The main reason I started this blog is due to the hugely popular response our No Spend Month story garnered. We were featured in USA Today and on The Today Show as the face of families everywhere who are trying to cut back.
I first read about the idea in Reader’s Digest (my grandmother’s yearly Christmas present), and when I did a web search I found this entry on Small Notebook, a great blog about keeping life simple. It was really inspiring to read, and I thought we ought to give it a try since our Emergency Fund had disappeared. Within a period of about a month and a half we had 3 pairs of glasses that needed repairing or replacing, spent $800 on repairs to my husband’s car, $200 on my car, as well as $300 in essential home repairs. Phew!
I was happy that we were able to pay for those things without having to use credit cards, but I was disappointed that we weren’t able to make as much of a dent in our credit card debt as I’d like to since we had to keep rebuilding the Emergency Fund.
Learn more: How To Create An Emergency Fund
So I proposed the no spend idea to my husband who was game, and we started on October 25th.
I shared my idea at Wesabe [the site has closed] and received lots of great support and dozens of people joined us with their own No Spend Month. It was great to know I was accountable to other people, it really kept me in line!
Details For No Spend Month
What: A “crash diet”for your finances, and a jump start on your savings
How we did it:
Pay yourself first (savings), and then pay all your necessary bills.
Buy only necessities (food and transportation costs).
Keep track of every penny you spend.
Why: To jump start your savings, and help optimize your spending habits. It will show you where you often “blow”money without realizing it and where you make those impulse buys.
We recently ended our No Spend Month (which ended up being 28 days due to the timing of our paychecks) with $500 in savings and $600 saved up for Christmas gifts. I identified a few things that we spent that were non-essential, and we spent more on groceries than usual so I didn’t make the goal I set for us, but the beauty of the process is we can keep trying to beat our score.
Learn more: 5 Lessons I Learned From Our No Spend Month
It was a good thing we did this since the DAY after we ended our No Spend Month we woke up to a flat tire on my husband’s car. Thankfully we have great Roadside Assistance Service through USAA. It took all day, and 2 different claims to Roadside Assistance (the first guy came out in a van and couldn’t replace the tire with the spare since…..wait for it…..the full size spare was flat too!), but we worked it out. We ended up buying 4 tires instead of 2 because the cost of 2 that would match our back tires was $310, and the 4 we purchased were $350 installed. Needless to say that Emergency Fund sure came in handy!
P.S. If you’re interested in trying this yourself I’ve written more about failures and successes with No Spend months.