Zero Dollar Days

A Way to Get Out of the Vicious Cycle of Unnecessary Spending

Cindy Shapiro
5 min readSep 11


Photo by Emilio Takas on Unsplash

I want to get out of this endless cycle of spending. But everywhere I go, it seems as though there are temptations to open my wallet and buy something I don’t really need.

So today, I celebrated a zero-dollars day. That doesn’t mean I did nothing — quite to the contrary. But it does mean that I did not open my wallet — not once — to pay for a single thing.

My day started with coffee. No, not at Starbucks or another coffee shop. I was at home, brewing my drip, and I delighted in the aroma wafting out of my favorite mug as I sat on the couch with my dogs.

Next up, my house was a mess. I decided to pay myself; I have friends who hire someone to clean their home. More power to them, but I’d rather not . It feels bougie to me if I’m perfectly capable of doing it myself — and in doing so, I earn the satisfaction of having cleaned my spaces myself.

I cleaned the bathrooms, started up the laundry, and washed dishes from the night before. It was satisfying work. When it was done, I stepped back and took it all in — my space was clean and I had myself to thank for it.

Around mid-morning, I hopped in the car to go to yoga. I have a membership to ClassPass, a low-cost way to attend exercise classes at different gyms and studios around town. I had booked it a few days ago, and the class was included in my membership. I brought water from home, plus my own mat and towel, and I spent the hour remembering to breathe while holding poses and lifting weights. I invested that time in myself.

After yoga, I called my aunt. She lives in another state, and I try to keep up with her regularly. She lives alone, and we enjoy catching up on the event of each others’ weeks. We talked for about an hour, as I drove home and then watered plants around the house. It only cost me some time — well-spent.

In the afternoon, I spent some time making sandwiches for my kids and we sat down to lunch together at the kitchen table. While I find it maddening that neither one will touch lettuce, at least they ate their apple slices.

And this evening, after the dogs were walked and the front steps were swept, I found myself thinking…



Cindy Shapiro

Cindy Shapiro is long-time teacher living in Colorado. As a writer, she aims to elevate teachers’ voices and provide insight on issues in education.