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.
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.