"Essentials Only" Month - let's see how this goes!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I was recently inspired by a pin I saw on Pinterest that mentioned a "No Spend Month." The pin linked to this blog, Small Notebook (that I have been loving ever since discovering a few weeks ago! So many useful tips on simplifying life). When I read about No Spend Month, I was intrigued - and a little scared. But I wanted to challenge myself...and my husband. :)

The premise of a No Spend Month is this: designate a month that you want to get back to basics and cut out extra spending. Take a set amount of money - in cash! - out at the beginning of the month. That cash is to be used for all groceries, gas, dining out, entertainment, clothing, and random purchases (hello, Target) that you would normally spend money on in a month. Not included in that cash is the stuff you have to pay monthly (mortgage/rent, car payment, utilities, etc), healthcare bills/prescriptions, gifts for others, and the like. The idea is that you will resist the temptation to whip out your debit or credit card, stick to your cash allotment, and therefore cut out the non-essentials while cleaning out your (no-doubt full) freezer and pantry and eating stuff that is already in your house.

When I mentioned this to Alex a few weeks ago, he was hesitant. "NO spending??" he said. Well, okay, I guess that's a slight misnomer - you do have to spend money to survive, that's just life. So I renamed it "Essentials Only Month" for our household. It gets the point across.

For us, starting this the first of July wasn't ideal, since we'd had our beach vacation planned for over the Fourth, and I really didn't want to eat Ramen for our romantic first anniversary dinner. So we decided it would be a 30-day period, going from July 10 - August 9. And hey, what better way to kick off Year 2 of Marriage? Yeah-yuh, get excited!! Ha. But really, it is a good exercise for us to engage in together as a couple, although Alex still thinks he is going to starve or worse, run out of peanut butter.

The allotment we are going with is $200 for the 30 days. Again, this is for gas, groceries, eating out, entertainment, toiletries, etc. Let's hope the dogs don't run out of food this month, or they are going to be mighty hungry...kidding!

You think I'm crazy, right?

I know it's going to be a challenge. We are already pretty good about our grocery spending: I use coupons for some items we purchase normally, like peanut butter (cough cough, Alex), coffee creamer, bread, frozen veggies, yogurt, and cereal. And I usually fill my car up twice in a month, so there goes $100 right there (Alex's gas is a business expense, so it's kept separate). Where we struggle is going out to expensive dinners with friends and mindless spending, like at Target or TJ Maxx, where I may not spend much at each time, but it adds up.

In addition to the $200, we started the 30 days with my car full of gas, a reasonable amount of fresh groceries, and a deep freeze full of random frozen foods and about half a deer (no joke).

My hope is that at the end of Essentials Only Month, we will have saved the money that we would have normally spent eating out, or on a round of drinks, or on a dress from the clearance rack and be able to put that toward something more important, like tithing or in savings. Plus, my pantry will be rid of all about-to-expire misc. foods that I bought for one reason or another and our freezer will be deer-less.

I'm actually pretty pumped about this. No doubt it will be hard, but it will feel so good to have a little extra at the end of the month that we can put toward something that matters.

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