Spending Moratorium

This post is dedicated to Alicia Pappas.

The worst time to start a spending moratorium is when your cupboards are bare, specifically your personal care cupboard. We were out of soap, toothpaste and shampoo, just to name a few. So, I spent $171 at CVS.

My kindred spirit in cost cutting measures, Alicia, recently explained her methods for using CVS ExtraCare Bucks to get toilet paper for free. I am not an expert with Alicia’s system, but you can earn ExtraCare Bucks a variety of ways. There are quarterly returns based on the amount of money you spend. But the easiest way to earn ExtraCare Bucks is by purchasing items that are on promotion for ExtraCare bucks that week. You get about a month to use your bucks before they expire and only one “buck” coupon can be used per transaction.

All of this works only if you have an ExtraCare rewards card/account. To be honest, the families Mc/Johnson have not been big CVS shoppers in the past. Rite Aid was always the closer pharmacy in our neighborhood until a CVS opened right outside the Metro station. But my office is sandwiched between two CVS stores that my coworkers and I enjoy popping into for candy or a new nail polish. At home in Texas, the preferred store is Walgreens. I noticed myself spending more time inside a CVS shopping, especially when visitors were in town. Mum, Dad and I went to the CVS on Connecticut Avenue in Cleveland Park twice when they visited last spring.

I spent Monday, Presidents Day, looking for coupons and setting up a CVS account that uses the FloMo home phone number. Then I set out to shop.

CVS haul

If you click on the photo, I old school Flickr’d it. You can read notes about the items on Flickr.

Missing in that shot:
Josh’s shampoo & conditioner (2/$12; had to go to a second CVS to purchase that)
2 Neutrogena SPF 55 Sunscreens (Still on BOGO; buy one get one half off)
Revlon Highlighting palette in bronze (I’m almost out of my standard bronzer and doesn’t this Revlon look like a Bobbi Brown shimmer brick?)
Jug of CVS brand hand soap
Eucerin lip balm
Josh’s razor blades
Jillian’s disposable razors

Total of all that: $171.80

Number of CVS stores visited: 2

Number of ExtraCare bucks earned:
1 – $4
1 – $8
3 – $10

Number of ExtraCare bucks left to use by the end of March:
1 – $8
1 – $10

This is where I failed in the Alicia Pappas system: she would have used all the ExtraCare Bucks in one shopping trip by making multiple, strategic purchases. I know there are more items we need, like soap which is on sale this week and wasn’t last week. So I was ok with stretching my Bucks out.

It should be noted that everything above would have been purchased at Target previously. I felt like Target has the best prices on household items. I would just walk into Target and buy whatever was the best price on their shelves. But now, I’m avoiding Target. (Not necessarily boycotting, though with the recent security scandal, it would be understandable.) I never looked for coupons in the past, because I like throwing away money, apparently. I know I have thrown away CVS ExtraCare Bucks before. THAT IS LITERALLY THROWING AWAY MONEY!!!

Now, we should be good for the next few months. Except, I am all out of my hair care products that are NOT sold at CVS. BUT, I just found out that you can purchase DevaCurl at Nordstrom, and it’s gift with purchase time! Plus Ebates! Just like using ExtraCare Bucks!

$52.97 @ The Vitamin Shoppe
$10.24 @ Macy’s
$110 @ Josh’s Valentine gift
$125 @ my dentist
$200 @ District Court of Maryland
$31.97 @ Nine West
$156.51 @ Rizik’s
$9.60 @ Red Top Cab

I’m on a sort of health kick, in conjunction with my plan to not be a fatty in 2014. So I purchased 2 Dr. Oz recommendations for weight loss: Relora and tart cherry juice. I also threw in some cranberry pills for the lady bits, you know. The tart cherry juice can also be purchased at Harris Teeter, but I didn’t even finish one bottle of the concentrate before it expired. I am just not a juice fan. I am taking the pills with regularity. Plus one!

Also, the Vitamin Shoppe smells like poo.

We ended up doing a Secret Valentine at work, and my Valentine wanted Frango mints, sold exclusively at Macy’s. Thank goodness there was a Valentine promo. My true Valentine got two tickets to see Richard III at the Folger Theatre next month. Wonder who he was take as his plus one?

The dentist and District Court charges will be reimbursed by MetLife (let’s hope) and my work, respectively. Finally we have my formalwear charges for Josh’s black tie work event at the end of the month. I searched every store between Dallas and DC that sold long formal dresses. I ended up with a $60 dress from Nordstrom Rack, in blue. It fit like a glove, but just skewed matronly. I purchased it because one long dress was better than no long dress. But once I read the online reviews and saw that the number one admirer of this design was MOB/MOGs trying to look their best at their children’s weddings, I quickly began to hate the dress.

American clothing manufacturers, I am JUST 20 pounds overweight (down 8lbs since January 1). And you LITERALLY made me feel like I should be shopping at Georgia Tent and Awning. Eff oh.

I understand your plight, Suzanne. I UNDERSAND. We do share a name, after all.

By the grace of God, and Tiffany’s faith, I found something suitable at Rizik’s, a real old school ladies clothier downtown. It needs alterations, which cost me a cab ride to drop off at the tailor. The shoes I purchased are even further on sale now. I’m going to see if they do price adjustments.

Now would be the time to mention Josh was NOT a fan of those shoes and wanted me to just purchase these instead. Pretty sure thousands of women in America would want to slap me if they overheard our conversation in the Nordstrom make-up department last Saturday where I talked Josh out of the purchase.

I take my spending moratoriums seriously.

Do you guys remember when I did these challenges yearly? When I was trying to stay under the Discover Card Threshold?

Well, that was all before planning a wedding, cohabiting, surviving a Supreme Court clerkship and Josh’s Funemployment post-the Court. We are now being back to being a two income household . . . who is still paying their monthly bills out of their savings account.

Say what, karaoke?!

Josh only gets paid once a month, the last day of the month. Except for December, when checks are given out on the 15th of the month so everyone can buy Christmas gifts? I don’t know, I’m not an economist. So Josh has been at work since December 2 and has received one paycheck. One of my goals for 2014 was to save more money, because we would be a normal two income household again. Those plans have failed spectacularly since all the money I attempted to save had to jump out of the savings boat and onto the credit card payment cruise ship.

This is ridiculous, and I’ve had enough. It’s time to get back under the Threshold or attempt to establish a new realistic threshold.

From January 24, 2014 until February 28, 2014, I will curb the spending. Here are purchases outlined as being approved during the Spending Moratorium:

Groceries (duh)
Super Bowl 2014 White Elephant gifts for Josh & myself: $20 (total)
Josh’s Valentine’s Day gift: ~$50
My Junior League dues for 2014-2015 (payment deadline is March 1): $278
Mani/pedi at the end of February prior to our trip to Houston for Josh’s work event: ~$50
My personal trainer (who I write a check to, so technically not a credit card expense)
Therapy (paid for with my FSA, so again, not a technical expense)
Anything work related that will be DIRECTLY reimbursed (this is different than when I buy everyone at work food and cover part of the cost because I am an overly generous and nice person who spends like that baby throwing money out the window)

Sidenote: This might get dicey if/when they announce the lineup for Sweetlife 2014 and if tickets go on sale before February 28. Last year we went, and had a really good time in our VIP seats. Tickets went on sale February 25 last year, so let’s just hope the lineup includes O.A.R. or someone else I don’t love

That’s it. Shut the rest down. No trips to Target, no clothing, or home accessories. We have enough stuff. So much stuff that I bought a new bookcase to house some of that stuff. I’ll be pinning the “stuff” that I like over on Pinterest if you want to click over to my boards and see what I like but haven’t bought.

Related: I seem to be shopping like a grandma these days because I already have the following gifts for 2014 in my possession, along with accompanying greeting cards:

Valentines for the office/friends (some will need postage)
Valentine for Josh (the card, not the gift)
Bradley’s graduation gift
May wedding gift
My mother’s birthday gift


 photo ChildThrowingMoney_zps22a45c67.gif

Missed you, little guy

$3.40 @ Pret a Manger – half a sandwich
$10.40 @ Corner Bakery – lunch

Not included, paid out of Wedding Fund:
$??? – my wedding band (the ring the Fianc&eacute will give me at the altar)

Not included, part of a gift:
$9.54 @ Paper Source – envelopes

The package of envelopes I bought at Paper Source did not have a price sticker on them. I was shocked at the register to find out how much 10 button and string envelopes cost. The lady behind me in line agreed with my disgust at the price, but proceeded to say she was buying $16 card kits just to get the sticker she liked. That sticker was then going on her own handmade baby shower invitations. You see, the sticker was green and gold but the pre-package invitation was green and purple. Purple was not one of her colors.

She was totally suffering from the Party Pig Complex.

I was so distraught from that $10 Paper Source experience that I had to take a rest on one of the adorable Georgetown side streets. I think the Fiance&eacute even offered to buy me a cupcake.


Amazing, right? Since the Fianc&eacute moved here, I’ve been going to the grocery store with shocking regularity. Also, having him in town takes up my free time. Instead of wondering around a store after work, I come home and make dinner.

I’m sure a lot of this will change when the weather turns cooler, but right now I am loving my walk to the grocery store.

$16 @ Martha Stewart Weddings – one year subscription
$4.70 @ Cosi – mojito lemonade
$2.11 @ Staples – double sided tape
$6.69 @ Pret A Manger – half sandwich and lemonade

Not included, paid out of Wedding Fund:
$228 @ Zappos – ANOTHER pair of wedding shoes (that are already on their way back to be returned)

This also does not include the Fiancé’s birthday gift, a Baked & Wired carrot cake cupcake.

$20.90 @ Fiddleheads – conditioner
$3.99 @ Amazon.com – Arcade Fire’s new album
$16.30 @ Elephant and Castle – lunch*
$95.75 @ Sam’s Club – open house weekend haul**

Not included, paid out of Wedding Fund:
$20 @ Arlington Flea Market – vintage handkerchieves for bridal party
$??? @ bridal store – WEDDING DRESS!!!
$XXX.XX @ Piperlime – 2 pairs of shoes for the wedding (one will be returned, this was for sizing)

* I was invited out by a co-worker who I never get to eat lunch with. Of course I was going! Then, I had to get the sweet potato fries. That’s how I had a $16 meal at lunch without getting a bevergae.

** We purchased paper towels and toliet paper to split for the year. The Fianc&eacute also picked up coffee and Diet Pepsi in bulk. He paid me in cash for his purchases.

$80 @ Fiddleheads- haircut
$90 @ Oyamel- dinner with the Edies
$4.24 @ Starbucks- water and tea
$6.89 @ Park Place- lunch
$4.34 @ neighborhood market- 2 lemonades

Total- $185.47

Not included: another meal with the Edies that Mum reimbursed me for with cash

The haircut was so I could look my best while trying on $3000 hunks of silk tafetta wedding gowns.

$4.18 @ Victoria Secret- 2 pairs of nude underwear, on super sale
$11 @ Washington Kastle’s game- margarita and fries
$31.03 @ Target- life supplies*
$8 @ Five Guys- a desperate lunch
$10 @ neighborhood threading station- eyebrows did

Total- $64.21

Not included, as previously outlined: amazing Melting Pot dinner and the Washington Kastles game ticket

Also not included, because purchased with a Nordstrom gift card: most expensive pair of underwear I’ve owned in my life that aren’t Spanx

I couldn’t wear my Old Navy Victoria’s Secret underwear while shopping for a bridal gown.

*tissues (Target brand)
salsa (Target brand)
Tide to Go pen
deodorant (bought with coupon)
Certain Dry
panty liners
Simply Lemonade Raspberry (single serving size)
tampons (on sale)

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