No Spend 2021

IMG_7400

Simon looks a little irritated he cannot reach the birds he sees out the window.

The pandemic has been playing havoc with everyone’s finances. It has been at least a decade since I have had this much difficulty making ends meet. One of my favorite bloggers, Courtney Carver, has a saying “instead of trying to make ends meet, focus on having fewer ends.” To accomplish this, I am going to institute a no spend 2021.

No spend challenges are typically trials that last for a short amount of time. Most people will institute a no spend challenge for one month or maybe three months. If successful with the short term challenges, sometimes they are extended for a year. It is an extreme method of trying to bring finances under control and save money. 

Given that I have been paying 3-4x for food in the pandemic and have been having challenges meeting my basic needs, I feel it is necessary to institute a no spend challenge for the entire 2021 calendar year. On top of the struggles I am already enduring, we are scheduled to begin repaying our student loans again in January. The relief from student loan payments for the pandemic will be ending unless the new administration decides to bail us out of our student loans.

Given that I am instituting a no spend challenge, I can tell you right now, that if you are looking for people to stimulate the economy, it’s not going to be me. I do not have enough disposable income to stimulate the economy. Disposable income is an oxymoron in this pandemic.

No spend challenges look a little different for everyone. Each person who does a no spend challenge has their own rules. It’s best to use the rules that work best for you. 

Here are the rules for my No Spend 2021:

  1. Only pay for needs. This includes things like mortgage, electric, gas, etc. While they are primarily fixed expenses, I am doing my best to try to decrease each one. For example, I have lowered my heat 3 degrees this winter compared to the temperature I had my thermostat on last winter. Yes, we are cold. But I can’t afford heat. I have to cut back.

Reducing fixed expenses is something I have been working on over a period of time. 

Over the years as part of my minimalist journey, I have made some behavior changes that have served to decrease my fixed expenses. Some of these include my movement away from paper products towards reusable items. If I am not buying disposable items, then I am saving money. Examples of this have been my transition to cloth handkerchiefs, cloth feminine hygiene products, replacing paper towels with cleaning cloths and cloth pee rags.

  1. The only expense I have that is not fixed but is still a need, is food. More on my food strategy will be coming in another post.
  1. Beyond needs, the only purchase I am authorizing for 2021 are new running socks. First, even though last year I updated my regular socks, underwear, and bras, I did not update my running gear. In fact, what I typically do is “retire” something from everyday use and start using it for running. This combined with the fact that I am very rough on running gear means that my socks are either threadbare or full of holes in the toes and heals.

Instead of just spending $20 on a package of 6 white socks that will probably only last me one running season, I have decided to invest in 6 pairs of Darn Tough socks. I anticipate that the Darn Tough socks will hopefully last me 3 running seasons instead of just one. Plus, with their replacement guarantee, it is totally worth the investment. I love supporting small American businesses, especially during this time. If I can support a small business even during a no spend year, then I am going to do so. So I will be saving money and trying to gradually replace all my running socks during 2021 with Darn Tough socks instead of a cheapo white 6-pack. 

The Goal

My goal with a no spend year is to replenish my savings that has been completely decimated by the pandemic. Not only is my savings gone, but I have had to use my credit card for groceries, so I need to get that paid off. 

My no spend 2021 will hopefully help me pay off the credit card and get money into my savings. I need savings to be able to cover house maintenance, car maintenance, and cat needs. So obviously, those three items are not included in the no spend year. 

For many people, instituting a no spend plan is very hard. Many people spend money on books, clothing, take-out coffee, prepared (not grocery – prepared) food delivery, etc. If you are one of those people, then it is going to be more difficult to institute a no spend plan because you are going to feel like you are giving something up. That’s because you are giving something up. No spend challenges are hard. That’s why it’s a challenge.

While an entire no spend year may seem extreme and overwhelming, try a no spend week or a no spend month. If you try a no spend week and it seems too painful, you can always stop. For me, a no spend year is a financial necessity in the pandemic. I do not have any disposable income and I really need to get money back into my savings account to cover any emergencies that may come up (on top of the global pandemic we are all experiencing). 

 Have you ever tried a time period of no spend? How did it go?

Buzzcut Pros & Cons

IMG_1815

I shaved off my pixie.

Yes, I did shave all my hair off. I am very happy with it. No one has really seen me to say anything about it. I am anticipating a bunch of negative feedback, since I got some pretty negative remarks when I had a pixie.

I have now had to shave my head twice, so the clippers have officially paid for themselves. Every single time I use them from here on out is money “saved” by not going to the salon. 

The first time I used the clippers, I went conservative. I had no clue what I was doing or getting myself into. If I did not like it, I wanted to be sure to leave enough length to be able to return to my pixie. So the first time I used the clippers, I primarily used the # 4 guard. I used the # 1 guard to clean up around my ears and the back of my neck.

Two weeks after that, my hair was growing and out of control. The second time I used the clippers, I decided to use the # 1 guard on my entire head. Part of the reasoning for this is so that I can hopefully go a month between haircuts instead of having to do it every other week.

In the past 3-4 weeks, I have officially buzzed my head twice. Given that I am at about the one month mark of having a shaved head, I figured I would share some pros and cons.

Pros:

  • I’m saving money. Look, I have been hemorrhaging money on food and supplies ever since this pandemic started. Trying to meet my basic needs has blown my budget all to hell. I have to save money somewhere. The only thing that could potentially be cut out of my budget short of turning off the lights or the water is to get rid of my salon bill. I typically spend $50 a month on my hair. The clippers were $60. Now that I have used the clippers twice, they have paid for themselves. That is now $50 per month I can put towards food. I apologize to my hairdresser, who I think is totally awesome. But this is one instance in which I am breaking up with you, and it totally is me, not you. My hairdresser did not do anything wrong. It’s just, you know, the pandemic killing my budget for the foreseeable future.

 

  • I feel cooler. My neurological disorder is exacerbated by heat. Shaving all my hair off is helping me to feel cooler. In fact, sometimes I feel chilled. I will deal with it. It’s much better than the “MS walk” – which is basically when the heat makes you stagger around like you’re drunk, except you’re not – you just lost all control of your body due to excessive heat and you walk like that for days on end. I wish I had thought to shave my head about 5 years ago when these neuro issues all started. I still get the MS walk, but it’s a little bit easier to keep myself cooler now with no hair, so I can prolong the time before the MS walk starts.

 

  • Showering is so much easier. In fact, I do not have to shower as often. It’s not as if my hair is sticking up in unnatural looking ways anymore when I get up in the morning. I can get in and out of the shower quickly. It saves both water and time.

 

  • Safety. Due to the pandemic, anytime I do leave my house, I shower when I return home. Granted, the only places I am going right now are outside to run and into my work office when no one else is there, but I feel safer showering once I return home to “clean” myself of any potential exposure I may have had while out. Since my hair no longer necessitates a morning shower, I can now shower at the end of the day (or any time of day) once I have returned home. This was especially helpful when I was on a walk the other day and not a single person outside was wearing a mask. I digress. The point is, I am no longer chained to the routine of a morning shower to tame my wayward hair. I can shower at any time of day. 

 

  • It goes with everything. I do not have to worry about a style. I just go, go, go. I feel like I have more freedom with less hair. I am in control of my head and my hair. I do not have to try to get an appointment, drive to a salon, sit there & wait. When it needs to be shaved, I just pick up the clippers and do it. 

 

  • Cleaning is easier. When I sweep, mop, or vacuum, there is less hair to clean up since I shaved it all off. Anyone who has long hair knows, it’s like you shed hair everywhere, and are constantly cleaning it up. I live with three (luckily short-haired) cats, so there is enough fur flying around. But honestly, when my hair was long, I had more human hair to clean up than cat hair. My house seems like it’s cleaner and easier to clean with less hair all over the place. 

 

  • If I die, I want to be cremated. There will be no viewing. Who cares if I have hair? You’re supposed to remember who I am as a person, not my hair. Besides, I already planned my memorial service, and you will have a playlist of 26.2 songs in the key of life to keep you busy. If you all stand around talking about how I shaved my head, I will come back and haunt you.

Cons:

  • I am now wearing hats when I go outside so I do not accidentally sunburn my head. I have a note on the door reminding me when I leave the house to wear my medical alert, a mask, and a hat. I feel like an astronaut on a spacewalk every time I leave my house.

 

  • I’m worried people won’t know I’m a girl. I had this worry when I got my pixie, and it ended up being unfounded. Everyone knew I was a girl when I had my pixie. But with a shaved head, I cannot even put a Hello Kitty bow in it anymore. That’s okay. One of my hats is pink. I’m still a girl, whether you think so or not.

 

  • Negative comments. I received many negative comments when I had my pixie (especially from men) saying I should grow my hair out again because it was unattractive. Apparently, only long hair is considered attractive on women. I’m a little scared of what people are going to say to me now that I have shaved my head. If they were mean about the pixie, I’m sure the negative comments will get worse. Let me tell you, that I am the one who has to live with the hair on my head, and I do not want to have to deal with long hair again. It is way too much hassle. I’m unsure if I will keep it shaved or return to a pixie, but I’m not growing it. Long hair is too much trouble. I am worried about being seen as unattractive with a buzzcut. I guess I don’t really need people to say it out loud to me and confirm my fears. 

Conclusions:

I am very happy I shaved my head. As with my pixie, I wish I had done this years ago. To be honest, my life would have been a whole lot easier when I was homeless if my head was shaved. The conundrum is that when you are homeless, you don’t have money for haircuts, so you just leave your hair long and stringy looking. The point is, a buzzcut is very versatile and gives me much more freedom than any other haircut I have had. 

I am unsure if I will continue to shave my head in the fall and winter once it gets cold. For now, this is the perfect summer haircut. It is helping me to stay cooler, and is totally working with my life at the moment. We all know life is changing every minute during the pandemic. I really like that I can shave my head myself and do not need to rely on someone else right now. 

I have no regrets over my buzzcut.