Saturday, November 30, 2013

Day 30 No Spend November (And the Wrap Up)

Today is November 30th and thus the last day of my no spend challenge.  It is also the hubby and my 23rd anniversary (23 years married, 27 years--exactly--living!).  We went out for dinner tonight for our anniversary and spent a grand total of $8.77 (77 cents on the meal because we had a $50 gift certificate that hubby won playing free online poker and $8 for the tip).  The dinner was fine but I am just not a fan of fancy restaurants.  I prefer to eat at home and if there is something I don't make very well (like Indian food) then I enjoy going to hole-in-the-wall restaurants that are cheap and filled with lots of locals.  But we had the gift certificate so the meal was basically free so I can't complain.

And now, channeling my inner Dar, I give you these facts and figures about our no spend month:

  • we had 10 no spend days
  • we spent $100 on gas (I only recorded $50 spent on gas but hubby keeps records of this and said we did indeed spend $50 twice)
  • we spent $147.65 at the grocery store
  • we spent $23 on tips
  • we spent $29.66 on eating out (including my Blasts, hubby's coffee, fast food, etc)
  • we spent $11 on hobbies (hubby's bowling, my volksmarches)
  • I spent $40 on a gift
  • we spent $108.59 on unexpected expenses (sale on cologne, dentist, certified mail, a copy because my printer broke down, and wiper blades because ours flew off the car)
And some conclusions:
  • having no spend days saves money, the more the better
  • staying home more often leads to no spend days AND saves us gas
  • groceries were pretty low but we had a lot of meat in the freezer so an average month might see us spend $200 on groceries (we cook almost everything from scratch so don't buy much processed food).  The $1 and 99 cent stores save us A LOT of money as does shopping loss leaders at our local grocery store.  I need to kick my junk food habit.
  • we spent too much money on tips, mostly in casinos for coffee in the poker room and at restaurants.  We need to work on cutting this down.
  • we spent too much eating out.  Like I said, I don't even like eating out but most of these expenses are because I didn't plan ahead and make something to eat at home then ended up out and about and starving.  The good thing is that nearly everywhere we eat, we get the meal part free with hubby's casino comps, the bad part is that we still need to tip (see above)
  • our hobby expenses will skyrocket next month.  Hubby pays for his bowling a month at a time--for three leagues--which he will do in the upcoming week (he paid at the end of October which is why this expense didn't show up in November.  Also my annual dues for my volksmarch club and genealogy club will be coming up in December.
  • We generally don't spend much on gifts but December will see a jump in this category as well because of Christmas.
  • I think unexpected expenses show up each month, some small and some big.  Fortunately November was a small expense month in this category (although I would have been happy not to have had to go to the dentist or buy wiper blades or come across a really good sale on cologne)
Some things that helped with this challenge: 
  • Hubby and I were both on the same page with this challenge and both working towards the same goal (we wouldn't have cut our expenses nearly as much if one of us was spending like crazy and the other wasn't)
  • We don't have kids at home (with just the two of us, we don't have the huge grocery bills we did when the kids lived at home.  Also kids always seem to have a massive amount of unexpected expenses)
  • We are both retired (this makes it much easier to have the time to cook from scratch, shop sales, decide not to leave the house for a day, etc)
  • We don't have bad habits that drain our finances (some years ago we would think nothing of eating out two or three meals a day, nearly every day.  Ditto for stopping by Starbucks on an almost daily basis on the way to meetings, mostly out of habit)
In summary:

If you want to reign in your spending, doing a no or low spend month is a great way to accomplish this.  Really making an effort to NOT spend money is a good exercise in self control, and making yourself record every expenditure then doing the calculations at the end of the month is a great way to see where your money is going.  So many times we spend money on small things and not even notice it but small things really add up!

And next month:

I am going to do a health month.  I know people always start their health challenges in January but through (much) previous experience I know this doesn't work for me (I generally fall off the wagon around day 10).  I will make a concerted effort to move more and eat better among other things.  Of course, I hope to retain the money habits I have started to establish during the last month.


  1. Hi April, Thanks for the shout-out! I loved your wrap-up. You made some really good points. Even though I track my spending and try to stay on budget, I have never really challenged myself to buy nothing for a month (other than necessities). In January and February I do a no-spend on "things" but I still spend on entertainment. I also find it easier to keep spending low because of having my spouse on board and not having kids at home. Congrats on your month - you were continuously mindful, and that's what really counts!

  2. Thanks! Im thinking after all of our spending in December I may need to do this again in January! :)