We decided to do a “no spend month” in January. Click here for the post describing what “no spend” meant to us. Here’s a recap of how it went, what we learned, and what we’d change for next time:
How It Went
Overall, it went really well. It made us very conscious of how and when we were spending money and helped us to reign in spending that didn’t need to happen. We weren’t perfect! We had planned not to eat out at all, but ended up ordering pizza one of the weekends we were working on ripping up carpet and went out to to lunch another Saturday. All in all, not a big deal. We also spent around $350 starting our living room renovation. We realized that because we had planned not to spend money we didn’t really have much to do, so we decided to start on some of the home projects we’d been putting off. It was agreed that the money was well spent.
What We Learned
The main reasons my monthly budget doesn’t seem to work out every month is that I forget to account for incidentals and other non-monthly essentials. For example, dog supplies (i.e. food and medication), items that need to be dry-cleaned, and household items like printer ink cartridges and laundry detergent. I know some of this seems small, but if you have to buy it all in one month it can be $200+ which can definitely impact a budget that you’ve set.
What We’d Change
If we were to do it again I would adjust our budget to include money set aside for incidentals, as listed above, and other things that come up spur of the moment. I would also make a chart of how much we actually spend monthly on groceries, gas, etc. to get a better idea of how much to budget for those things. Overall I would definitely do another “no spend month” in the future. It was a great way to kick of the year and made us feel like we were in control of our finances and spending.