Sunday, September 8, 2013
No Spend Month: The Challenge
As I write this, my family is preparing to start our very first no spend month. For one entire month we will not purchase any extras whatsoever. That means we will spend money only on bills, gas, and groceries. In addition to cutting back to only those things, we are also going to do our best to cut down on the gas and groceries. Time to send that poor piggy bank to the doctor!
The bills are obviously the bills. We have tried over the last several months to streamline those as much as possible, but for the most part those will be the same as they are every month. They are excluded from the budget that I am setting up for no spend month.
We live fairly far from civilization, so a large portion of the gas we burn is completely necessary. Our plan to cut down on that is to carpool, combine trips, and not go on unnecessary trips. We are both starting the month with full tanks as well.
Groceries are going to take the largest hit. We are going to see just how little we can get by with. Starting this adventure the week after a birthday party was a good idea since we will have party leftovers for at least the first two days of this challenge. My plan is to use items already in our pantry and freezer as much as possible, plan and prepare meals that are inexpensive, and to really find and cut back on grocery items that are wants more than needs. I can tell already that this is going to greatly effect my coffee habit. Coffee will probably be my biggest sacrifice for the month.
Let's face it...you can't spend absolutely $0 for an entire month. The idea of no spend is to spend $0 on extras and to live on only the necessities.
I have seen other families out there who burn only $200 for their entire no spend month. Of course, those families are families of three. We are a family of five and this is our very first no spend month, so we are setting our budget a bit higher. Remember, this budget has to cover gas AND groceries for the ENTIRE month. I'm not joking when I say that there are times we spend that in a week. Our budget for our very first no spend month is......$350.
My plan to stick to it is to go plastic free. We will pull out cash to dole out as the month goes along, but the debit cards are getting locked away for the month. Why? I feel like using a debit card gives a false sense of security. If you walk into a store with a debit card and go over budget, no problem. If you walk into a store with cash and go over budget, you have to put something back. My mother in law uses this genius envelope system that I may eventually have to try out.
I plan to post weekly updates as the month goes along to let you know how we are doing. Deep breath...here we go!
Who's with us?!?!