Around our house we are kicking off January as a no-spend month in order to kick-start our budget (first time getting one set and having Brad and I on the same page!), save some money, and to challenge our creativity for things like date night and projects around the house. In addition, I can spend my time focusing on organizing and wrapping up projects around the house! The idea is probably one I’ve seen around the web but for sure was brought to my attention as I read Living Well, Spending Less by Ruth Soukup. I really like her book and though I’m still working my way through the final chapters, can say that it has a lot of helpful advice for living the life you want, focusing on what’s really important, and getting a hold of your finances.
In addition to reading her book, I also recently bought her new planner which will allow me to have the budget, meal-planning and my calendar all in one place, and printed her guide for doing a no-spend month. On her blog she did a 31 day series called Living Well Spending Zero, which I planned to catch up on over this month but I just realized it’s no longer available by email but only paperback and Kindle form. Since I’m not spending money, I guess I’ll have to wait to read it for later, but you can find it on Amazon if you’re interested!
While she advises some prep before doing a no-spend month, you don’t want to stock-pile food or buy a bunch of stuff in anticipation of not being able to spend. The idea is to challenge yourself, be creative, and change habits. Unfortunately I failed to heed her advice and get printer ink because the holiday break kept me pretty busy, and currently I can’t print anything until I do that. I also had to get stamps because we ran out after sending Christmas cards, and my Pazzles software just needed updated. I would have waited on that but I have a wedding gift that’s already a month late TODAY (you know who you are ;)), and I needed my Pazzles to be operational to finish it. Pretty bummed about that being only a week in, but I’m avoiding buying coffee, won’t make any shopping trips where I’m tempted to eat out, and Brad and I will be coming up with creative date nights at home as well.
So what does a no-spend month look like? Here’s the plan:
- Only spending money to pay bills and necessities. No extra spending.
- Limited grocery budget. Ruth really pared down here and got crazy-creative, but between daycare food requirements and my own desire to eat healthy, I won’t be doing this at the expense of veggies and fruits, and I’ll still try to get organic where I can. I am trying to shave the grocery spending way back and am doing better at weekly meal planning and shopping sales.
- Attempt to save $1000 in one month.
- No eating out, no coffee that isn’t made at home, free entertainment. (I will still be spending my $10/month for Coffee & Crop because a) I coordinate the group and b) I plan to make birthday/anniversary cards for the year as an attempt to save money there.)
- Challenging ourselves to be creative where we otherwise may have just bought something.
- Cleaning & organizing around the house, because not only will it keep us busy for free, but we’ll more likely to want to stay home if the house is nice. I also know that when there are a lot of other distractions, things get lost in the shuffle, so by having a tidy home, I can focus on keeping up with grocery planning and the budget and other things that will keep us on track.