No Spend October

Have you all seen the No Spend Month that NWEdible is heading up for October?

The premise of the challenge is to set a budget for one month, not including your regular bills (mortgage/rent, utilities, etc.), that allows you to save a bundle of money by… not spending it.  The budget should include money for food, gas and whatever household expenses you normally have.  But this budget is radical. You are cutting your expenses way, way down.  Down to nil, or as close to it as you can manage.

Like, instead of spending $750 on food for the month, you are only going to spend $120.  Instead of racking up the miles in your SUV, you rack up the miles on your bike, because that gas costs money.  Instead of getting coffee at the drive through, you brew it at home.

Then, at the end of the month, you have a pile of money that you saved.  Maybe enough to jump-start that emergency fund or make an extra house payment, or pay off a credit card.

To join the challenge, you have to do three things: one, set the budget; two, track your expenses; and three, set a goal for what you save.  It’s been a while since I’ve joined in on a challenge.  This one seems a bit overdue for us.  Doing a no-spend month is a great way to hit the reset button on out of control spending.

I read about the challenge over the weekend and decided to go for it.  But I didn’t actually get off to a great start.

Yesterday morning, it started raining at 6:00 am and Rick wanted a ride to work instead of getting soaked on his bike.  So I took him.  The boys, used to going to the bakery on mornings we drive Rick, begged for pastries.  I, weak from lack of coffee, gave in and spent $10 on the way home for buttery, flaky goodness.  Later, as I was cleaning up the crumbs, I remembered it was October 1st!  ARGH!   It’s NO SPEND MONTH!  $10 in the hole already.

It’s ok.  The whole month isn’t shot because of one slip-up on the first day.  I know we can make the ten bucks up later.  We actually used to run a really tight ship around here.  But as we’ve paid off various debts (two credit cards, a car loan and a student loan done!  Woo!), we’ve gotten a lot more relaxed about our spending.

Our budget for October is $335.  We are a family of five, and to be honest, I think we could go lower.  However, we have a few commitments for the month already involving friends and family from out-of-town, that I just don’t feel good about backing out of.  Even so, this will allow us to save $1000 this month.

I plan to put that $1k in a separate savings account towards an emergency fund.

Because I’m always curious how others come up with their budget numbers, I’m going to share mine more specifically with you.

For food, I know we can mainly eat out of the pantry and freezer, except for dairy and flour.  So I budgeted $30 per week for food.  This actually allows for some wiggle room, but I figure that’s a good thing.  I’m hoping I can get some Halloween candy to give away out of this too.

For gas, I cut what we normally spend in half.  This pretty much has no wiggle room, and I think it will be the toughest category for us.  Especially if we get some bad weather.   $60 is about a tank and a half for the month, plus the 3/4 of a tank right the 4Runner is at right now.

Our dining out budget would have been a zero for the month, but since I already blew that yesterday, I accounted for the ten dollars already spent.  Otherwise, we’ll be cooking at home and Rick will brown bag it.

I budgeted $30 for Rick’s hair cut.  He’s been putting it off for a couple of months and is getting pretty shaggy.  When I proposed doing the No Spend month, his only request was an allowance for a hair cut.

E and H both just hit a growth spurt.  H needs new shoes.  I’m budgeting $20.

Now comes the previous commitment part.  We had already committed to a high school football game (cheap), a double date (yay – it’s been so long), and a pumpkin patch (it is October after all).   I figured $12 for the game if we fill the kids up before we go and bring snacks from home.  I’m budgeting $50 each for the date and the pumpkin patch.  That’s cutting it a bit close, but I really want to try to stick to it.

If you add all that up, it’s $362.  I also have $90 in swim-lessons coming up for the kids this month, which Erica says is exempt from the budget.  Together, that’s $973 less than our average monthly expenses.  I wanted to make it an even $1000 in savings, so I’m going to see if I can make up that $27 somewhere.

I plan to keep track of how we’re doing and report here on it once a week.

What about you?  Are you down with No Spend this month?

Please comment and tell me if you are going to join in on the challenge, what you are budgeting (you don’t have to get all specific if you don’t want), and what you want to do with your pile of saved dough.

Categories: Simple Living, Thrift | Tags: , , , , , , | 14 Comments

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14 thoughts on “No Spend October

  1. Yay! I’m so glad you are doing this too. There are a BUNCH of bloggers going for it and I really think we can help this community save some serious bucks and get a better grip on WHY we spend like we do. I’ll be talking TONS about financial basics, planning and savings and issuing twice weekly challenges that will help people really get a grip on their spending. Super excited about all this – it’s going to be really fun. Hard, maybe, but fun.

  2. I’m going for it! I budgeted $120 for the month for all my non-rent/utilities expenses. It’s just me, my cat, and my salamander, but I don’t live somewhere where I can safely bike to and from work and there is no public transportation, so driving is my way to and from the office during harvest season. Most of that money will go towards food as I have a few last rounds of canning (tomato sauce and green tomato chutney) that I need ingredients for and my winter CSA starts on Friday.

    I have a lot of food put up for the winter, so it’ll mostly be dairy and flour/granola ingredients that I buy at the store. No big purchases planned for the month prior to this except yarn for a special sweater for a friend’s son…the yarn may go into its own category because this has been planned for a while now, I was just waiting for the wool mill to spin and dye a particular color.

    As for what I’ll do with my saved money, I’m not sure. Either transfer it to my savings account to help save for a potential trip to Japan next spring or France next summer (still up in the air) or put it all towards a giant credit card payment. I think I could potentially save $100-200 this month by not buying superfluous groceries or going out to eat so often. I’m hoping to have my credit card paid off 100% by the middle/end of 2013, so I may need to continue this “no spend” month for several months to make that happen.

    • Yay! Good for you! I’m thinking, if we pull it off, of doing another No Spend Month in March.

  3. We used to do a no spend month in January every year, but one of my son’s birthdays is in January, and I always felt bad about either messing up my no spend month, or him missing out on a party. We’re going to do it in Feb. instead. Assuming that is, that we’re in our own house again- we’re living with my parents while we build and I can’t not buy food with my dad around. He requires good cheese and soda water. 🙂 Once we move I’ll be doing these things again.

    • Yeah, my husband’s birthday is in January, and our anniversary is in February. April we’ll be planting things, so I’m thinking March might work for us this year.

  4. We inadvertently did this in August so we could afford to pay my husband’s quarterly taxes. Now we are hoping to do it more often so we can boost our savings. It’s difficult, but totally doable.

  5. Thanks Anisa and Erica for being to proactive on helping folks consider ways to budget. Though I’m not immediately in the soup (now that the main wage earner has left the stage), I’m in training, as it were, for days of much, much stricter budgeting. Now, as an exercise, and soon enough for real, I have budgeted $37.50 per week for entertainment and misc. which is about the only place I can cut back for No-Spend. Like Magdalena, I have most of my food put up (I budget for seasonal food/garden spending as a line item on my monthly expenses ) so I can get by on $40 a week for raw milk and eggs and whatever other little thing I might need from the store. I guess that too can get a bit whittled down. I guess if I am very very good (and don’t go stir crazy in the process) I might be able to save $25 this month. Not all that much but what I do know is that a person can live pretty close to the bone and feel content. Of course I’ll be mooching off all my friends and begging for free cocktails at the bar but you didn’t say I couldn’t get other people to spend money on me 🙂

  6. Cynthia in Denver

    I was so not prepared for this challenge! We’ve pledged not to eat out except once a week with our previously planned social engagements.

  7. I have already been doing a form of this for about 2 months now (I started in August). I lost my full time job in February so I went on a no-spend month, LITERALLY. That sucked. Big time. No income for 6 weeks! However, it made me appreciate the money I do have now a lot more. I will say my new outlook also came with a flip side, the things I do buy I want them to be investments. I’ve been buying a few items of clothes each month with the idea that I am creating a wardrobe for myself that will last a good long (at least 5 years) time. Each item has a purpose & can be worn with different items I already have. No more buying a cute shirt only to go home & realize I have no matching pants or shoes. I actually figure out what I want before going out & buying clothes, shoes or accessories. Same with household stuff. I don’t go to Target & buy a few little thingys here & there only to go home & realize they are just creating clutter. I desperately need to redo my house & I really thought out what I want to go in each room, how I want it to look, function, etc. Now I have a budget & will splurge (for me splurge is new IKEA, still not bank busters) once I’ve saved up that much for each room. I’m currently working on the dining room so new dining room table!!! My new money outlook has solved a three-fold problem: one: obviously going over budget & running out of money, two: my house isn’t being overrun buy impulse purchases that are just making things worse & three: the things I am spending money on are creating the life I want to be living (having my house & yard look nice, looking nicer, enjoying better food, etc.) & not a stressful, broke, mishmash of mismatched clutter filled, overrun, depressing life. I am striving for simplicity & happiness. I am so excited I saw this post because you’ve made me want to go for a bigger month now. Ironically I just got done budgeting my October bills this morning so I already have an idea of how much I have leftover to save. Thanks!

  8. Pingback: No Spend October: Week One « The Lazy Homesteader

  9. Love this idea.

  10. Pingback: No Spend October: Week Two « The Lazy Homesteader

  11. Pingback: No Spend October: Wrap Up « The Lazy Homesteader

  12. Pingback: Financial Health « preppernextdoor

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