Our no-spend month was hard. I failed over and over.
The rules seemed so simple: don’t buy anything that isn’t a necessity…
It is harder than you think to determine what fits the description of necessity. What about home projects (our back step needed to be fixed)? Hotel stays (we had a dance competition weekend and didn’t want to drive there both days)? Gifts? Something you have wanted that is finally on sale (for me- a purse)? (I know, not a necessity, but check out the great deal I got!)
We also had a hard time deciding what expenses we were just pushing off until August; school supplies, clothes, house paint (we needed to repaint the whole exterior), a new screen for my laptop.
We didn’t take a vacation this summer, so we wanted to do a couple of fun (but expensive) things with the kids, and July was the month they fit into our summer. This felt like a necessity, because we so badly wanted to do something with our summer. We went kayaking and spent a day with some friends at a lake in their boat.
Around July 15, I kind of gave up. I had probably spent less on things we didn’t really need than on other months. I started the month with a cash budget for food and gas but gave up on that after a trip to the store without enough cash in my purse. I started the month keeping track of my spending to the cent, but couldn’t account for Todd’s spending and it became very complicated. I don’t pay our bills, so I wasn’t sure if anything we pay for monthly was something we could eliminate.
I did learn a few things about myself and our budget to get through our next no-spend challenge.
- Don’t buy something just because it exists. Throw away catalogs, stay off Amazon, stay out of stores.
- Question every purchase. I haven’t always done that, I have just bought whatever we wanted or needed. But having to think about every expense in terms of necessity or not is a great way to watch your spending.
- Exercise self-control. I am obviously not great at this (purse?!).
- Find things to do in place of buying or spending. Family activities don’t have to be expensive, but you have to plan a little and be creative. Here are some tips I found on Pinterest: http://www.thepracticalsaver.com/no-spend-weekend-50-things-save-money/ http://centsiblyrich.com/35-things-to-do-no-spend-weekend/
- Get the family to buy in (pun intended) to the process. My kids kept me in check and Todd was very excited about less spending. They were not always excited about me not buying them things, however.
I am going to try again.
And maybe for a weekend, not a month.
Have you tried a no-spend month, week, or weekend? Was it a success?
Read about Allison’s no-spend challenge and learn how to budget!