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No Spend Month has Begun

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We are all in and ready for No Spend October. Volleyball ended yesterday. Gymnast continues to train once a week, but I believe he’s on the cusp of quitting. It should be a very quiet month around here as far as extra-curriculars go. Seriously, the least commitments we have had in the 7 years since Gymnast started competing. I know it won’t last, but I’m going to enjoy it for what it is!

Food for the Month

I visited Walmart Sunday to grocery shop and spent right at $100 of our food stamps. I stocked up on eggs, almond milk and some fresh produce. My goal is to use no more than $50 more dollars for groceries during the month of October. We have plenty of food stamps left to cover that.

I have created a meal plan for each week along with a list of items to pull out of the freezer each week to make sure frozen meat isn’t an issue. (The meat still being frozen can completely derail dinner plans. In the past would send me out the door for take out. That is not happening this month!)

I plan to cook a fresh meal every day except Sundays. Leftovers will be used for lunches. And Sundays, everyone will be on their own. (Today Princess cooked breakfast for dinner for she and I and Gymnast; Sea Cadet cooked Tilapia for he and History Buff.)

Household Items

I purchased two containers of laundry detergent ($7 each) and 2 gallons of vinegar ($3 each.) Before you ask, we use vinegar in our laundry and for most of our household cleaning. The chore chart for month has been posted, and I double checked that we have the supplies for our typical day to day chores.

I did splurge just a little bit Sunday while out picking up groceries. I purchased 4 mums (seasonal plants) for our front stoop. They would have been $16 but I was able to use Sea Cadet’s discount at his job and got them for right at $10.

Entertainment

The kids and I have spent a lot of time talking about fun things we can do this month for free. We seem to have a steady stream of teenage visitors every weekend, so I don’t anticipate any problems with boredom.

Between video games, a free Redbox movie voucher I’ve been holding on to for this month, board games and long evening walks, I think the time will go by quickly. History Buff and I have each set a daily “steps” goal to work on our health. I’m grateful for the cooler weather and the company on evening walks.

We like to walk downtown with the dogs. Everything closes early so if we go around 7pm we have the sleepy street to ourselves. It’s something I did alone a lot this summer, it’s nice to have company now.

We also have a family goal of having all Christmas presents for Texas family (grandparents, 3 uncles and 1 aunt) before we drive down in November. We will spend some time creating those gifts. My goal in doing this is to save the cost of shipping. I’m hoping we have enough craft supplies around for what people want to make, we typically do. I know Princess has already started knitting and has a large stash of yarn, especially since I don’t knit too often anymore.

We are Ready

I believe we are set. Barring any emergencies, I am very hopeful that this will be a very successful month for us on all fronts. In addition to the obvious financial goals of saving a substantial amount of money by not spending any extra and only paying minimums, I have some additional more personal goals for our family this month as well:

  • Eat dinner together as a family at the table at least 4 nights a week. Our crazy busy after school schedule and Sea Cadets twice weekly night classes has kind of derailed that since school started.
  • Walk at least 30 minutes every day. I return to the doctor this month after being on medication for diabetes for 3 months. Increasing my exercise is my next step to improving and regaining control of my health.
  • Take one day off a week. I tend to work 7 days a week. It’s time I started giving myself a break. My plan is to have an electronics free day, one day per week. Saturdays seem to be the most conducive for this since I do weekly prep on Sundays. I’m interested in seeing how a gadget free day will affect my productivity the rest of the week.
  • Start my day earlier. Since I have now taken on homeschooling two of my sons, I need more hours in the day. I’m planning to start my week days 2 hours earlier then normal to allow for more time to work with them, specifically Gymnast. Wish me luck as this cuts into my sleep time. But I believe it will balance out since we won’t be out late this month with sports, etc.
  • Go on dates more. No this is not a reference to my boyfriend although that is going very well. I intend to spend more one on one time with each of the kids through the week. Seeing as we will be home most days after 3pm and don’t typically crash until 9pm or later, that gives me plenty of time to spend some quality one on one time with each child several times throughout the month. I always call one on one time dates…with my kids or my friends.
  • Catch up on some reading. I have stacks of books I am looking forward to reading. Most are self help or money related. With less drive time, and hopefully more free time, I hope to spend more time catching up on my favorite past time. My plan is to work this into the school time. We will either read aloud or go sit at the library or just have some quiet reading time.

I am looking forward to what I hope will be a relatively uneventful, peaceful month. By removing the temptation to shop, no need to be out all the time and a plan in place, I think our No Spend Month is going to be a hit. Have you ever done a no spend month? What were you biggest takeaways? Do you make it a regular occurrence?

 


Preparing for a No Spend Month

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I have decided to make October a No Spend Month. I’m already talking it over with the kids. Hoping to make it a goal driven game of sorts as they are very much bought in to saving money these days on wants over needs.

There are several reasons for this No Spend Month:

  1. We are planning to drive to Texas for the week of Thanksgiving, all 5 of us. And I need to create a bigger buffer to afford that trip. Even though I do not have to take off work, it will cost me more than a regular week. (History Buff will be coming to GA from VA to drive with us. We will be spending the week at my parents I think I wrote about this back in June when I committed to it. But with my mom’s health declining, my dad is trying to get all us kids and grandkids there for a last family photo.)
  2. The kids time-consuming sports will end. School football and volleyball will be over the first week, so practices, games and nightly carpool commitments will end. So other than a weekly trip to gymnastics, we will be home all the time which makes it much easier to not spend.
  3. While we do get food stamps this month, it will be the last. So I want to make them stretch as far as possible. I believe I can make the groceries we have plus one more good shopping trip last through the month of October with just a small budget to replace perishables.

Planning Ahead

When I’ve done No Spend months or weeks in the past, they’ve been kind of last minute things. This time, I’m planning for it. And I’m hoping this planning will help us do even better than we have in the past.

These are the things I’ve thought through so far:

  1. Personal hygiene – making sure the littles and I have what we need to get through a month. Gymnast is currently out of deodorant and I’m about to be.
  2. Sundries – I need to stock up on some laundry detergent and purchase a back up bottle of dish soap. I’m watching the weekly news ads for specials on this in hopes of keeping the cost as low as possible. Our toilet paper will be restocked on Sept. 12 (subscribe and ship from Amazon every quarter.) Other than that, I think we are all set in this area.
  3. Food – we will be able to use food stamps, but my goal is to shop at the end of September based on a meal plan of what we currently have in the house and buy as little as possible. It would be great to get to the end of October, rather beginning of November and still have food stamps. We are now halfway through this month and still have over 1/2 of August’s resources available. My goal is to clear the deep freezer and pantry over the next 6 weeks.
  4. Gas – with very little driving needed in October, I think we will almost be able to cut my weekly gas budget in half. Woot, woot! That will really help with the extra driving we will be doing in November to go to Texas.
  5. Change in the Weather? We’ve spent this week cleaning out closets and checking on what people need as far as cooler weather clothes. Everyone has everything that NEED, not saying there are no wants, but I do not anticipate needing to purchase anything for October clothes-wise even if the cooler temperatures appear.

Saving for Trip vs Paying Off Debt

The real challenge is going to be┬ábalancing saving for the Texas trip and putting all my extra monies toward debt. We should start having significantly more “extra” monies in October as 1) we cut our spending even further and 2) my work continues to increase.

It has been a lot of fun to start paying extra on debts. It feels really good to see those numbers dropping and even better that I’m not having to stress over every single payment.

My thought is that I need to create a budget for the trip or savings goal. And then once I hit that, put any extra towards extra debt payments. Thoughts? What have I missed in planning for a very serious No Spend Month?


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