I first learned about the "No Spend Month" from a blog I follow, SmallNotebook, and it has completely challenged me to take this on and see what we can do! This family who does this once a year is a lot like us in the sense that they:
1.) Live in the DFW area
2.) Rent instead of Own, and
3.) Are a family of three!
The question at hand is..."Can our family of three spend less than $350 for 30 days? Can we be more mindful and disciplined about the money we spend?"
We will pretty much be following SmallNotebook's guidelines with only a few exceptions. One being, Aaron works 30 minutes (one way) away from our apartment, therefore our gas budget will be a little higher since we truly cannot change his commute. What we can change is how often I am using our minivan. This will be a true test to see how often I actually NEED to leave the house compared to how often I WANT to leave the house!
**I will take all of the "indoor activites for infants" ideas I can get here people!!**
Here is what the $350 Includes:
* Groceries & Dining Out
* Baby Food and Necessities
* Household/Personal Items
Here is what the $350 DOES NOT include:
* Rent, Insurance and Bills
* Health Expenses
* Work Expenses
* Savings & Investments
* Tithes & Gifts
Basically, everything that is a variable expense is included. Things that are not a necessity.
Here's what we're starting the month off with:
I have about 1/2 a tank of gas in the minivan. Since we are currently a "one-car" family (the Camry died last Monday, it was a very very sad day and probably need to do an entire separate post on that!), the only other expense would be gas for the van that Aaron's work has lent him until we find a replacement car, or decide to try the one-car family for a bit longer. We are also traveling to Houston for Thanksgiving and are not including the $80 round trip gas cost in our $350 becuase it's a travel expense and an unusual circumstance since we do not travel except for holidays.
Our pantry is full to the brim (thanks to The Grocery Game ways of shopping) and therefore I have almost everything I need to probably last most of the month. This has not recently happened, but has happened over about a three month period, so instead of going to the grocery store, all I need to do is open my fully stocked pantry! Please note that what I keep in stock are the main items I need for the 10-12 recipes I cook each month, plus snack items and cereal. I don't just go and buy anything and everything on sale, I'm a very intentional grocery shopper!
We've already got enough toilet paper, laundry detergent, shampoo and other basic necessities to last us through the month as well.
Taken directly from SmallNotebook's Website:
What's the Point?
What's the point of depriving ourselves? Shouldn't we be able to enjoy life?
Yes, and that's exactly why we do it. When we take a break from spending, we learn to appreciate what we have. The convenient restaurant dinners become a special treat, our favorite foods are savored , and everytime I put gas in the car I am thankfl to have the money to do so. We stop taking things for granted. And let's not forget all the money saved from not eating out or making impulse buys!)
Here's how we are going to get started:
1. We will continue on our "cash only" budget, except this time, instead of breaking out the cash into different categories, we're going to keep it all together. All $350 will be withdrawn at the same time.
2. Spend as little as possible during the first two weeks when we are motivated, that way we will have a little more to spend in the last two weeks if we want to.
3. We are not going to be eating out! This will take H U G E planning on my part, lots of menu planning, grocery shopping planning and T I M E M A N A G E M E N T (which most of you know I'm great at making lists, but not completely following through!)
This challenge will be difficult for us, especially since Caleb takes up at least $100 a month of our budget. That includes formula, fresh fruits and veggies (I make homemade baby food for him, compare $.75-$1.00 per serving of jarred storebought food to about $.05 per serving of homemade food), and also includes any clothing, wipes, over the counter meds or any new toys. This month all I will be purchasing is formula and if he needs any food. We also use cloth diapers and cloth wipes which definitely helps the budget!
We also tend to eat out a lot, especially if I've had a long day with Caleb and have not done my part in planning dinner. Ideally, I would use Caleb's 2nd nap to prep dinner, but obviously, that doesn't always happen! It's those days that I get caught off guard when we tend to get lazy and just order takeout...
So, the goal is to spend no more than $350, outside of monthly recurring bills, for the entire month of November! I will be doing a weekly blog post as we go throughout the month, in hopes to capture how we're doing, as well as have some accountability on our spending! Knowing that someone (hopefully!) will be following our blog during the month will help keep me motivated to not spend!!
Our Fully Stocked Pantry!
Our Fully Stocked Fridge!
Let the adventure begin!!