The No Spend Month: Preparation
After an incredible August and a ridiculous September, I am officially done. Over it. I’m spent. Figuratively. Literally. I demand a break. Better yet, I’m engineering a break. About a week ago, the idea of spending basically no money in October hit me. And sounded really, really awesome. I’ve done a No Spend Week once before. Once. But, not for a while and not a month long version. The results of that week were solid. They took some creativity and some preparation. That’s what I’m focusing on in the end of September. Getting ready for a cheap, simple October.
Step 1: Stockpile. It will help if your freezer looks like this.
If you’ve recently got a hell of a deal of a 1/2 cow, and less of a good deal on a 1/2 pig. If your cupboards are full to the brim with canned goods of every possible variety. If you’ve got a flock of pullets supplying you an average of four eggs a day. If you’ve spent the last several months stockpiling, building infrastructure, and spending a heck of a lot of money, this makes for the opportune time to seriously slash your spending.
Notice I said slash, not eliminate. That’s Step 2: Draw up a budget.
Spending zero money for a month, not actually possible in my world. Bills must be paid. Dogs must be fed. Gas must be guzzled. We can reduce. We can prioritize. We can’t quite become The Man Who Quit Money, as much as that occasionally sounds appealing.
The budget for October gets divided into categories: Those line items which can be eliminated altogether, and those which can only be seriously reduced. For instance, our grocery budget for October will be $400. Once again, October Grocery Budget. $400. That is a full $200-$250 better than my previous best efforts. $300-$350 lower than our peak spending. $400 is still a heck of a lot for most people. For us, it is un-freaking heard of. I’m only attempting it because of above pictured freezer, laying Ladies, an Ugly Garden full of greens, potatoes, pumpkins, and assorted produce, and all those canning efforts. With that under my belt, it makes me just nervous. In a perfect world, this is what I would like our regular grocery budget to be. I’m considering this an excellent opportunity to see what that would be like.
Groceries are our big hurdle. Other categories NOT being eliminated, but capped:
Pet Food: Dogs gotta eat. I’ve totaled their regular food expenses for raw and added just a bit for what we spend on veggies, bones, and supplements. There will be no canine consumerism.
Vet: Due to on-going health concerns, a month without a trip to our regular or holistic vet isn’t an option. I wish my dogs were healthier, that this wasn’t a required expense. We will spend October knocking on wood for no new emergencies.
Personal Care: Our gym membership and one $11 haircut a month for The Husband.
Gas: Peoples gotta get to work. I carpool, take advantage of work from home opportunities, and have an incredibly fuel efficient vehicle, which we use for most of our regular getting around. Countered by The Husband currently driving too far to work, through crummy traffic, in a not-so-fuel-efficient SUV. This is unavoidable.
Entertainment: The base Netflix (and Hulu) expense. A whole $25. Nothing beyond that. No RedBox. No Movies (cheap or otherwise). We’ll look to the library for any supplementation.
That list makes this seems like a pretty wussy “No Spend” Month. Netflix AND Hulu? Cop out. Somehow, there are still a lot of $0′s on my budget spreadsheet. I swear! In my defense, here is what we are doing without:
Dining: Usually budgeted at $150 a month. Usually gone over. No meals out in October. At all.
Miscellaneous/Stupid/Crap: Yes, this is a category. One that swells with things I can’t quite label. From parking fees to Yetis. This will be a month without miscellany.
Cash: Walking around money. A no spend month isn’t quite right if you’ve got money burning a hole in your pocket.
Clothing: I don’t buy new clothes every month, and I certainly won’t in October.
Gifts: I think I am in the clear for this category in October. If not, I’ll have to get creative.
Garden: Sorry, Ugly Garden. Investment in you is suspended.
Car Expenses: Other than gas, they are getting nothing.
Household/House: No improvement. No supplies. We’ll get caught up on the free maintenance, gutter cleaning, window washing and other fall appropriate tasks.
Money Saving Monday is temporarily suspended. We’ll get back to regular old money saving in November. For October, this is going to take everything I’ve got. I’ll use this space to check in with progress, strategies, challenges, and my undeniable ultimate success. (False bravado can be helpful.) If all goes well, this should be a really helpful pre-Holiday Season (I know, too soon!) exercise.
Who’s with me? Anyone interested in a similar exercise? Have you done a No-Spend Month before? Was it worth the trouble?