“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry) Ain’t that the truth? And when it comes to having a No Spend Month — which we are in the middle of right now — a plan is not only a good idea, it is a necessity. I mean, you don’t approach a month of no extra spending without some kind of scheme for how you can make success a probability rather than just something to be hoped for.
(Every Friday this month I’ll be giving an update of how we’re doing with our no spend month that I posted about last week. This helps provide accountability for me, which is always much needed, lol, and also hopefully will help anyone who might want to try one for themselves.)
The plan for a No Spend Month does not have to be complicated. Just figure out how where in the budget you will adjust your spending and specifically how you are going to make that happen. Here’s what we’re doing this month:
The No Spend Month Plan
1) Our two big variable expense categories (meaning they are not preset bills), groceries and gas, will be paid for with cash. There will be no cash in our wallets for any other types of purchase. Um, right now this is still in the theoretical stage, as you will read a couple paragraphs down…
2) I made a meal plan for the entire month of January and then did my initial grocery shopping based on that. (I recently signed up for Build A Menu to help with meal planning; I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.)
Related Post: Meal Planning Do’s & Don’ts
I didn’t spend the full budgeted amount on my first trip, because I find that buying produce for an entire month is not a good idea (can you say “waste”?), and my kids don’t like it when I freeze the milk (which I would need to do if I bought a full month’s supply), either. So I generally leave some of the food budget in reserve to use later, or for those ingredients that I was unable to buy at Aldi. Usually Aldi has everything I need, but this week I was there at a bad time (the end of the day), because they were out of stock on a few things that I wanted.
Um, I did have to pay for it with my debit card, though, because I had not been to the bank to get out the cash. I definitely need to figure out the logistics of that SOON. I don’t want to make a trip out JUST to go to the bank, and yet we haven’t needed to drive over that way recently. And as long as we’re in confession mode, let me come clean and say that I haven’t actually wrapped the debit cards in paper, yet, like I promised I would last week. Sigh. It’s a work in progress, y’all. I did finally go to the bank yesterday, though, and got out cash for the remaining amount in both the food and gas categories of the budget.
Related Post: 10 Reasons I Love My Local Aldi Grocery Store
3) The Man is taking salads to work this month. Normally he heads over to Chick-Fil-A and buys a salad every day. Which is yummy and convenient but yes, it does add up quickly. So I stocked up on some salad goodies at Aldi, and he says my salads are actually better and more filling. So that might be a habit that we continue. Which would obviously be good for the bottom line. :-)
4) I made a list of everything we would absolutely NEED this month and set the money aside for it (like for my 16yo son’s haircut, which is VERY necessary right now, y’all; and no, I cannot do it myself, because he’s got a veritable THATCH up there, lol). Unfortunately, there are some things that I forgot about. There are a couple of school books we need for this semester, so I did have to buy them, but I looked for used ones and applied some reward points, so they weren’t awful. And it was my husband’s turn to provide coffee at work. And I didn’t realize I would run out of magnesium citrate, which is a must for my mental health. :-) The total of these things was less than $60, though, so they weren’t a bank-breaking thing, thankfully.
I think a possible solution to that for the next no spend month is to just set aside a fixed sum of money that would ONLY be for those unanticipated needs that come up throughout the month. It would have to be a small enough amount to keep us honest but large enough to compensate for the unexpected. I wouldn’t want it to come from the emergency fund, because it doesn’t qualify as a true emergency. So that is something to ponder.
Related Post: When That Expense is Not in Your Budget Plan
Some people would say that a haircut is a no-no during a no spend month, but my definition is a little more liberal than that. You have to do what you NEED; it’s the extra impulse spending that I am trying to do away with.
Speaking of which, um, I need to make a TRUE CONFESSION: I gave into old habits and bought a Kindle book that was on sale. Right after clicking the “buy now with 1-click” button I had the hugest feeling of guilt!! The book was only 99 cents, and it was about cutting your grocery bill, but STILL! This no spend month is DEFINITELY a great exercise in learning self control! Which I will hopefully get better at…
5) I made a wish list. We will talk about that more in detail next week. (If you haven’t read last week’s post, then you don’t know what a wish list is — so click here to get caught up and get your own free printable!)
So there you have our simple plan. All it takes is just a little thinking ahead. You need to anticipate your needs and also try to come up with a way to fulfill them that won’t involve spending money. Making a plan for your no spend month is the key to making it a success!
***To find out how successful our no spend month was, read the final post in the series: Tips for Surviving No Spend Month to the End.***