Photo taken from www.smallnotebook.org

A whole month without buying stuff? Say whaaaat? Yeah, I know right. I found this on one of my friend's Pinterest and I decided to check it out. Technically you're not going 31 days without buying anything. You're just putting yourself on a tight budget and sticking with it. I couldn't think of a better time than now, as I am currently in the beginning stages of starting a new business, for me to learn how to be financially responsible and overall more disciplined. Plus Christmas is right around the corner, so...



To read the author, Rachel Meeks', post for "No Spend Month", click this >>LINK<<



Rachel Meeks, the blogger who I got the idea from, is a wife, a mother of two, and the author of the blog  www.smallnotebook.org. For the last 4 out of 5 years, every July, her family has done a "No Spend Month", where they give themselves an allowance of $400 to spend for that month.


Week 1: $60 (15% of the total budget)
Week 2: $80 (20% of the total budget)
Week 3: $160 (40% of the total budget)
Week 4: $80 (20% of the total budget)
Last 3 days: $20 (5% of the total budget)





image via www.punchdebtintheface.com



What is included in this budget? Basically all the extracurriculars for the month. Clothes (self explanatory), household items (window cleaner, paper towels, pillows, etc), fun (movies, sporting events, arts and crafts, etc.), food (eating out, ordering in, grocery shopping, etc), gas. (At first I didn't really see how they included gas into the "No Spend" budget. I see it as more of a necessity as opposed to something extra. I think they did because it would limit the amount of "random" car trips made on a day to day basis. Which makes sense). 




What is excluded? Your regularly scheduled bills (rent/mortgage, car note, insurance, etc). Also, this family included gifts for others here. Personally, I would throw this in the budget but I guess no one wants to really budget gifts for others. Y'all know I'll hit up this one QUICK. But wait, there's some good stuff there. Maaaaaaaan, y'all don't know. Whatev's.





So. What does this mean for me? Well, if a family of 4 can get by on this budget of $400 a month, technically, I should be able to get by on $100. Since I know I spend that much on gas a month just getting to and from work (3-5 days a week) and to and from church (2 days a week), that isn't really an option for me. So I'm thinking maybe $225 for the month. Now. Another amendment to this little plan. Instead of going 4 weeks, I'm only going to do 2 weeks ($112.50) starting this Friday, November 9th since it's payday. Why only 2 weeks? To quote my Pastor, "I'm so glad you asked." Well, this family has done this 4 out of the last 5 years. At the same time each year. They already know what to expect. They already know the sacrifices they'll have to make. They already know where they will have to cut back and they already have a plan. It's not a surprise to them. It's not anything new. Me? I just saw it last week and decided it looked like a pretty good idea. I haven't had a chance to come up with a solid game plan yet. And everyone knows that when you set unattainable goals for yourself, you're more likely to give up, usually out of frustration, and fall short of completing the challenge. On the contrary, if you set more attainable goals for yourself, goals you can actually accomplish with a little self control and determination, you're less likely to give up and possible attain the goal. Then from that point, after that victory, use that momentum to push yourself even further. I mean, seriously, no one completes a marathon without first completing a mile. 



If I go by the same breakdown as listed above, using the $225 per month, my budget would go as follows:

Week 1: $33.75
Week 2: $45
Week 3: $90
Week 4: $45
Last 3 days: $11.25


But remember, I'm only doing two weeks. I decided that if I was able to do the first two weeks successfully, I would consider extending it another two weeks to finish out the month. I plan to post on my progress on here as I go along. And since I upped the total amount from $100 to $250, the budget above includes gas as well. Rachel and her family fill up before the challenge starts. Guess I should go ahead and get that done within the next couple of days.



How can you successfully complete a "No Spend Month" challenge? Well, here are some tips listed on the author's blog:

  1. Instead of eating out with friends, invite them over for dinner. I don't particularly see where this would save me money so I'm going to nix that one. Last time I had friends over, I ended up spending thirty bucks on pizza. That's the whole 1st week's budget. Save $3.75 for gas.
  2. Complete unfinished or "never even started" projects. Now this one will DEFINITELY help me. Remember those awesome fabrics I bought in >>this post<<? They still look exactly the same. Haven't done a thing with them. Instead of browsing the internets (plural. Ha!) for new ideas and buying new materials, just take out the things you already have and begin them. This alone, could easily take up my full two weeks. I also have photography work I really need to catch up on.
  3. Don't skimp on food. This may sound a little oxymoronic at first, but the author made a good point. If you're already having to cut back on pleasantries (no pedicures, no trips to the hair salon, no spa trips), at least you can come home to a good meal. There is comfort and solace in food. Sure you may need to have omelets and turkey sandwiches for a big portion of the month, but treat yourself to a favorite meal or snack or drink every now and then. It'll at least, for a little while, get your mind off of that $15 MAC lipstick you wanted so bad. But couldn't get.
  4. Review insurance policies. I don't really think this would work much for me either. I already have the basic necessities on my insurance plans.
  5. Reduce random trips. This is a biggie for me. It's not unusual for me to drive 6 miles into town and 6 miles back home to the 24 hour McDonald's for a $1 sweet tea or a $4 (caramel or vanilla) latte to satisfy a late night craving. 
  6. Avoid buying things that won't be missed. Sooo guilty of doing this. Although I am the ultimate bargain shopper when it comes to clothes, and I'll snatch up a pair of flip flops on sale in the winter with the quickness, this is something that could definitely be cut out. Scented candles, which I LOOOOOVE, packs of pens, lip balm, nail polish- these are all things I can definitely stand to go two weeks without buying.
  7. Add more meals with beans and eggs. Two of the cheapest items you can find at the grocery store that could also be meals, themselves. Here, I would also add rice.
  8. Use cash and keep a list of every expense. I thought about using cash, but since I've had a number of occasions where I've lost dollar bills or forgot them in my jeans pocket (I mean, that totally defeats the purpose, right), I figure it'd be best that I stick with my debit card. To monitor myself and keep me honest, I will keep a written account of everything I spend.

And to end this post, I'll leave you with this, taken directly from Rachel's blog post:

"Since it’s more fun to do it as a group, I’ll be blogging about our No Spend Month, and you’re welcome to follow along and even join in. You’ll save money on what you might normally spend on dining out and impulse buys, but what you’ll really gain is a renewed perspective on how much you have and what you can do with it. You’ll get to be resourceful and creative when you can’t run out to the store to buy something.
There will be awkward times when we notice how much of our thoughts are consumed by stuff. This is not going to be easy, but it will be worth doing."


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