In the past I have called the No Spend Month Challenge “an experiment in frugal living.” For the past two years we’ve asked the question, “Can we live on less?” It’s been sort of a game to see what it’s like to tighten the budget to the bare minimum and see just how much we can handle. But this year is different.
This will be our third annual No Spend Month, but I am more excited than I have ever been about the Challenge. SO EXCITED! “Why would you be excited to live on an even tighter budget?” you ask.
Well. This year is different. This is the first year that we are doing No Spend Month with a purpose. This is the first year that we are doing No Spend Month with a specific goal in mind. We aren’t just saving money for the sake of a challenge or having a few more dollars in the bank. But more on that in a minute…
No Spend Month “Rules”
In the past we have taken our usual gas and grocery budget and used that number to cover all of our flexible and discretionary expenses from groceries and dining out, to clothing, household and baby supplies, chicken feed, gas, and more. This year that number will be $609. That will leave us about $38 per week for groceries. (That may seem like a lot or a little to you. I share the specific number so you can see in later posts exactly where our money went. You can help keep me accountable, and I can feed my data addiction.)
Fixed monthly bills like rent aren’t included because it isn’t very practical or possible to cut them out for just one month. Although we don’t go to the doctor often, costs for health care are also not included in the basic budget. I’m obviously not going to risk my children’s health for the sake of the Challenge. Charity and gifts are also not included because of course we wouldn’t want our budgeting to negatively impact others.
Others who took the challenge with me in past years have decided to define their No Spend Month “rules” in a different way. One of my favorites was so simple and didn’t include any number crunching at all. They simply asked, “Is this a want or a need?” Needs were met, but wants were postponed for after the challenge. What an awesome way to become aware of our spending habits!
Why Take the No Spend Month Challenge?
There are many reasons you might choose to take the No Spend Month Challenge. Perhaps you need to finally start that emergency fund. No Spend Month would give you a great jump start. Maybe you’re planning a fun family vacation. It would be so much less stress if you didn’t go into debt to pay for it. Or maybe you’re just not sure where all your money is going, and you want to create a budget and learn to stick to it.
For our No Spend Month this year, and all of 2014, we’ve defined the specific goals of going debt free in 2014 (down with student loans!) and increasing our giving to charity.
I’ll be sharing much more about how we plan to meet these goals soon along with practical tips on how you can reduce the stress in your relationship with money. Sign up to get all the No Spend Month posts delivered straight to your inbox. (It’s free, of course!)