Spending Freezes

A little over a year ago (wow!) when MK and I decided to finally make this blog happen one thing that was (and still is) very important to us was keeping it real. We try to be very honest and open on here about things that are truly attainable and things that are wish list items. Our hope is posts like this and this, while somewhat mundane, display our real life and the immaterialist views we both share and posts like this and this convey that while we may not be able to purchase that fancy piece of furniture or bag we’re lusting after it’s still fun to look and possibly save for. In an effort to keep things real I’d love to talk about something that’s been on my mind a lot lately, finances.  

Andy and are both very good savers. We knew this about each other before we got married, (probably even one thing we liked about each other – nerds!) we’ve always been this way. But beyond our day to day spending/saving habits we’ve recently started putting ourselves on small spending freezes. I know I’ve mentioned here and there that we have some financial goals we were hoping to accomplish so big picture we evaluate our finances monthly and if/when we’re close to a new big goal we stop spending completely. It may sound crazy, but it’s even crazier how long you can live without much spending!
The basic concept is that eliminating all (or most) of our daily expenses can push us to achieve our next goal. During a freeze we essentially try to eliminate 100% of our daily expenses, the flex piece being groceries. We don’t starve ourselves, but we do try to use mostly items we have on hand and keep our grocery bills to a minimum, just fresh produce. We typically keep things like beans, dried pastas, tortillas, frozen shrimp, eggs and salsas on hand so in a pinch during freeze weeks we can make a shrimp scampi pasta, shrimp or bean tacos/burritos and huevos rancheros for dinner. These are pretty standard in our dinner rotation but when combined into one or two weeks it keeps our grocery bill super low. That combined with no picking up coffee, no picking up lunch at the office, no dinner dates, no new clothes or accessories for our house allows us to put most of our take home income straight to savings.

Our most recent financial goal we set was to be ready to buy a house.  While we’ve always been saving to buy a house and casually looking as things come available we knew that in the upcoming year or so we would probably be financially and mentally ready to buy.  The housing market here is a bit tricky in the areas we are interested in because there isn’t much inventory and most houses are sold within days of being on the market (if not before then).  Just laying this out so we don’t sound crazy when you read the next few sentences…

In early March a friend reached out to us about an estate sale across the street from her (hey Amanda!). She inquired about the house hosting the sale and found out it would be sold after finalizing the estate sale.  MK and I quickly got in the car and headed that way, after walking through it, I was sold.  Even Virginia liked it and she's a skeptical little thing!  I came home that day and mentally walked Andy (who was on drugs from his surgery still!) through the entire house. Unfortunately the daughters running the estate sale were unable to sell us the house because they had a trustee handling the estate on their behalf.  At that point we put ourselves on a spending freeze. We knew we were financially ready to buy, but that a spending freeze would give us more room for any unforeseen costs and more room for bidding too.  Fast forward two months (longest spending freeze we’ve ever done) the house officially went on the market and after a long few days of bidding wars we didn’t get the house. Not going to lie I was devastated, there were tears involved (I can be dramatic). (It's really tricky to compete with house flippers with deep cash pockets!)  But now it’s fine, we moved on and now have an even better little cushion to sit on until another house we love comes available. While I was so upset when this was happening, looking back it just made me thankful we love our current little rental home and thankful we sacked away all that money the last two months that we can now put towards vacations in 2014.

A few things to note – I’m guessing it’s much easier to do a freeze without children. I have no clue how it would work but I’m guessing you could do something similar. It's also easier to do with a spouse or significant other. It feels lonely to stay in alone and cook a meal from things in your pantry but with others it’s just a small challenge that you can enjoy together! So if you’re single invite a friend over to “clean out your pantry."  A real friend won’t judge and it’s equally as entertaining as a restaurant without the people watching :). If you guys have any money savings tips, we'd love to hear!

- Heath

image via The Everygirl


  1. I start every morning reading the blog - such a great way to begin the day! The posts are inspiring and fun and realistic! This is my favorite post yet. (And I'll tell you - a two-month spending freeze is definitely something Josh could get behind! ;o)) So sorry you didn't get the house, Heath (and Amanda!). I'll keep my fingers crossed that another one will come along soon. :o)

    1. Thanks Meredith, so happy to hear that! And you're right our house is still out there :)