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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?

 


Hope’s Monthly Budget – Fall and Winter, 2017

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This is my current monthly budget. A debt update is coming up next. I think most of this is self-explanatory, but I’ve added a few notes below.

Budget

Personal Expenses Business Expenses Summary
Allowance 400 Adobe 30 Total Personal 3634
Auto – Gas/Main 250 Cell Phones 286 Total Business 509
Auto/Rent Ins 315 Dropbox (annual – Oct) 8 Total Debt Payment 1920
Clothing (bi-annual) 150 Internet 77 Total Monthly Costs 6063
Electric 150 Microsoft (annual – Jan) 8
Groceries/Eating Out 600 Misc 100 Income
Gymnastics 350 Total Business 509 1099 3200
Health Ins 305 W-2 3462
Life Ins (annual – Dec) 21 Debt Payments
Rent 650 Car Payment 400 Total Income 6662
Spending 200 CC 100
Water/Gas/Trash 75 Computer Equipment 85 Savings Goals
Spanish 160 Other 500 Emergency Savings Goal 700
Amazon Prime (annual) 8 Self Lender (Christmas) 97 Couch
Student Loan 307
Summer Camp/Activities 375
Universal 56 Total Savings Goals 700
Total Personal 3634 Total Debt Payment 1920 Total Extra Income -101.0

Details

Monthly Expenses – These are our day to day living expenses. Many have some flex money built in, specifically gymnastics which typically runs $240 per month. I added the extra money to cover the competition costs that must be paid during competition season (Nov-Apr.) I don’t know how much they will be with our new gym, last year I paid $600 in meet fees. Spanish is new. I’ve hired a online tutor to work Princess and Gymnast 1 hour a week, this was our first week.

Business Expenses – I’ve added my regular business expenses including our cell phones, internet and so on because I thought my budget would look funny with out these important expenses. (These are associated with my contract work.)

Debt Payments – I have another post on this category coming this week. I am grateful that a lot of this debt is chosen – summer camps and activities, Universal and a Self Lender loan (a chosen debt in an attempt to help repair my credit) versus stupid decisions or debt hoisted upon me by other’s decisions.

Income – I continue to work three jobs regularly, and have recently picked up a couple of new smaller contracts so we will see how they work out. The kids are starting to ask when I will cut down on my work hours. But I am not there yet.

Savings Goals – My emergency savings is still my #1 goal. But I am starting to think of other “things” I would like, specifically a couch. I’ve put it on the budget as a holding place, but I am not actively pursuing it at this time. In my head, I’m thinking next summer for a couch.

Summary

I am in the negative as far as this budget goes. Reality is that I spend quite a bit less than this on a regular basis, but there are certainly months where it is more. I feel like this is a true representation of where my money goes on a monthly basis.

My FSA, vision and dental insurance and 401K deductions all come out of W-2 income. I have consulted with an accountant and for this year, I am in a good place tax wise due to the Adoption Tax Credit. I will have to adjust my tax rate for next year.


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