A Big, Fat Failure? No/Low Spend November Week 3

No Low Spend November

So how’s no/low spend November going over here? Frankly, this week was a rough one. Unexpected expenses cropped up, ones I should have expected came up, and I started spending my Christmas fund. Although I’m still doing well with not eating out, buying clothes, or impulse shopping – I’m not feeling like this was a particularly “low” week.

I’m on vacation from work this week, and oftentimes vacation = spending. When people asked me what I was planning on doing, I think they expected an answer involving travel. Honestly, I just have things to get done, and want to spend some time at home with the family. I don’t need to travel for Thanksgiving because my and my husbands families are both local, so instead we just have fun at home.

This week is a story of failures, and not letting them get you down. Read on for more!

I hope your no/low spend November is still going well – be sure to let me know in the comments if you’re doing better than I am!


I headed into the office, which I usually don’t on Friday (normally I work remotely), to attend a memorial service for a coworker who recently passed away from cancer. I had never met her in person, but we had worked together on a number of projects over the years. She was a kind, smart woman, and it was so sad to hear she had passed. She was only in her late 40’s…

It was a sad reminder to be thoughtful about what you’re doing with your life, because you never know what’s going to happen. Fortunately she had led a full life, with caring friends and family, lots of impact at work and through volunteering/charitable work.

Don’t wait to live your life “later”, because there might not be a later. At the same time, the memories people will share about you if you pass early don’t involve spending money. They involve spending time together, how you treat people, and the things you do.

Spending like there’s no tomorrow isn’t going to give you a full life.

Bills – Car and Home insurance. Also my husband did the main grocery shopping this week.


The first failure of the week – my hair.

I don’t get manicures, I don’t get massages, and I don’t buy new clothes. But I do spend money on my hair. Every eight weeks I get a cut and color, and I had totally forgotten about my appointment until I got a text message from my hairdresser on Friday.

I didn’t feel right canceling and having her lose out on the income, so I went to my appointment. My hairdresser is a local woman who operates on her own, so it’s not like there would be someone else to take my place. So I went and got my hair done, making my next appointment for January.

Hand Turkeys Painting Hand TurkeysI take full responsibility for this. I should have checked for appointments at the start of the month, and moved it then. Honestly, though, this is a good lesson. It’s easy to let a single failure like this to make you throw in the proverbial towel. Learning how to recover quickly is essential in financial success.

If you have a failure like this during a no/low spend month, don’t let it derail you into just giving up on the whole idea. Just accept it and move on. You’ll still be financially better off!

My older two boys headed off to camping with the Boy Scouts for the weekend, so only the little guy was home. We made hand turkeys and played together all day. It was fun!

Bills – None


White Whole Wheat Apple Coffee CakeI made a white whole wheat apple coffee cake for breakfast, and it was AMAZING. I had a leftover container of sour cream in the fridge, and had been looking for a way to use it up. Fortunately my mothers coffee cake recipe involves sour cream, so it was the perfect candidate. Yum!

Went out mid-morning to pick up the older boys from their camping trip, and both commented how they need snow boots. Unfortunately their usual hiking boots weren’t good defense against the snow. Now I need to keep an eye out for good bargains on snow boots! They both wear adult mens sizes, so unfortunately the kids consignment shop isn’t an option. Ugh.

White whole wheat goldfish Making homemade goldfishMy older son spent the afternoon at a friends house, and the little guy and I made white whole wheat goldfish.

I had gotten these fish cookie cutters off Amazon a while ago (affiliate link), and they make the most adorable crackers! They’re only three dollars, and I’ve used them a bunch of times. Technically they’re for clay but they make three sizes of crackers too.

Bills – None


Swimming lessonsVacation day! I got to go to swimming lessons with the little guy, and watch him swim at the YMCA. He’s a good little swimmer! And this was a rare treat, because usually I don’t get a chance to go with him. I also recorded a podcast for What’s Up Next, which should go out in early January. It’s a very interesting panel discussion format, and Fritz from Retirement Manifesto, Jim from White Coat Investor, the hosts and I all talked about whether you should quit your job when you reach FI.

Spoiler alert – we all seemed to agree that if you’re miserable in your job, you should find something else now.

In the evening we headed out to buy some food for the appetizer I brought to Thanksgiving. We had nuts, dried fruit, regular fruit, homemade crackers, meats and cheeses. A lot of different stuff to get, but it ended up amazing with plenty of leftovers. Yum.

Bills – Gas for my car, internet, cell phone for me


Today was a sort-of vacation day. I was off in the morning and had a chance to bring the little guy to preschool (another rare treat), and then my husband and I took a walk around the mall for some exercise. It was cold, wet and rainy outside, so outdoor activity was out. It was fun! We were walking around before the mall opened, so we had a chance to talk for a while and just walk around.

In the afternoon I had to log in for a few hours to attend several meetings. I took advantage of the time to clean out my e-mails too. I’m pretty sure almost no one was sending emails on Wednesday, so this should make Monday morning a breeze.

One of the ways I find balance is not working off hours except for very urgent situations – and my bar for urgent is high. I’m very productive while at work, but when I’m off I’m off. People have my cell phone number and can reach me in an emergency, but otherwise, my evenings, weekends and time off are my own. Over the course of my career I’ve known a lot of people who brag about working all the time – sending e-mails at 1 AM, talking about how they “worked all weekend”, and regularly working while on vacation.

I prefer being ultra-productive during the work day, working early or late if I need to, versus creating the illusion that I’m working 24×7.  It’s important to have a full life outside of work, and I do that by protecting my non-work time as best I can.

Hanging at the libraryIn the afternoon I got started on the whole wheat Parmesan crackers, and headed out to pick up supplies to create more characters for Nintendo Christmas World. The money for this comes out of the holiday budget, which I save for all year long, because technically they’re Christmas decorations. Decorating them will consume most of the weekend. After I picked up five pieces of plywood, ten dowels and two cans of paint (red and black), I headed to the library to hang out with my husband and the little guy. The older two were in scouts, as they are every Tuesday evening.

Bills – Cell phone for hubby, and boys scout dues needed to be paid for the year.


Making Nintendo Christmas WorldIn the morning I made a different batch of crackers – white whole wheat butter crackers. I used this recipe but subbed white whole wheat flour. They were pretty good! My husband wanted to keep eating them. I then spent most of the day on the floor, sketching out the Nintendo characters on plywood. I took a brief break at 3 PM to do a Twitter chat with Experian on holiday spending, and a break for lunch/dinner, but that was it.

Sadly my almost 40 year old back reminded me that I shouldn’t spend that much time on the floor. Ouch.

BUT I got all the characters sketched out. Now I just need to cut them out, paint them, and put them in the ground. I just hope the ground doesn’t freeze too much before I put them outside.

Bills – Milk for the little guy


Thanksgiving day! We headed out to the Manchester Road Race, fully expecting to walk the nearly five miles together as a family. I had registered us months ago.

But sadly, we failed.

The weather was brutally cold. At first we thought it wasn’t going to be too bad, and then the wind started. I was really worried about the little guy, particularly because we were planning to carry him for the whole way. He wouldn’t be walking and so would be even more likely to get cold.

It was so cold my fingers were turning red inside my gloves. My legs felt cold to the bone, and my oldest son said his felt like needles were sticking inside them. So we bought some hot cocoa from 7-11 to warm everyone up, and headed home.

At least the entry fee goes to charity! Safety first, especially with a three year old.

Thanksgiving brothersThen we had two Thanksgivings – one with my family, and one with my husbands family. Hence why we were planning the long walk. We ended the day totally stuffed, with lots of leftovers, and headed out to see Christmas lights at a local park.

Bills: Husbands car needed gas



In Conclusion

So this week was a bit of a bust. There was that haircut, the failed walk, and we got everyone hot cocoa.

But you know what? That’s OK. It’s OK to not succeed, or run into bumps in the road. That’s life! Stuff happens. It’s how you react to, and recover from, what’s happened that matters.

Instead of throwing in the towel on this whole idea, I’m doubling down for the final week of the month. We need to finish strong! Just one more week to go.

How are things going with you? Let me know in the comments! And also leave your best tips for recovering from failures.

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4 thoughts on “A Big, Fat Failure? No/Low Spend November Week 3”

  1. Thank you for your wise words of encouragement today. Several large and for the most part unplanned bills are looming within the next 2 weeks (vet and car repair). Add that to the regular Holiday expenses and some small upgrades for the house I had been planning. It’s been stressing me out. Yes the money is there but it still rattles me a bit to exceed my usual expenses by this much all at the same time. Much easier to handle when things are spaced out. I also discovered my Health Insurance premiums are going up by around 10% a month in 2019. Can’t live without medical insurance as you know. So I’ll be looking at minimizing any personal spending for the next 2 months. This too shall pass….I just home it passed quickly so I can concentrate on the upcoming Holiday.

  2. Hey CMO,

    Sounds like you’re still doing really well. Even accounting for the haircut you forgot about. At the end of the day, I think a lot of what we do with personal finance is about staying as true as possible in aggregate to your ideals rather than signing a contract in blood and swearing against making any mistakes.
    Keep to your path over the long term and you’ll keep winning along the way.

    Take care,

  3. Brad’s deals brought notice of fantastic sales on all manner of things. I ordered some winter boots – Women’s duck boots from Macy’s for only $25. Good luck finding some winter boots for your boys.

  4. Curious about comment that you would have move hair appointment of you had seen it at beginning of month. Was that just because of low/no spend month? If it is a regular expense that you feel is a valuable use of your money why should it matter that it fall this month?
    I think sometimes we get too caught up in challenges etc that we forget that spending on expenses of value is part of why we are frugal. I know I often feel guilty for my medical expenses even though expected cost are budgeted and hsa money is available for it. I value my health and feel blessed that things are mostly stable with treatment but still hate the cost. I need to stop viewing it as a fail and see it as a win to better quality of life.

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