January is No Spend Month at our house this year. We are doing it to bring our current spending more in line with our new one-income status and as a detox after the consumer-centric holiday season. Of course, buying less stuff will help us be more green and more resourceful as well. We usually spend about $500 on groceries each month. Instead, this month we will be budgeting to spend only $500 on all non-bill expenses including groceries, gas, household items, dining, entertainment, and yes coffee!
What We Spent
We just wrapped up week one. All together we spent $165 this week. That was $43 for our box of organic produce from the CSA, $35 at Whole Foods, and $87 at Costco for bulk staples.
It almost goes without saying that there is no room for dining or coffee out this month. Instead, we are making sure to pack lunches using dinner left overs, and make coffee at home. DH is using Starbucks VIA packs for real “caffeine emergencies” because they’re cheaper than going to a cafe especially if you buy in bulk.
We have tried to make the most out of everything we buy at the grocery store. At the beginning of the week, I roasted a whole chicken and potatoes. After we were done, I made chicken stock with chicken carcass. I used the stock in a double batch of chili later in the week. Soups and chili are a great way to make less meat go further. The next night, I made Thai peanut chicken with left over chicken. When trying to eat on a tight budget while still buying organic, it often means leaving out meat. This week I tried making my own veggie burgers for the first time. They came out pretty well. I think I’ll do it again soon with just a couple of tweaks, and then freeze them for a quick meal when we don’t have time to cook. Way cheaper than the store bought version! We’ve also been baking our own bread and granola at home for a while now for even more savings.
What We Learned
We initially thought that a $500 budget sounded pretty generous. It has taken a surprising amount of thought in order to keep us within our budget. This being only the first week, I’m still not entirely sure if we’re going to make it. If everything comes together, and nothing unexpected comes up, I think we’re on track to meet our goal. Maybe.
Are you doing No Spend Month? What motivated you to try it?
shannon Clark, Financial Coach
As a financial coach, I provide you with the guidance and support you need to manage your finances with confidence—so you can stop stressing about money. Since 2014, I've helped over 5,000 women and couples pay off debt and save for the future. Will you be next?