How a ‘No Buy” Month Brought Unexpected Savings

 Earlier this month, I talked about the challenge I set for myself to do a “No Buy July” to save money and do a mid-year reset. I got this idea from Kathi Lipp, author, and podcaster at “Clutter Free Academy.”

A no-buy month is pretty basic: you pay attention to spending and do not make unnecessary purchases. I thought this would be perfect for discovering where I was spending money and what habits I may need to change. And the money saved is the goal!  

My husband was supportive of this experiment, but he did not join me. While he was happy about my successes, his main concern was that he would still have dinner after work and clean clothes for the week! (And since he didn’t add “clean house,” I managed just fine!) 

My main tactics for the month: (1) refrain from drive-thru restaurants (unless I had a gift card or reward points), cease online shopping (deleting those sale emails before opening them!), and use up as much as possible from my freezer and pantry inventory.

Did I have success? July was the ideal month to complete this challenge, saving me money in more areas than I thought!

Here is a recap of just some of what happened this month. I referred to the saying Kathi uses:   

Use it up,
Wear it out,
Make do, or
Do without.

Use it Up

With only three grocery shops for staples and other necessities during the month, I managed most of the family meals with food on-hand in the pantry and freezer.  

Because I couldn’t buy pre-prepared meals at the grocery store, I made extra dinner servings each day to have leftovers for my husband and son to take to work.

There was only one dinner emergency – when my 19-year-old son wanted spaghetti.

As we grabbed ingredients, I went to the pantry to grab a sauce jar of sauce … except there wasn’t any! I almost told my son that we would have to make something else – when I realized – I could just make my own! I googled for a simple sauce recipe (you can see it at the end of this post). It was quick, easy, and tasty. 

Gold star for me.

Wear it Out

On July 20, I made another “shopping trip” to the garage freezer to take out meat for dinner, but something wasn’t right. There was no collected ice on the sides of the freezer and no blast of cold air when I opened the lid. The loaves of bread were thawed (but the meat was still rock solid). I first thought it may have been three months of 100-degree temps here in Texas that caused an issue. It was the compressor.

The good news: I had been checking the freezer daily, so I immediately saw the issue before I had spoiled food. And – because I was emptying the inside freezer, I now had room to bring in the food from the garage. No lost money on spoiled food.  

I believe we can add the freezer to this category since we seemed to have worn it out!

Make Do

Last week, we ran out of bottled iced tea. We drink a lot of tea, which is hard to “do without.” Typically, someone would have made a trip to the convenience store. I remembered (from doing inventory at the beginning of the month) that there were tea bags in the pantry. I dug out my ice tea maker, and we had more tea in 15 minutes. We “made do” without a trip to the store.  

Gold star #2.

Do Without

To get rid of some clutter, I spent time collecting things to donate. We made one drop at the Goodwill and a “Free-will” offer of things to my neighbors on our community Facebook page.

We could do without two streaming channel services, so they were canceled. We haven’t missed them.  

The extreme heat in Texas kept me home often, which made it easy to stay away from eating out. The bonus: I only had to fill the gas tank once this month, saving money!

Lessons Learned

This month was a great test to determine where the money went on unnecessary purchases. I realized that I am definitely a convenience shopper. I purchase many premade meals from the grocery store and fast food on the go. I  grab bottled water when I’m out instead of using my stainless-steel bottle from home. I make more runs to the grocery store because I don’t plan ahead, and I shop for things online I really don’t need.

Doing this challenge also made me more cognizant of other places to save money, such as doing larger laundry loads and combining more errands in a day to save gas.

Money saved

The best way for me to see if it was a good month was by checking my bank account today.

Drumroll, please . . .

I saved $550! That amount was moved right over to the savings account.

Why not try a “no-buy” month sometime this year? Choose a month where there are no vacations or big events or holidays. Create a plan in advance – write down categories where you want to save money (eating out, shopping online, etc.). Also, list some ways to make money that month (holding a garage sale, selling back books or technology, rebate apps, or eBay.

Tell me in the comments if you may try a “no-buy” month and where you will save the most money!


Quick & Tasty Pantry Spaghetti Sauce

2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 tsp minced garlic
2 – 15 oz cans tomato sauce (or crushed tomatoes)
2 – 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp Italian Seasoning blend (click
HERE for my recipe to make your own!)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp sugar (or 2 tsp, to taste), I used Truvia
½ tsp crushed red pepper (optional)

Sauté the onion in the olive oil over medium-high heat, until tender. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in remaining ingredients and bring mixture to a low simmer, stirring frequently. Let simmer for 20 minutes, breaking up the diced tomato as you stir.  


3 responses to “How a ‘No Buy” Month Brought Unexpected Savings”

  1. That's awesome! It's amazing how much we can save but still not go hungry. LOL I'm glad you didn't lose any freezer food from the thaw!

  2. I love this. You did great! Not sure how you saved $550 unless that's what you would have spent otherwise. I am impressed. Thanks for sharing

  3. I too stopped online shopping for the last 2 weeks of July and just looking at the cart I abandoned made me feel goof.An inspiration post for doing more with less.

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