January Money-Saving Challege: No Spend Month

Have you seen the phrase “no spend month” around the web? I have, and I’ve decided now is a good time for our family to implement our own modified version of a no spend month in order to catch up on some spending we did during end-of-the-year sales. (Like that spontaneous jaunt to the outlets in Destin that in part turned out to be a haven’t-shopped-for-winter-clothes-in-three-years and let’s-get-crazy-cheap-winter-clothes-for-the-kids-for-next-year shopping excursion.) How many of you feel like you need to recover from some recent spending?

I’ve read about families who go down to a $250 budget for everything besides bills during their no spend months. I would definitely like to do that sometime, but I can’t do that right now. However, I can commit to no “creative” budgeting. I can commit to not making any purchases besides our necessities this month — and to being especially reflective and strict about what constitutes a necessity.

I like the prospect of becoming more aware of the amount of time and effort I spend researching, thinking about, buying, and often returning or exchanging certain purchases. I look forward to the creative solutions we’re certain to come up with when we can’t buy an answer to a problem. And I know we’ll be able to use no spend month to really consider the value and timing of certain purchases, big and small, that we might make in the near future.

My goals by the end of the month:

  • To have money left or even untouched in some budget categories such as petty cash, dining out, entertainment, and more.
  • To gain increased awareness about when and how I spend money. Do I get frustrated with something that’s not working out and immediately wonder what I can buy to make it better? Do I turn to product research when I need a mini-project and then get fixated on something I think I need?
  • To begin to change spending habits per what I learn about my spending habits in the point above.
  • To learn to avoid situations that lead to “leaky spendingas discussed by Erica of Northwest Edible Life. For example, do I ever really need the “discoveries” I make at the dollar section in Target? Maybe. Probably not always — and I doubt I’ll actually miss what I pass up.

Challenges I foresee are a little trip to Atlanta and the fact that I do need new running shoes. Since the Atlanta trip was planned before I decided to do this challenge (and since Atlanta provides some unique and special shopping opportunities: Ikea, Trader Joe’s) I think I will just do my best to spend wisely and double-think each purchase. The running shoes (I just started running but am pretty into it already) I think fall into the necessity category, given the blisters from my too-small, pre-baby sneakers.

So who wants to use January to become a little more aware of spending habits? Who wants to end the month with savings that could go toward paying down some debt or into a vacation savings fund? Who’s with me for a somewhat relaxed but conscious effort to spend as little as possible this month?

To read more about the benefits of a no spend month and others’ experiences with the adventure, see:
Stop Leaking Money and Start Valuing It With No Spend Month… 
No Spend Month: Start Here
The No-Spend Experiment