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No-Spend Month: Over

Today is October 30th. I do not care. No-Spend Month, I am so done with you. Am I glad I did it? Sure. Did I save a bunch of money? Damn straight. Am I ready for some Thai Food and Ice Cream? Why, yes I am.

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I prepared a post last week, which I then failed to publish, detailing the $88 spent on groceries. $88 still within budget. With $134 remaining for grocery spending, I was feeling pretty smug about my no spend success. But, this is about more than groceries. It wasn’t until this week, when I closed out the entire budget, that I realized how good and bad we did.

I didn’t approach No-Spend Month in exactly the same way as everybody else. My comrades in anti-consumerism gave themselves a flat amount for everything: Gas, Groceries, Miscellaneous. They probably would have thrown pets in there too, were that a monster huge category for them. I left my separate categories intact, setting hard limits for each. Right or wrong, its my version of No-Spend. Those limits weren’t arbitrary. They were based on historical spending, taken down a notch. Or so I thought. Because their varying degrees of success did turn out to be completely arbitrary.

Groceries: limit $400. Spent $396. Status: WIN! I would have been farther from the limit were it not for a hurried, last minute, very hungry breakfast item purchase netting me an assortment of entirely too expensive baked goods. Luckily, my prior success accommodated the indiscretion. Long time readers will know, I’ve never come anywhere close to such an abbreviated grocery budget. Holding the line was a huge deal for us. I’m deigning to think we might actually be able to do better on a regular basis.

Gas: limit $350. Spent $441. Status: Abject failure. I’m putting this $91 oversight out there for a couple of reasons. First, completely unavoidable. At least in my mind. The bulk of this, as in $350+ of it is The Husband’s cost of commuting to work. Through shit-tastic traffic. In his gas-guzzling SUV. Hauling heavy tools and equipment. To ever changing job site locations. Occasionally, we luck out and he works close to home, or scores a nearby car pool buddy. This month, we did not. Second, it gets my mind a-whirl on the how-to of possibly mitigating this expense. Once and for all. Trading in the gas guzzler? Quitting jobs? What are our options and how do I go about pursuing them?

Dogs: limit $1000. Spent $1006. Status: Success. A slight update to my long-ago Dog Spending post, and as Tracy astutely pointed out back in Week 2, more is spent on dog food than people food this month. However, this budget also includes vet care and medications, making up a healthy chunk (more than 1/2) of the monthly total. The upward update over previous spending can be directly attributed to the increased vet needs of our 3 oldest glas. Not likely to change anytime soon. There was serious hustling involved in keeping spending within range; free bags of food were redeemed, raw food deliveries were skipped, new toys and sweaters were not on the agenda. I knew spending was up, but thought our average was right around the same. It’s not. Eyes open.

Savings: Arbitrary goal $1500. Achieved slightly over that. Status: Boo-Ya! The goal was over and above a normal month’s money savings efforts, or about $1200-$1400. In total, a good solid $3000 went to savings. The bulk into our Emergency Fund round robin, with some directed toward targeted efforts, eventual car procurement, potential vet emergencies. Even with our overages, this was accomplished. This time of year, with Holidays looming, at the tail end of summertime spend-a-polooza, lining my coffers for the month was mighty satisfying.

Results Vary. My No-Spend is different than your No-Spend, is different than my own might be at a later date. Make sense? Overages happened. It wasn’t picture perfect, but it accomplished what I wanted it to. Money saved. Spending faucet temporarily turned off. It gave me a month to question, plot, and plan, all the while mooning over take out. I feel a heck of a lot better about the squish room that clearly exists in my spending. Identifying that squish empowers me on the fake budgets front. Now there’s a topic worth re-visiting…

Thanks for following along at home. No-Spend is also generally No-Fun. Creative? To a certain degree. But, mostly it involves sitting around deep in thought, waiting for life to resume. There’s something to be said for that. Now and again. Perhaps, I’ll meditate about it while I eat my spicy noodles.

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Comments

Tracy Warren
Reply

Congrats – that is a nice chunk of changes for your savings. I seem to be on an overspend Season. We made a big cut by buying 1/2 side of beef and they wound never healed. We are still bleeding :)
We have the big yearly vet visit on Friday. Told my husband to just walk away when I pay the bill. Eeek. Makes me feel somewhat better seeing what you have to spend on pets. Next year I will divide whatever we spend on Friday by 12 and will have saved for that expense. I just keep getting better at this.

dogsordollars
Reply

Thats a great idea! Sort of your own monthly maintenance plan! I hear you on the 1/2 beef. This month was really helpful on stopping the bleeding from such purchases for us. The bulk food gets ya!

Jenny
Reply

You did an excellent job… I keep thinking we should do a no-spend month after the Holidays, but I’m not sure my husband and I really have the willpower to do it for a whole month. What’s the harm in trying, though, right? I’m most astounded by your grocery budget – you did it and you didn’t starve! $400 is what I aim for with my family of 3… although if you add eating-out expenses, I know we spend a lot more than that on food.

Regarding the gas guzzler… it seems like your husband probably needs a larger vehicle for his work (although I did once have an HVAC guy show up to my house in a Prius). Perhaps you could look into a hybrid SUVs? They’re a bit more expensive, but gas usage is more like a traditional sedan according to EPA estimates, so you’d probably do better in the end.

dogsordollars
Reply

Hybrid SUV’s are an option we’ve looked at. But they are pricey and we aren’t interested in another car payment right now. Just about the time we decide to make a change, his driving situation will change up entirely and it won’t be so bad! Bah! We’ll figure it out someday!

Laura
Reply

You did great, but I need some clarification. Regarding groceries, you spent $396 for two people for a month, right? Was this only food or did it include toiletries? I’m trying to see where my budget for groceries falls in comparison to yours. Congratulations!

dogsordollars
Reply

Oh, I’m sure you can do better than me! But, yes $396 – 2 people – 1 month. Which for us is a $250-$350, depending on the month, reduction.

Jessie
Reply

Your readers miss you! I am sure I am not the only one.

Cassi
Reply

That is exciting! I might do a no-spend month soon to start saving for college. Thankfully, at the moment the only time I spend money is when I am out with friends so I will just have to only do free stuff with them! Congrats on your success!

Laura
Reply

Just to let you know: You are missed.

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