10 Jul
2009
Posted in: Budget
By    4 Comments

Kicking Off “No Spend Month”

This year my family started an annual tradition known as No Spend Month after reading about the concept from its creator over at Small Notebook. We chose February for our experiment since it was such a short month and we didn’t know how it was going to go.

For a diabolically disturbing piggy bank that really will make you not want to spend, check out http://gizmodo.com/338630/designer-piggybank-is-disgustingly-clever.

For a diabolically disturbing piggy bank that really will make you not want to spend, check out http://gizmodo.com/338630/designer-piggybank-is-disgustingly-clever.

How it went

Actually, it went really, really well. We gave ourselves a budget of $450 (which still high, we admit, but Nick and I both work full-time and LOVE quality food so this is really quite a substantial reduction in grocery spending for us) for the month to spend on discretionary purchases were the costs we could most easily get under control. (I should point out we researched the heck out of our recurring costs so there’s not a lot of fat on our mortgage, bare-bones services—no cable TV for us–, etc. )

The secondary benefits were also very large motivators for us: to utilize the resources we already have more efficiently (hello, pantry!), to keep a healthy mental distance of ourselves from materials as conveyors of happiness and to spend more time as a family on activities we value—like cooking, which is a good thing, because we do a LOT more cooking. We cooked a lot before, but not as much from scratch.

In fact, we thought it went so well, it’s no longer just an annual tradition. We’re doing it again this month. So far, so good. We have scaled back our budget to $400 to try to up the challenge even more but are hoping that we can do substantially better, though it’s trickier than it seems with gas money thrown into the mix since we commute every day; luckily we carpool as a family for that commute.

How it’s going:

We are going grocery shopping for the first time tonight because we are out of eggs and milk, two things we rely on as staples all the time, esp. now. Partially this is good news…and partially this is bad. It means we had a LOT of food products…mixes, stuff in the freezer, etc. to use up during this month. Perhaps too many. If we didn’t participate in no-spend months, we’d probably never dip so far into our pantry. Which is pretty silly, really. We bought this stuff ostensibly to eat it.

What experiments have you conducted with your family to tighten your belt? Anything work particularly well?

4 Comments

  • I LOVE this idea and plan to implement it…maybe August? We’ve also been tightening our belts and have very much enjoyed more cooking, conserving and, thanks to an inspiring article by Mark Bittman (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/06/dining/06mini.html?_r=1&8dpc), making better use of our freezer.

    • Oh, I hadn’t seen that article! I will check that out! I think I’d like to try canning, too, sometime this year but right now it’s still a little too daunting. 🙂 I think I better check out a library book or something before investing in the gear.

  • It’s a good thing I left before No Spend Month. I was a bad influence on you in the lunch outing department! Now that I’m going back to school, I’ve got to cut back, too. It’s about time already.

    P.S. Your tomato tart looks amazing!

    • That is true! 🙂 J/K. You are always a great influence on me…if not my pocketbook. 🙂 I wouldn’t have traded a single Chipotle lunch before you left!

So, what do you think?