January Low Spend and Decluttering Challenge: FINAL UPDATE!

January is the month where I feel like I get a start over in redoing our finances and also a redo of our house, when I get rid of excess and feel the urge to declutter. So I was so excited to see that the lovely Carla over at My 1/2 Dozen Daily was hosting a January Decluttering and No/Low Spend Challenge. I have decided to join in!
Here is update #4 otherwise known as THE FINAL UPDATE:
It is hard to believe that the January challenge is over. It was a month of learning. It was a month of decluttering. It was a month of spending less, or at least being more conscious about my spending. It was a month of mini challenges. So how did I do:

On our mini challenges:

Week 1 we focused on making do and decluttering stuff from our house. I blogged about my success here.

Week 2, we focused on bringing in extra money and cleaning out your junk drawer. I blogged about my success here.

Week 3, we focused on giving in some way and decluttering a closet. I blogged about my success here.

This past week, the mini challenges were:

FINANCIAL:  Whatever your budget is for the week, cut it. Can you cut it down 10%, 25%, maybe even in half for the week? Figure out a realistic cut, then put the extra towards debt or a savings goal!  I tried this. I really did. I thought I would be able to put about $50 toward debt, however I had an emergency doc visits and meds that set me back over $100. So that was not a success. However, I have found that I am much more aware of where my money is going.

DECLUTTERING: It's time to organize our food stash! Your pantry, cupboards you keep food in, fridge, freezer, etc... take inventory of what you have, organize it, toss any old, expired foods, make a menu plan using up any items that are nearing their "best before" day, donate foods you won't eat, etc... Don't forget to snap before & after photos!! If you've already done this over the month, well, you're off the hook!! ;)  I was able to organize our pantry shelf, our upright freezer and our fridge! I only took pics of the freezer though for some odd reason.



SO, for the mini goals that Carla challenged us on I think I will give myself an A! I think I did a great job with the mini challenges and am proud of what I accomplished.
Now on to MY main goals for January!
My MAIN goals for this January challenge:

- Financial goals:
  • Spend no more than $320 on food for the month. (This averages out to $80 a week). I need to get our grocery budget down as this past 2 months we have been averaging $130 a week for our family due to illnesses and holidays. FAIL---I went over this by about $80. That is still only $400 for the month, which is less than the previous 2 months. So was it a huge fail? No. But still a fail. I think what put me over was the fact that there were many things in the last 2 weeks that went on super duper sale that I stocked up on that I know that my family uses regularly. So, even though I went over, I am okay with it for the most part. I plan on continuing to work on this throughout February.
  • Spend no more than $150 on household items (diapers, wipes, toilet paper, Tide, dish detergent and trash bags) PASS---I ended this with $10 left! I think I finally have an idea of what we spend for non-food stuff so I can budget accordingly now.
  • No Eating out FAIL--- We ate out 3 times, however life happens (we get sick, we are tired,) and I am not going to beat myself up. Instead I am going to try harder in February. I think that for Lent we are going to give up eating Fast food, so that will be a good jump off point.
    • Hubby and I are looking into buying new cell phones (ours are over 3 years old) and getting a cheaper plan (if we buy pre-paid we could potentially save $30 a month over our current bill)--We bought new phones and got new plans! It will save us over $60 a  month on our cell phone bills! I am so happy about this !!!!
    • We have to get a title and tags for our new to us van that we were gifted--Did this this morning. It cost us less than I thought and we paid cash we had on hand to get it done!
    • This does not affect our utilities, rent, gas for our vehicles, etc.--Ongoing
    • As always family emergencies, medical, dental, etc. are not counted against this as well.--Thankfully hubby's stress test came back fine. Still don't know what the cost is going to be. I had to spend over $100 out of pocket for doc visit and meds this week. Life happens.
-Decluttering goals:
  • I have one decluttering goal for this month---the huge closet (it is the size of a half room) off the bathroom that has become a dumping ground for stuff and storage. It is horrible! Would like to donate/sell at least half of the stuff in there.---ACCOMPLISHED (95%). I spent several hours cleaning and decluttering this area. And right now, it is 95% done. I still have some things that need to be listed on Craiglist in there, but the big project was the kids' clothes and those are all sorted, decluttered and neat now!
Here are my befores...

Here is a picture of just some of the stuff I donated from this closet/room:
And the FINISHED (95%) closet/room photos:

I am SO pleased with how this worked out this month. I love that I can walk in the room and find what I need when I need it. I still need to place the baby stuff on Craigslist to sale, but I am SO HAPPY with the results!
So there you have it....I think I did very well on the challenges overall and am grateful for the push to get some of these things done. Thank you to Miss CARLA for hosting this wonderful challenge! It was a ton of fun!


  1. Rachel, i'm SO proud of you!! You really did WONDERFULLY this month, especially because you were so sick at the same time! Congrat's on your success!! :)

  2. I would say you rocked the challenge, esp. given the illness and stress test. How scary; glad the stress test came back ok. And I think you have a great attitude!

  3. Way to go on your decluttering efforts. Baby steps towards the big finance changes :)

  4. Holy smokes on the decluttering! That is an amazing amount of stuff!!! Nice work. :-)


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