SmallNotebook.org to do a "No Spend Month," which I dubbed "Essentials Only Month" for my purposes because it's basically impossible not to spend anything for an entire month. You can read about that adventure here.
Since I am challenging myself to something different every month this year, I knew Essentials Only Month would be making a comeback. Basically, what I did last year was to give our household a budget of $200 for an entire month. This included groceries, eating out, gas (that's a big one), toiletries, clothing, random shopping, and household items. It did not include medical or health-related expenses like co-pays or prescriptions, gifts for other people, or our normal monthly bills The key was to pay cash for everything so we weren't tempted to just put it on the card. And it worked: we saved a lot of money, cleaned out our fridge, and realized we could really pinch pennies when we needed to.
Enter June 2013, our EOM for the year. However, I am mixing things up a little bit this year due to a few circumstances:
1. We are putting our house on the market ASAP in anticipation of our move
2. For the next 3 weeks, we have a total of 4 weddings out of town and my best friend Lindsey's 30th birthday party in Florida
3. We are Italy bound on June 30 (can I get a heck yesssssss?!) and will be there through July 8
For all of these reasons, I am allotting myself and our household a total of $75 for groceries, toiletries, household items and misc. shopping for the month of June. I am not including gas in our budget this year because Alex will be between Columbia and Greenville all month (today is his first day as Coach!), and we are traveling out of town every weekend. I am also not including eating out, which might appear to be cheating, but we really only eat out about twice a week anyway, and I don't want to deprive us of our favorite Greenville eateries while we're still here to enjoy them. I think $75 will cut it because we have a freezer full of meat and a pantry full of dry goods, so we'll just need to buy fresh produce and dairy and that's about it. And we need to clean out our pantry and freezer before we make the big move anyway (I am hoping, praying, and crossing fingers that our house will sell quickly!).
The only "misc. shopping" things that are not included in the $75 budget are things we need to purchase for our trip: a new camera, possibly a new suitcase, and comfy shoes for all the walking we'll be doing. Just putting that out there as a disclaimer!
This EOM will definitely be different than last year's: in some ways, it will be easier, and in others, tougher. If you're looking for a good challenge, join me in sticking to a strict budget and saving tons of money in the process. You'll be shocked at how good you'll feel at the end of the month!