took her to the library at least twice a week, swimming at my son's house, and had the grandkids over. 
 Twice in the summer I spent money at our local thrift shop on items I could have definitely passed over. After those two spends, I didn't go again. By the end of the summer I really started to see more and more savings! It was amazing. 
Then school started in the middle of August, so I was back on my school schedule again, which was easier for me. I carried on until the end of December with my No Spend plan. I did receive cash for my birthday from my parents. So that was fun to use at a community garage sale in December as I hadn't shopped in quite awhile. I still remember how fun it was!
I got used to staying home more and more all the time. I had no idea, of course, that in 2020 there would be a pandemic requiring people to stay home. I remember telling Abbie that I had been home so much in 2019 that everything felt the same in 2020. The LORD had indeed prepared me for what was to come! I am still amazed by it. 
What did I learn about in my No Spend year? Well, I learned that I can do without a lot of things. I think it also taught me what is valuable to spend money on: setting up my long term pantry, preparing for an electrical outage, buying seeds and plants for my garden plots, and preparing for winter. 
We didn't have any big expenses the year of 2019. It was a pretty quiet year for us, financially speaking. So as I said before, my husband pretty much forgot about my No Spend. It was an exercise I will never forget though. I am so glad I did it. I find that I can go to a garage sale or a thrift shop now and be more discerning. I also find shopping for food to be absolutely delightful.
Someone might be thinking how in the world did I get my husband to do this? Well, I didn't try to change his spending at all, just mine. So for him it was business as usual. Every week we both get a personal allowance and a gas allowance. I just didn't use mine. I kept it in our account and watched it grow for a whole year, pretty much. .
So I saved about $1700 in my No Spend year. I think I really saved more. I'm being conservative. It was like a snowball of savings that grew and grew slowly all year. It surprised me! And I learned that I can do a lot with what we have already on hand - many times over. 
2020 has been a crazy year. Yet in a way I was preparing for it... xc   
Thank you, LORD.


  1. Thank you for your posts, Laine. Figuring out how to use what we have might be a necessity and not an option going forward. May God bless you and protect you.

  2. Thank you for this post Laine-You’ve inspired me! My husband is
    Looking to retire in 18 months-(Lord willing)- we’ve been researching and configuring $$$.

  3. Thank you for posting another Laine letter to help us on our journey. Nancy

  4. I think we were cured of overspending in 2018 when we spent the year going through our home top to bottom and getting rid of 15 van loads of stuff we no longer needed. At least 60% was from the years of raising five children in this house but way too much was from thrift stores and yard sales and things we did not get enough use out of to have justified taking up space here. In 2020 my pocket money just added up and was not spent but now I have about $1000 that I can use to really buy something that is needed when it comes up which is a great comfort when you are retired.

  5. Such Godly wisdom, Laine...thank you.

  6. So true about the act of simply staying home saving you money! 🤎 great practical post!

  7. I am so glad Laine is writing again! Her letters are always so encouraging!

  8. Just found your blog and WOW! What a great story of your blessing. Thanks so much for sharing it as it has given me courage to move forward with my no-spend decision.

    1. Hi and welcome Rozy! All of Laine's Letters will bless you I am sure! xxx

  9. Thank you for this update, they inspire me so much, and have for years! I have your recipe for cinnamon rolls in the bread machine right now !



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