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Sarah Morey Baker and her family; she will visit Vinton for a book-signing tonight.

What would happen if you and your family decided to not spend any money at all (other than paying your bills) for a whole month?

That question – and the answer – is found in the book “Spending Strike” by 1996 WHS graduate Sarah Morey Baker.

Sarah returns to Vinton for book signing at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the library.

“This is Money Smart Week” says Sarah, who along with book signings does presentations on money management, offering practical money- saving tips.

“I talk about my family’s experience with the spending strike and how it changed way we view our financial situation,” she said.

Sarah is now a teacher at Kirkwood. She worked in weekly newspapers for several years before earning her Master’s in Communications from UNI.

“Spending Strike” is her first book. In it she described how her family went a whole month without buying anything, including groceries. In place of buying something each member of the family documented what he or she would have purchased. At the end of the month, the family tallied the total and re-evaluated their spending.

“The spending strike has really changed the way our whole family operates,” says Sarah “We learned how to say no to certain purchase to say ‘Yes’ to a better lifestyle. We learned to be happy with the money we already earned. We do have enough; we just need to spend our money a little more wisely.”

The family paid its bills that month, and continued its charitable donations. But they bought nothing else

“We lived off the food we had already purchased,” says Sarah. “We had extra in our pantry and freezer.”

It was a challenge, she says. It was also one of the best months for them all.

“It brought us closer together as a family,” she says.

The Milk question

The No. 1 question that readers ask Sarah is “What about milk?”

Sarah’s family uses soy milk, which has a shelf life of 6 weeks. One of her friends did the spending strike but bought a grocery store gift card which she used solely for milk during that month.

For Sarah, the big challenge was cappuccino.

“Buying a cappuccino every day was part of my routine. It was hard to get used to not doing that,” she said.

But eventually she figured out how to make her own cappuccino at home.

Sarah hopes to discuss milk and cappuccino and other issues with many visitors at the library tonight.

And she hopes to encourage others to try the experiment that helped her family.

“People say, ‘I can’t do this,’” says Sarah. “But the spending strike helped me personally and professionally, and it was one of the best months for our family.”

Sarah’s father was the pastor of the Presbyterian church in Vinton for 14 years. She went to college at the University of Dubuque before beginning her career as a journalist.

Next project

Sarah has made “Spending Strike” into both a book and work book. She plans a similar project this summer, but it will focus on a month without technology. After the family lives that experience, Sarah plans to write about it in her second book.

See Sarah's Facebook page HERE.

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