Since reading Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover three years ago, I’ve been taking our finances far more seriously. One of the things I’d been interested in trying out was a No Spend Month. For those unfamiliar with the term, it is a month where you don’t spend money on anything outside of your basic necessities.
While neither my husband or I are big spenders to begin with, I’d been wanting to try out a No Spend Month to not only help us be more mindful about where our money was going, but also to ensure we weren’t spending too much with a little one on the way.
I decided, on a bit of a whim, that the month of June would be our No Spend Month. Outside of our basic necessities, we weren’t going to be spending anything. I quickly realised, however, that things would need to be slightly more nuanced than that, because we had a fair few baby purchases coming up.
As such, I decided to ensure our budget (which I recently did a complete overhaul on and can share more about, if anyone’s interested) reflected the following rules:
- Mortgage and Utilities, like gas and electricity.
- City Taxes, which included mandatory fees for trash, recycling and water facilities, etc.
- Insurance, which covered our home and health insurance fees.
- Groceries, which covered all of our food-related expenses. The allotted amount was above average, as I would be participating in a meal train and needed to cook several meals for six people.
- Household Goods and Personal Grooming, which covered toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent, shampoo, soap, etc.
- Baby Expenses, which covered, amongst other things, the purchase of the pram, cot, and newborn clothes.
- Presents, which covered birthdays and other special occasions that required gifts.
- Internet and television, which fall under a package deal.
Any purchase that didn’t fit within the above approved categories was, simply, not going to happen.
How We Fared
Actually, we did quite well. There were a two times where I was personally tempted to buy things I didn’t need – once by a new pair of earrings and once by a household item we weren’t even close to running out of that was on sale – but simply knowing I couldn’t spend anything outside of what I had budgeted for helped immensely.
That said, we did go over budget in some of the categories:
- Insurance. It turned out that a visit to A&E in May wasn’t fully covered by our health insurance, so we received a small medical bill early on in the month that I hadn’t budgeted for.
- Internet and television. Our provider announced three days into the month that they were upgrading their servers to ensure even faster internet, so our monthly fee was slightly higher than I had budgeted for.
- Groceries. The meal-train meals I had to make turned out to be slightly more expensive than I budgeted for, we had unexpected guests one weekend, and we ran out of most of our pantry staples, so we went sadly a bit over budget in this category.
- Household expenses. Because older European homes, pregnant women, and heat don’t tend to go very well together, the unexpected, scorching heat wave at the end of the month ensured we were over budget in this category.
But we were also under in two categories:
- Baby expenses. Thankfully, I was able to shop sales and use coupons for most of the baby things. However, the loveliest gesture from my parents ensured that our pram, which made up the biggest chunk of the budget, was a gift, which more than compensated for all of the categories we were over in above.
- Presents. We discovered we had a toy store gift card we had already purchased last year that we could use as a present, so this ensured we were slightly under budget in this category.
As a result, the budget more than evened itself out and we were able to put more money towards our savings account than I had originally budgeted for.
I’m actually quite happy with how we did. Even though we were over budget in a few categories, we ended up actually saving money, which is always a positive in my book. If I’m honest, I am a little disappointed in our grocery budget. It is the one category we sometimes over-spend in, and knowing this, I should’ve been a little more careful about how much money I allocated to it.
That said, this No Spend Month was a good thing. It made me more aware of where our money was going. I found myself checking in with our bank account and budget every two to three days, which made me pay attention to our spending and our numbers and allowed me to have a better idea of how we were doing overall.
I would truly recommend a No Spend Month for anyone looking to be more mindful about their money. Since my due date is fast approaching, it will be a little while before I’ll try it again, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to before the end of the year!
Have you ever tried a No Spend Month or other financial challenge? If so, how successful were you at it? I’d love to know!