this idea came from another blog and i wish i could find it to give the author their due credit. here is an example of one family's journey through no spend month. if you google "no spend month" TONS of blogs, articles and website come up. imagine that.
now, don't get all excited thinking "how can you go a month without paying your bills?!" i wish. do you know how much money we'd really save up!?!? we'll still pay our bills. you know, so we can keep our roof over our head.
here's how our no spend month works:
it consists of $250 cash for the essentials. for the month. that's it. simple rules. our essentials? food and gas. if we can't buy it within our budget, it will have to wait until next month. or walk to work.
we did make an error at the beginning of the month by failing to make sure both cars had full tanks of gas. so we were out $35 by day 3. ugh. not a good start. so tip #1, fill up your gas tank(s) before your no spend month starts.
initially we had a hard time figuring out the food piece of it. a typical week costs consists of $23 towards papa spuds and then $40-60 in other groceries. That amount would be far too high to be successful at no spend month. so this month we are not doing papa spuds. that eliminates $92 right there! also, we are new members of BJs wholesale club. we thought we could get a month's worth of groceries from BJ's all under $100. That would leave us some extra money for things we forgot or might want throughout the month and for gas. Well, in order to stockpile groceries, we had to plan out our meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. what a task! however, now that it's done...it's done! FOR A WHOLE MONTH. plus, i only spent $91 at BJ's today. it felt so good to spend only $91 and come home with SO MUCH STUFF.
the most beneficial part of my trip was that i had a list. i always do, but it was specific to our needs for the month. i couldn't deviate from it due to the budget. having a set budget was another great thing about my trip. i actually calculated my costs before i went to check out. by doing that i realized i was going to be over budget so i had to rethink buying some items. i had to be strategic in what i bought. i didn't just throw things in the cart because "it looked yummy" or because "i wanted it". everything i bought serves a purpose.
we have had 2 doctor visits this week totaling $65, including prescriptions. do we include this as part of our no spend month budget? in my opinion, no. our no spend month budget is for only food and gas, our essentials. however, each family can designate their budget to be larger or smaller and to include whatever they'd like. for example, we could have made our budget $400 and that would have also included doctor bills and drugs and other miscellaneous expenses. however, with our no spend month plan we simplified our costs and put them into three categories: food, gas, and bills. basically all of our fixed costs (meds, rent, utilities, etc) we considered a bill. a doctor visit and prescribed medication, whereas variable, does not fit really into the food or gas category. it most closely lines up with the bill category, sorta. for our purposes that is where it will go. for your no spend month you can designate your cost however it fits your budget best.
as we left the doctor's office today, we were hungry. we knew it would be easiest to stop and pick up something to eat. especially the deliciously smelling chic-fil-a that is located right next door to our doctor's office. and of course, we have the option to do that, we just have to deduct that cost from our remaining budget. after all, a fast food lunch definitely falls into the food category. however, we weren't willing to lose $12 of our budget to just one meal. so, as yummy as chic-fil-a sounded and smelled, we passed on by.
even though we are only 5 days into january, i will say we are off to a good start. we are really excited about it. also, having cash makes you very aware of how much you have to spend. when it's gone, it's gone. no spend month has also made us very aware of our spending choices. we can't just by things "willy-nilly". we actually think about what we are buying and why we are buying it. does it have a purpose? do we need it? can it wait? will i starve without it?
i think our next challenge for the month will be: being social without spending money. suggestions? friends and family, what would you like to do this month?!?!