No Spend Month: Week 4 Wrap Up and Unexpected Expenses

Ah, Hubris

Last time this week I was feeling pretty rocking about our No Spend Month Prospects. With over a hundred bucks of our alloted $250 left, stretching the pennies to November seemed a pretty simple task. I was sure that if I could just stay away from the sushi we’d have this challenge in the bag.

What I was not planning on was the $42 in school event and activity fees we wrote checks for this week. This, as you may recall, is on top of the $35 for school pictures we ponied up on Week One, which means that $77.50, or very nearly one-third of my entire No Spend Budget has gone to supplemental educational expenses and school fees for our oldest child.

These unexpected education expenses are taking the wiggle-room out of our final six days.  There is probably one thing looming that has the potential to really send us over the edge between now and the 31st, and that’s gas. Homebrew Husband is going to need to refuel his car before the end of the month. He can short-fill, but a full tank will probably run $50.

As of today, I have just under $55.

But you know how I really feel about these unexpected expenses? Frankly, I feel freaking excellent. If there’s anything I’m happy to spend money on that you can’t buy in a Garden Store, it’s my kids’ educations. What else am I saving for if not to be able to write field trip checks as fast as the school can send them my way?

Best investment I could make.

Sure, this means that every dollar of spending has to be spot on between now and October 31st, but I think if I were to whine about spending $10.50 so my kid can go on a field trip with her class I would deserve every shoe that was thrown at my privileged, my-kid-gets-to-go-on-field-trips ass.

In fact, I think I’ll email the teacher and ask if any kid isn’t covered for the class outing. And if they haven’t? I’ll pay for those kids too and I’ll still make my No Spend Month budget.*

Cause that’s the way my spending values roll, damnit.

We don’t do No Spend Month because we’re cheap-asses, we do it because money is a tool, and getting in touch with our financial values through a little self-imposed deprivation once in awhile helps to remind us how we want to put that tool to its best use.

And I think all 8 year olds agree that no use is better than field trip day.

Week Four Spending

Groceries (milk) – $3.99

School Activity – $5.00

School Field Trip Tickets – $10.50

School PTA Support – $27.00


Week 4 Total – $46.49

Prior Weeks – $148.69

Monthly Total – $195.18

Remaining– $54.82


*Teacher email sent before this post was finished.

How did you do? We have nearly a week to go, but the final days are ticking down. Are you feeling more in tune with your financial values or are you just feeling like a latte, finally? Are you worried about making it to the end or do you feel more confident the closer you get to the savings finish line?


  1. says

    My numbers don’t look good this week, but I’m OK with it.

    I ended up having lunch out yesterday. I was an hour away from home, felt a migraine starting and needed to eat more than I needed to meet my self-imposed challenge of avoiding restaurants in October.

    We paid the meat processor for our pork. It was big chunk of money out of the coffers, but something in the plans well before No-Spend October came about.

    I spent a few bucks at a bulk (Amish-type) grocer, which was a case of spending money now to save money later. I was finally able to find some raw milk to try. Wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to buy some because of the challenge, either. Although I certainly would have skipped both the milk and the Amish store if our budget had been really tight.

    I feel good about the rest of the month. We have pork, milk, a lot of whole wheat flour, and a bunch of produce either canned or frozen — what more do we need?

  2. Donna says

    Weellll, that’s what an old fashioned cookie jar is for! Tin can , etc., you know a little stash place for your rainy day $$$, in this case field trip $$$! Love the financial fast idea, it’s just a really good flexing tool to know that you could cut back if you had to, or wanted to. Puts money in its place ( not the most important thing). What I do is have a yard sale in the summer, put that $$$ in a rainy day can, & clean out at the same time.Only you can determine what a rainy day is, so use it as you deem neccessary! Enjoy your blog Mavis!:)

  3. Jennifer says

    Boy, do I have field trip issues! I don’t mind the little ones, but last year when my daughter was in 3rd grade, they took a 12 hour trip 2 hours away that cost over $50. And next year, the 5th graders take a 2 day trip out of state. That one will cost us over $200, because my kid is not going out of state overnight without one of us going, too. Sorry, but I think that’s a little overboard! And this is a school that prides itself on its diversity, which means a large chunk of the students are bussed in from a pretty bad part of town. How are they supposed to afford that when chances are they can barely feed their kids?

    Sorry, this doesn’t have anything to do with the challenge. You just happened to push one of my buttons!

  4. Firefly Mom says

    I had some unexpected expenses this week. I was doing pretty awesome in the food budget for this month until I happened upon a farm stand that was closing for the season. I ended up with over 120 lbs of produce, including 80+ lbs of tomatoes, for under $40. It sent our budget for the month into the red, but it will save us $$ in the long run. I also had to break down and go buy some more chicken feed, but I only bought half the amount that we normally buy. At this point, the only other thing that I don’t know if I can stretch is gas. We have four events to go to in the next 6 days, and I’m not sure if I have enough gas in my car to make it.

    I have to say that this whole thing has been such a positive learning experience for our family! Oddly, it’s been rather liberating to not spend money like we normally do.

    • Jenny says

      I can’t thank everyone enough for their inspiration! We are testing the waters and spending less …. talking about a no spend month in November. It is liberating to have control over your finances. November is a tricky month with Christmas looming, but I think we can do it. The balance of my new roof will be due in November, but I can’t change that….. or the fact that I have only paper on my roof, with a monster storm pending!

      • Homebrew Husband says

        We’ve typically looked at no-spend-month as excepting recurring and pre-planned expenses. So if you’ve got an on-going project and need to keep those roofers working, I don’t think that’s necessarily something to keep you away from no-spend-ing. And if you are on no-spend during November, that’s a great excuse to avoid those Black Friday crowds!

        • Jenny says

          My husband wants to know if stocking up before November is cheating? We’re not stocking up for the apocolypse, but we have some known food expenses for Thanksgiving. We don’t have the larder that most of you have.

  5. Kay says

    Do you have a contingency fund (or as Mary Hunt calls it, a Freedom Acoount)? Every month we have a chunk of money automatically sent to a savings account. I divide that money into sub-accounts using a binder with separate sheets of paper for each sub-account to track how much goes in each month & how much goes out. One of our sub-accounts is for school & activity expenses for our kids.

    Just wondering if you do anything like this, & if so, how you’d account for it during a no-spend month.

  6. Cindy says

    So you have a soft spot for sushi too?! I also got hit with school excursion fees that I wasn’t expecting…. but I agree, that’s how we roll :) So I feel like I did really well in this no spend month (even picked-up some extra work hours, and got my taxes back!) although I didn’t keep close track, I know I’ve done well because I didn’t buy any extras, stretched our food from the cupboard and have been making alot of garden meals. So yesterday when I took my son and his little friend to the festival at the community garden & they wanted frozen fruit ‘ice cream’ and adobe wood oven fired pizza, I happily shelled out the $16 for the treats knowing that they were eating healthy food and raising money for the gardens. I’m going to carry forward this no spend concept, we’ll not in November (my oldest turns 14, and we’ll be on holiday in the tropics).
    I hope your eye is starting to have less of an impact on your functioning.. all the best to you and yours xx

  7. says

    Erica, you’ve beaten me this week :) Congrats you are a super saver . I bet next week I will beat you. Oops, this is the last week! but not for me, haha. Every day is a No Spend Day for me. I really enjoyed very much reading your posts, your budget and your readers No Spend posts. Thank you so much.

  8. Kallie says

    I’m happy with my results for the month although we still have a few more days left. I will continue with the challenge for next month as well. I’m not too good at being spontaneous, so I didn’t sit down and make a budget, and I still don’t know how much I spent each week, but I know we spent a lot less than we would have. We use a credit card like a check book, my hubby uses the AmEx and I use my REI visa, which both give us a good bonus for using, of course this is only a benefit if we pay it off each month, which we usually do. Our biggest expense that we can cut is dining out, almost all those meals go on the AmEx, along with any of his business expenses. My hubby was shocked and thrilled at how small the bill was, which of course leaves more money to be put toward projects of savings. I cooked at home a lot more than usual and I’m getting better at cooking things for the freezer, so on busy evenings I have something easy to toss in the oven or in a pot for dinner and we are less tempted to get in the car to eat. This has also gotten me into the mind set of figuring out what we spend on food and I will be catagorizing my expenses when I pay my bills instead of lumping them all together. We have a large yard overhaul project in the works and I need to put aside a lot of money so we don’t have to finance any of it, so I have great motivation to reduce expenses. When the yard is done we will be able to have a chunk of money to split between savings and paying off the equity line. Thanks for getting me started in the right direction.

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