Stop Leaking Money and Start Valuing It with No Spend Month October

It’s time to whip your finances into shape.

Money is the band-aid we place over up the gaping flesh wound that is thoughtless, unsustainable consumerism. The wound isn’t healed just because you smack a $20 on it every few days and absorb more blood.

If your money is busy covering up some financial wounds, No Spend Month is like a trip to the ER. Let’s take a look at what’s really going on under that band-aid and let’s stitch you up so you can heal.

If you are like me, summer is a spendy time. While we didn’t spend a lot of money on fancy vacations this year, those boxes of tomatoes and peaches that I buy to preserve add up. The purchase of bulk meat adds up. Those mason jar lids add up. In my case, the money spent on doctors and surgery and $40 eye drops really add up.

No Spend Month is the anecdote to a spending bender. It’s the long walk and intermittent fast after Burger-and-Wing Fest at your favorite pub. It’s a way to reconnect with your money and learn to value and appreciate every single dollar again.

No Spend Month is living on less – way less – than you think you need, so that when you do trade dollars for stuff that trade is thoughtful and made within the context of your larger values about money, spending and financial goals.

Money and Values

Is This Stopping You From Owning Your Home?

I can’t talk about money without talking about values. The two are and should be tightly conjoined. I don’t really value new or fancy clothes much so very few of my dollars go in that direction. I do value food, so a lot of my dollars are traded for high-quality food and the supplies to help me grow my own.

I’m not here to tell you what you should value. Some people are willing to trade a lot of dollars for the convenience of never cooking, or to keep their house between 71 and 73 degrees all year-round.

But you should know what you value. It should not be as easy to spend a dollar on a latte at Starbucks as it to spend a dollar paying down your mortgage - unless you value the latte as much as you value a paid-off house.

When you stop or dramatically limit spending money (beyond a few key items we’ll talk about) you force yourself to assess the value of each purchase. If your total budget for gas, food, incidentals – everything – is $200 for a family of four – you start to get creative. $30 on market sushi for dinner? No way. Pantry rice + can of tuna and some garden veggies for a $3 homemade sushi substitute? That’s more like it.

You start to force-rank what you’ll buy based on your values and you reclaim those dollars that seem to leak away every month.

I have done this exercise a few times – I think this will be our 4th No Spend Month – and I can tell you that if you currently aren’t really sure how you manage to spend X-thousand dollars every month, it can change your relationship to money.

Is it hard to stop spending? Oh, kinda, but it can also be fun. It’s easy to buy quick solutions to teeny problems, which is where the majority of our leaky-money goes. But there is something fun about being creative instead of spending, too.

It’s nice to treat yourself to the luxury of not having to cook at home. It feels wonderful to buy a new pair of jeans that make you feel fit and fashionable. But that stuff has a way of creeping – the treat of a dinner out becomes the unconsidered everyday convenience-food option. The one pair of jeans becomes lunch-time browsing of H&M or Target “just to see.”

Money leaks away, not because you made a values-based spending decision, but because you treated money like a band-aid to cover up other stuff in your life – not enough time, boredom, whatever.

How Can I Not Spend? I Have Bills, You Know!

It’s true: “No Spend Month” is a bit of a misnomer but it’s a lot catchier than “Values based financial budgeting challenge to spend minimal money on useless crap.” You can decide what to include. We do it this way:

Recurring monthly bills (utilities, mortgage, insurance, etc.) are exempt from the budget.

Current children’s activities are exempt. For us this is a gymnastics class for Oliver and a before-school Spanish class for Bella. These are already paid-in-full, but if we had monthly charges for piano lessons or swimming or something, these charges would be exempt.

Medical bills directly related to my eye surgery are exempt. There will be thousands of dollars of charges we’ll be responsible for over the next several months as they trickle in, and the anti-inflammatory eye-drop I’m on are $40 for about a tablespoon of special eye goo. We value me one day being able to see normally again, so this spending just is what it is and we are paying for it.

Everything else counts towards the “No Spend” budget. Food, gas, dining out, purchases, books, iTunes downloads, new shoes, pet food – everything.

Okay, Then, How Much Can I Spend?

You get to decide your budget for all non exempt items. For our family of four, as in past months, we will be budgeting $250 for the entire month. I would recommend that you consider your typical spending on gas and groceries and give yourself a budget that is doable but uncomfortable. Like, maybe you can make it, but only if you take the bus instead of driving 2x per week. Maybe you can make it but only if you start running local errands on your bike. You can make it, but only if you go from $150/week on food to $20/week on food and use what is already in your pantry. That kind of uncomfortable.

$200-$300 seems to be a good doable but challenging number for many families who are new to values-based spending.

What We Are Starting With

Probably a half-tank of gas in each car (we aren’t running out to fill the tanks).

Fully stocked freezer and pantry (come on, the last two months have been all about laying in food!).

Experience doing No Spend before and the total conviction that we can do this – and so can you!

A primary householder (that’s me!) that is still in recovery from eye surgery. I still do not have binocular vision, I cannot drive, I am limited in what I can do in the garden (nothing dusty or dirty – infection risk) and an attempt to walk about a mile yesterday ended in abject, crying-on-the-floor failure because the double-vision overload of walking with my kids almost sent me into panic-attack mode. So there are some advantages to this (no driving) but some disadvantages too (no walking, somewhat limited householder abilities right now – it’s just a bit harder to do everything).

How You Do It

It’s easy.

Step One: Set your budget, figure out how you are going to track. You must write down everything somehow. You can use our Fun Card idea, you can keep a list in a journal, you can note everything on your iPhone. I don’t care. The important thing is that you must account for every dollar you spend. You can either round up/down fairly to the nearest dollar or you can accurately tally to the nearest penny. Either method is fine but if you round don’t cheat it.

Step Two: Designate your goal. If you do this, and you really commit to it, there is a good chance you are going to save a lot of money this month. Where’s that money going to go? Do you have a credit card balance? Let’s pay that bitch off! Do you want to make an extra payment on your house? Depending on how much leaky money you spend, a No Spend Month or two might be able to get you there. Saving for vacation? College? Early retirement? Your No Spend Month proceeds can direct money away from things you don’t actually value and towards things you do.

All this month I’ll be issuing Mini Frugality Challenges designed to help you pare down spending in other areas of your life. I’ll also be sharing resources I love that have helped me get a better handle on our finances and spending.

For now, all you have to do is commit. Rip off that money band-aid and let’s go. No Spend Month starts tomorrow, October 1st.

Are you in?

If you are ready to reclaim leaky cash and apply it to the things you really value, tell us what your No Spend budget is in the comments, what your goal is for the money you save and what you are most nervous about. Got any questions before you commit? I’ll do my best to answer them. Boo-yah! 

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Comments

  1. I am so in!! I love this post and it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time in my life! Ah, I love the universe!

    Our no spend budget includes, groceries, dining out, gas, parking (we live in the city), toys and clothes for the babe, pedicures for me, and random stuff for the house. We were about to start our own version for this coming month, but I love knowing that someone else is doing it too and will offer support!!! Thank you!!!

  2. Most of our money right now is going towards paying down debts (three years left, yay!). And of course the animals…boy do they eat a lot of food! My budget is kind of high because of that. It will be $700 for the month – which is about $150 less than what we usually use for the basics. Bills started going out on Friday so I’m going to actually include everything from Friday on through October. I’ll be curious to see if we can do this.

  3. Great idea!! Just paid last month’s visa bills and….BIG GULP :-(. I need this No Spend Month so much as a good kick in the pants. Great tips. No health & beauty stuff for me this month along with no soda or candy unless it is already in the house.

  4. I’m in, but I am not including my dog or sheep feed in this. I can get creative with our foods, if we run low on things, but my dog and two sheep need their grain. (Especially the sheep, now that the grass is no longer growing as faast or as green. I can’t just turn them out onto a crappy lawn offering crappy feed.)

    While I am thinking about it, does anyone have a recipe for dish washing soap or a way to stretch commercial soap without it turning into the consistency of water? Thanks for any help.

  5. We’re in, but excluding the “musts” like utilities, DH’s gas money for getting to/from work (he doesn’t drive anywhere else…..really) and animal feed. Although I guess I could just go out today and buy it all in bulk for the month…..it would save some gas money having to go to the farm store every other week.

    I don’t get why there are some people on the FB page getting upset about being a “consumer”; I think they are taking your challenge in the wrong way. But as for the lady that “Needs” her caffeine because she has a toddler? Just admit it that it’s a “want” lady, if your body is in decent health, you don’t need caffeine, you’ve just become addicted.

    • I need my caffeine right now cause I’m an addict with a 24 month old, so I get that! But we make a pot at home to feed that addiction on the cheap. I’m all about baby steps, and hope this challenge just gets people thinking about how and WHY they spend the way they do.

  6. It may be useful to visualize 100,000 $4 lattes vs. paying off the $400,000 mortgage balance on a house. It *IS* easier when you’re weak and in caffeine withdrawal to spend the $4, but the image may help give you the strength to make the right decision for you….

    • I love this. And actually, because of compounded interest it’s even more dramatic. People might say, “Oh, well, who is ever going to buy 100,000 lattes?!?” But cutting out a $20 a week coffee habit ($4 latte *5 per week) will earn you $15,040 over ten years when the compounded interest is included. If you and a spouse BOTH cut out the latte habit it’s over $30K. Here’s the math behind that number: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/04/15/getting-started-3-eliminate-short-termitis-the-bankruptcy-disease/

    • My hubby had an unintended wake up call on how much he was spending at Starbucks. One year he got a bunch of Starbucks gift certificates, well over $100, it didn’t last him a month. It really surprised him when he realized how much his habit was costing. It’s so easy to not think about the costs when it’s one $4 cup at a time. Since then he dusted off the espresso machine we already had at home and he now makes his triple latte at home and only occasionally hits the coffee shops.

      Preloading a gift card for those who feel the stop at the coffee shop is a neccesity may be a good way to moderate the expense.

      • Gift cards can be a great way to limit the damage of little expenses, kinda like pre-paid cell phones for people who are prone to going over their minutes.

  7. We do this every month! Only we call it poverty… it’s pretty easy to become a non-consumer when you are raising four kids on a housepainter’s income. Dining out? iTunes downloads? New shoes? I wish!

    • Yeah, many of my readers are frugality EXPERTS! This challenge might not be appropriate for you but hopefully some of the mini-challenges throughout the month can help you target areas of spending where you may be able to get a better deal (health care? car insurance? etc.) On the plus side, I bet you have a really well painted and maintained home for very little money!

      • Not if he’s like my hubby! He does carpentry and hangs siding, and rarely does any of it around the house. Kind of like the cobbler’s children that have no shoes.

        • We’re in! But we’ll be joining the party late, my little brother is getting married in Syracuse NY and we are taking advantage of needing to go out for that by making it a family vacation (in our 15 years married we have only taken one other non-camping vacation, so this is huge for us.) In order to be able to afford this, we have already been living on the tight strings since August and will continue to do so after we get back, so I’m looking forward to seeing what suggestions and ideas everyone as come up with that we can plug in after 10/20 :-) I’ll post budget and what we are trimming after we get back!

  8. Oh man, if I wasn’t about to make a major purchase next week, I’d do this. I may just start after that. We’ve started to be pretty frugal, but sometimes (ok, most of the time) the money burns a hole in my pocket. Just yesterday, in fact, we were bored, so we ‘went out to spend money’ at Big Lots… on things we don’t really need, but wanted. I’ll definitely be keeping up with the things you post as you go through this – something might be helpful for when I finally AM ready to do it.

    • One thing that really helped me buy less was making a list. It really helped avoid impluse purchases and double purchases. I always double check to make sure I don’t already have it before I shop for it. Since I only shop when I have things on my list it helps. I keep a list of things I think I want, before I go shopping I look at the list to see if it is time for me to buy anything on my wish list or if I can still hold off.

    • Hi Sunfire, feel free to jump in, just build in an exception to your pre-planned purchase. You might follow along with the challenges even if you don’t do the No Spend tracking. There’ll be lots of small things to help people assess the Big Lots type spending within the context of your values so it’s easier to see if that stuff is harmless or harmful to your long term goals.

  9. Interesting concept. My biggest impediment to this is that we are out of meat from last years hog and half a cow. I’m trying to be more creative with vegetarian meals but I’m not sure I can make my carnivore family vegetarians for a month to bring our grocery budget back down. I feel like we usually end up doing this in January after the busyness of the holidays that lead to more unbudgeted spending on meals and gas than we can handle. Looking forward though to your tips!

    • Feel free to do the challenge but make an exception for your normal meat purchase. We just bought most of our red meat for the year so I know how big a whammy that can be. You can do this but decide up front to ignore that once expense if you want.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Joanna…It might not be as hard as you think. If you and your SO gave it a positive and fun spin you would be surprised how the children might fall in line and you might be able to put off restocking of the meat products. Eating meat is a learned habit just like eating fruits and vegetables. Explore different ethnic foods where they will be less likely to notice the missing meat.

  10. I’m in! We’re in the middle of a life change (from a single paycheck to the thousand little paychecks) so this is a perfect time to work on scaling back. I’m eager to see what you write on this topic

  11. I’m in (I love a good budget challenge), but I’m making a few exceptions. I have a loaner car for two weeks this month, and I’ve been pondering using it to pick up a few bigger purchases that I’ve been saving for – possibly even a pressure canner. My approach is to allow myself any purchases I’ve already been planning for while still trying to shave a bit of money off our regular budget.

  12. I’m in, but will have to tailor it a bit. We have a hog at the butcher right now and I MUST pay for the pork when it’s ready. I will need to buy some cool-weather clothing for Kat since I didn’t buy pants or sweaters for her when school started. But I’m going to commit my family to not eating out at all this month and to spending as little as possible on groceries (aside from the pork). Now that our camping season is over, most of our extraneous spending is in check, I think.

  13. What an awesome challenge! It will definitely make me more conscious about every purchase I make this month. I cannot fully commit for this month -we are planning to purchase our first bee hive and equipment next week (been planned since March!), and we are going away for a little weekend family get-away later in the month where we will be eating out. However, for the in-between times I am going to make a considered effort to not spend.

  14. mrsralphie2 says:

    My summers aren’t stock up time since I am played off each summer. I have already budgeted for stocking the freezer, so I will start with everything else! Am very interested in your other tips.

  15. I think this is a great idea, and I’m definitely in! I have a pretty good idea of a budget that would be doable for me, but challenging at the same time. My winter farm share starts this Friday, I’ve still got a good amount of my half pig in the freezer along with a chicken, a cupboard full of canned fruit and tomatoes, so I should be good for most food. And this might provide more enticement to eat in…and the impending first frosts give me a reason to heat up the house by cooking delicious food!

    You’re right about how small purchases can leak money away. I’ve already been trying to make as many purchases with cash or check so that I think about it a bit more…it’s so easy to just swipe my check card! I’m working on paying off credit card debt, and have been struggling with figuring out a workable payback plan (how much per month can I really put by for that?), and I think this challenge might help me find the answer. I look forward to reading your tips this month.

  16. Oh, I get so tired of the demonizing of my morning mocha. Not from you (you rock) but from everyone, and I mean EVERYONE who talks about smarter budgeting. Starbucks totally gets the wag of the finger.
    But, you know, it’s earned. So you’ve got a point with that. The whole $4.00 drink thing is a bit tiresome…And puts a huge VOLUNTARY dent in my fuzzy pocketbook.
    I’m in. I’m scared. This is freaking me out.
    But it’s October Unprocessed, as well, so in for a penny, in for a pound, eh?

    I’m totally getting a venti tomorrow, though. I’m starting this whole thing with the start of my workweek….it’s like putting off a diet. HA!

  17. Sounds great! Currently we spend around $850 a month on food, gas, household goods, entertainment, and clothing. We are a family of 6 living in a small-ish town, so not spending anything probably isn’t going to happen. But I hope to reduce it down to 1/3 or 1/2 of what we currently spend. I do have a pre-planned(also pre-paid) trip to KC this weekend, so may have to start this challenge after that.

    I am kind of glad I stocked up on some essentials this past week though! I also have a ton of tomatoes I need to do something with this week, guess salsa will be the snack item around here this month!

  18. Ok, I’m in…and also starting off by having my last Starbucks of the month! And I do hope your eye is better.

  19. Wrong month for me, since I will be visiting family in the Netherlands. But great idea, and all the best with the eye!

  20. We’re in, although we’re doing it a little differently . We decided last week to combine Buy Nothing New Month (http://www.buynothingnew.com.au/) with the $21 dollar grocery challenge. We’re still buying milk (but less than usual, because we buy expensive milk and we go through a lot of it), toilet paper, cat & chook food if it runs out (but trying to stretch the chooks a bit more on the garden, now Spring is really underway here) and a few other things, but trying to keep it to $80 for the month. We’re also still buying petrol, but will take the bus more than usual so it will be less, but what we do buy won’t come out of the $80.

    Of course, it’s only just Spring here, so we don’t have much in the garden, nor all that much preserved, but we do have quite a lot of rice, dried legumes, and so on, and a fair bit in the freezer, so it’s also an opportunity to run down our stocks and start with fresh. And we have Spring onions and lots of greens in the garden too. And Rhubarb is coming back. And we could have honey-pod peas, except the kids eat them just about as soon as they set!

  21. We have done similar challenges where we’ve spent no more than $22 on food in a week. It’s fun and it forces you to be creative. It does help if you have a reasonably well stocked pantry though :-D

    We have reined in personal spending (books, eating out, hobbies etc) by taking an agreed amount of cash out of the bank per week. I quickly stopped going to cafe’s during the day as that took up a huge part of my weekly spending money and I realised that my priorities lay elsewhere.

  22. Hello Erica,
    This is really my kinda of a post :) thank you so much. I’ve been living on less than 10 dollars per week for over a year now and I’m still alive, hehe. I mean I eat well and do not look like a cave lady, yet!
    If you do not mind, let me luxuriate in the telling :)

    Before I moved to Italy in 2008 I was living and working in London; I made a good money and spent a lot good money. I worked in a very prestigious company in one of the poshest post codes in London and I got caught up on the wheel of spending on expensive designer bags, shoes and clothes. (I’m so ashamed to admit this now) and let me assure you that neither the bags nor the shoes made me happy. I was miserable and the pollution in London made me very sick.

    So, in 2006 I signed up as a volunteer with WWOOF.org and stayed on an organic pigs farm in central Italy, near where I live now. Even though I do not eat pork, that experience for two weeks feeding pigs, making sausages, smocked ham and other stuff changed my life for good. I returned to London determined to leave to the mountains and live simple, green and sustainable living. It took me another two years to achieve that.

    For nearly two years and a half I did some freelance translation and that helped a bit for the rent and other expenses. My rent was very low and my electricity bill was very low too because I had no washing machine or TV and neither ironed clothes nor used electric heating. I used wood for heating in winter and just grilled to near suffocation in summer in the heat. There was no way I could or would get an AC or even a fan.
    Anyway, Feb 2011 was the last time I did any translation work and things were getting tough and rough. My main concern was to pay my rent, as my landlady was one of the stingiest and nastiest people I ever met. It was pretty tough and I learnt so many things from that rough time.

    The little money I saved was dwindling and I was panicking. Then, through a friend, I found this place where I could live rent and bills free in exchange for taking care of the house and some cats, 15 of them! I moved in Jan 2012.
    Even though I do not pay rent, etc, still I needed money for food, toiletry and mobile phone charges, etc. So, I decided to be more ruthless and cut down everything. Here how I did it:

    1-I started on my mobile phone; I discovered most of my expenses went on that. 5 Euros a week would vanish in a day or so. A friend would text, I text back, she texts back, I text back, and the 5 Euros is gone! So, I told all my friends that I can not call or text back; the mobile is only for emergency as I live alone in the mountains and I leave it charged with 5 Euros just for that. I can happily confirm that the same 5 Euros I put six months ago are still there :) The funniest thing was that the mobile phone company called me a week ago and told me if I bring in a friend as a customer they would put a 100 euros in my phone! I told them I have no friends who would be interested in this and even if they would, I would not let them spend money on another phone, haha. I felt so good.

    2- I cut down on personal expenses, like haircuts and dyes. Instead I struck a deal with one of my neighbors to cut my hair in exchange of helping her coloring her hair. She does a pretty job and I do a good job as well, so we are both happy. I learnt to dye my hair myself, due to grays infestation :) and use organic gentle dye that I can use again few times. I spend no money on makeup, I hate it, and instead I invest in a good organic facial cream that will last for months. I make my own face and hair masks using natural and organic materials, like olive oil, lavender, from a friend’s organic farm, vegetables from my garden and eggs.

    3- I source all the food I can not grow or forage for from local and small producers and farmers. Not only their stuff cost much less than supermarkets and are good for the health as no chemicals were used but also you get to get lots of free stuff from them when they get to know you and when you surprise them from time to time with a generous slice of homemade cake or a bag of cookies :) That goes for veggies, fruits, eggs, milk and meats, though I rarely eat any meat.

    4- I forage. Yep I do that, as I live in the mountain and there are many edible greens, plus so many fruits and nuts trees. I never buy figs or pears or grapes or cherries or apricots or walnuts because there are so many trees in the fields that belong to no one!

    5- I barter with some of my neighbors and friends. Like if a friend of mine needs help in her farm I would help her and she would give me eggs or meats or whatever I need. If I have plenty of green beans in my garden I would barter them for peas from my neighbor or friend if that was ok with them.

    6- I make all the cards, Christmas and birthdays, that I send to friends. I also make the gifts, such as a cake or a jar of homemade jam or chutney, etc.

    -7 I sold most of the clothes, shoes and bags that I will not use because, first they are unsuitable for the mountains, second, I’m ashamed to put them on as they remind me of my materialistic days. And as I result I generated a bit of money. All the stuff were bought by British expats, as Italians will never buy a secondhand things even if they were brand new. There are no secondhand shops in Italy, can you believe that?

    I do other stuff but the post is already too long. I’m sorry for that. And yes I write down every single penny I spend. I already have 3 notebooks full :)
    Thanks again for this post; it really made my day. I now know I’m not the only one who does this, even though I am a bit extreme.
    Kind and sincere regards

    • Hi Cyrene,
      This is Wonderful! What your story shows, to me, is that radical life changes can mean freedom and happiness if you are brave enough to take the leap. You made a bigger and more extreme leap than many people would be willing to make, and things like having kids and whatnot will definitely change peoples equation a little bit. But if you can leave an entire LIFE of material rewards behind, this shows me almost anyone who is willing to do the work can modify their life to save more, spend less and have more freedom. It really is ALL about values, and making sure your creative energy and expenditures and supporting your values instead of fighting them. Thanks for sharing your story and for being an inspiration!

      • Erica,
        Thank you very much for your reply and kind words. Despite your eye op, you still read my comment and replied. That means so much to me, sincerely.

        Wishing you a speedy recovery and beautiful and fulfilled days, weeks and years ahead. I’m so glad I’ve stumbled upon your great blog.
        Cyrene

  23. I love October for cutting back spending. Here in Arizona, the electricity bills go down (air conditioning), the admission costs for indoor activities go down (air conditioning), and travel costs go down (getting the hell out of Dodge, as the saying goes). My family is not nearly as badass as yours, but we’ve gone through our own version of this lately. We’re eating out less (we were actually get bored with those expensive meals), cancelled cable (hello Hulu!), cancelled my husband’s gym membership (the weather is nice enough now to just go for a walk or bike ride), and cancelled my daughter’s after school activities (after starting kindergarten, she was too tired to enjoy the after school activities). Besides saving a ton of money, we’re really enjoying our activities a lot more because they are SPECIAL now.

  24. So I’m all set for the challenge – it’s been a long while since we did one, and we need to hit the reset button here. I forgot this morning was October 1, so I’m $10 in the hole already (curse you, French bakery!). But I’m not out yet, I’m still taking the challenge. The timing is good for almost everything except we’re finishing the two-year long patio project and have to get the posts in the ground before it freezes. So I’m not going to be counting the patio money in the budget we set. It’s coming out of savings anyway, and while it might seem like a cop-out to others, I might just go postal if the project extends into 2013. And the resulting therapy bills would cancel out any savings we might have had from the no-spending in that area. ;)

  25. Thanks for the motivation refresh, as I’m drinking my Starbucks Latte…. Especially with the holidays coming up, don’t even get me started on that.

  26. This is perfect timing for me. I’m coming off of a summer of training for a 5 day bike ride to support environmental advocacy programs, and in the process I’ve let my own impact get out of control. I’m already in a mode of recommiting to my ethics and getting things back to where I feel good about my choices. I’m also needing to scrape up some extra money for the yard renovations that will allow me to grow more food on my property. #1 expense I need to get under control is eating away from home, #2 gas and fees for organized bike rides. I have more than 1 freezer full of my gardens bounty, so it’s time to eat much of what I’ve preserved so I can unplug one of the freezers and shut it down for the next season. I actually don’t know how much we spend on food per month, my grocery bill may go up or at least stay the same, since we’ll be eating at home more, but my dining out bill will go away and that will save us a lot of money. Other than that I don’t spend a lot of money on things.

  27. For the past two years, I have been using a website called mint.com to track ALL of my finances: checking, savings, student loans, credit card, 401k, etc. This is an AWESOME website that really puts you in touch with your money. It will show you really cool pie charts of your “trends” over time and allows you to set up budgets based on your real spending. It’s completely free too! They pay for themselves by offering you advice, some of which is opening savings accounts (high yield savings is a good idea anyway), investment accounts, and credit cards, but you are not inundated by ads. All of the ads are located on their own “tab”, which you can just ignore.
    Anyway, it’s really worth checking out, especially for this challenge. I’m not affiliated with them in any way, just a happy user. :)
    I’m totally “IN” for this challenge! I was just thinking about flaking out and buying take out for dinner tonight, but I’m going to cowgirl up, go home, and make the meal that is on my menu planner instead and then put that money I saved into my high yield savings.

    • I’ve got a post scheduled where I plug the heck out of Mint. I can’t believe how *easy* Mint makes it to know where everything is – spending, debts, assets, etc. It’s changed my financial management completely for the better.

  28. Well it is a great idea, and I started with you. But we are in the middle of a move and building on to our new house (moving the parents in with us), so there will definitely be money going out for that as well as for animal feed(chickens). However, because of all the current expenses, we are trying to severely cut back anyway, so this is good for us. I am definitely up for the little challenges and will try my best with the big one.

  29. Trellowyn says:

    It’s a great idea and one we’ve used with modest success in the past. Unfortunately September through December is my spendy time of the year. The replacement clothes, shoes, dr’s appts, trips home and for our jobs, extra meds and making new medical insurance decisions all happen now. The upshot is that cool weather is upon us and I WANT to do all my bulk cooking and crafting now. So I dig into my stores of bulk foods and make lots of soups, stews, bread, etc to prevent us from eating out (when we aren’t on the road). I start drying all the herbs I grew this summer and store them for use the rest of the year. We flip off the AC, put on a sweater and see just how long we can hold out before turning the heater on. And I try to determine what I can make for Christmas gifts from what I already have. It’s not a lot, but it does help a bit.

  30. I am so in! We are in need of some money rehab after a spendy summer. I will be doing a post about our NSM over at my blog tinygardener.blogspot.com later tonight. As for now, my laptop battery is about to die!

  31. My boyfriend and I decided to do this for October with hopes of carrying either some or all of it into 2013. Neither of us have budgeted much before so we will have some to learn. Last night we budgeted and today was our first day. Things didn’t go quite as we expected. I blogged about how we estimated our spending and the adventures of the first day here: http://wp.me/p2n9Z3-4J

  32. I’m IN! …with the exception of the fencing and farm gate I have to buy today to keep my puppy on the property (already planned) at least all the labor will be free because I’ve traded through the LETS System here in Australia…I’ve exchanged many kilos of macadamias, some pecans, and as many lemons as I could unload through this trading system to have the fence built. And my hubby has a long commute for his teaching prac for the next month; but at least I can do my part to save by not spending $ casually on getting food out, along with extras here and there. I plan to use what’s growing in my garden more: celery, rainbow chard, kale, salad greens, sugar snaps, garlic, rhubarb, macadamias, pecans, buckets of mulberries, lemons, and kaffir lime… and to refrain from buying seedlings (big challenge, it’s Spring!!) and just start more seeds from what I already have *I will need to buy a few passionfruit plants to grow along the fence (can’t resist…already have a huge mound of compost) thanks for the challenge, it’s been 2 years since my last month of No Spend

  33. Great post Erica! I’m coming to the party late, but am so ready to challenge myself for the rest of October. Thanks for the encouragement!

  34. I’m in. I have my spreadsheet already set-up, and I’ve already spent most of my weekly allotment ;). Egads! This is going to be very, very interesting!

    We’re excluding regular, monthly expenses, like utilities, classes, the credit payment, etc, and have chosen to include all other incidentals – including the membership fees we’re paying to join a local educational organization (for our homeschooling). It’s definitely going to be an interesting month, but, hopefully, we’ll put some more conscious spending habits in place.

    And on a side, related, note: When I first posed the challenge to my husband he was *not* interested, but ultimately agreed to let me play. So, today, he was headed out-of-town on a business trip, and before he left, he had to stop at a store and get a few things he needed for his trip. He has points at that store, and so, rather than using cash for the purchase, he used points – so that we wouldn’t have to add those purchases to our spreadsheet ;). It was funny ;).

Trackbacks

  1. [...] those of you playing along at home, go read Erica’s primer for the No Spend Month on NorthWest Edible Life. In fact, don’t even bother following my rambles without it. Values? [...]

  2. [...] you all seen the No Spend Month that NWEdible is heading up for [...]

  3. [...] things. Things like a new Prius, $400 Jeans, or a Crockpot do. If you are doing No Spend Month, you may already have a running list of things you haven’t purchased because of the challenge [...]

  4. [...] month was no spend month over at Northwest Edible Life.  Great idea, great activities, great information about cutting down [...]

  5. [...] of view and I have found some great information on her blog.  Her latest post talked about “No Spend October.”  After reading the post and forwarding it to my boyfriend we decided to follow [...]

  6. [...] learn to avoid situations that lead to “leaky spending” as discussed by Erica of Northwest Edible Life. For example, do I ever really need the [...]

  7. [...] I didn’t think to blog about no spend September at the beginning of the month because, well, it sounds kind of boring doesn’t it? I think so far this month has been one of my favorite of all time. Wonderful weather certainly helps, but it’s more than that. It turns out I spent an inordinate amount of time shopping, “picking things up”, running errands, going to the grocery store or farm stand, surfing the web for new things, popping into Goodwills, hitting up garage sales, etc. Then when I get new (or usually “new”) things I have to clean them, mend them, put them away (cram them somewhere, let’s be honest), get rid of the old thing if we are replacing something. Phew just typing that is exhausting! After reading a couple of new (to me) blogs Bj and I decided to do a No Spend September. We are not actually spending nothing. We gave ourselves $400 for everything that was not a normal monthly expense, including classes, utilities, mortgage, mama’s helper, and the cleaners. The $400 does include groceries, gas and anything else we might need (basic idea for this here). [...]

  8. […] And in among these challenges, I will try to throw in No Spend months to aid my debt payoff goal! January is a great one to start out with, and so I will be limiting my […]

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