I was inspired by Rachel Teodoro, a fellow blogger, who recently posted about her family participating in a no spend challenge for February. Take a minute to click the link and read Rachel’s post which outlines the how-to principles and provides some free tracking printables.
February in Review
In February our dining out costs have been through the roof! First of all, it is my husband’s birthday month and dining finally reopened in Michigan so we went a bit wild. Next, we took a long weekend trip to a foodie paradise and treated ourselves for not having lost our minds at home during Covid.
I was able to use award certificates for 2 of the 3 nights of our hotel stay which kept our total lodging cost under $200. But we came home from the trip to an unexpected home maintenance issue that added another $200 to our monthly spend. Ouch!
Planning for April
Looking ahead, April will be another expensive month. My adult daughter and I are taking our annual Girls Getaway trip to Arizona that we had to cancel last year due to Covid. I was able to use travel credits from the cancellation to pay for the flights and hotel. Although that saves us a ton on the trip, we will still be eating out, have to pay for our rental car and any other activities.
With quiet March tucked neatly between these two high spend months, it is the perfect time to complete a No Spend Challenge. It will give our budget a minute to breathe and put some extra cash in the kitty toward travel, savings or small home improvement projects we are planning over the next few months.
What We Will Cut Out
- Dining out
- Non essential shopping (clothes, decor, wine, gadgets and etc)
- Limited Grocery
Identifying Our Potential Weak Spots
Usually I am a frugal grocery shopper who buys items on sale, and stacks the savings by using coupons and rebate apps to get even better deals. But our grocery budget has steadily crept up since the beginning of Covid. I partially attribute this increase to limited availability which led to rising food costs. But dining out in Michigan was not an option for a very large portion of last year which also meant all our meals were now at home. So I found some lock down comfort by getting really creative in the kitchen and by planning extensive menus for our Date Nights at Home.
One thing that I am excited about is taking this month to use up food that is already in my pantry. I have plenty of surplus items and will begin meal planning ways to work through those items. Of course, I will still be purchasing fresh produce, meat and other perishables, but no treats or non grocery items.
My weak spot this last year (and a lot of other people’s too) has been wine purchases. But after a recent wine delivery order and some bottles that I purchased during our trip to Traverse City, I firmly believe that I can make it a month without buying any more wine! That’s a big savings in and of itself. Cha Ching!
Home Improvement Store
My husband made 9 separate trips to the home improvement store in February totaling more than $200 in miscellaneous items. It is the only place he actually likes to shop. His challenge this month is to stick to necessary items only. No grey t-shirts (he is obsessed with grey t-shirts) or fun new guy gadgets!
Date Night Friday is something we have done for years. It started when I worked two jobs and the kids had busy schedules so we needed to claim some time for just the two of us. The kids are grown now and I only work one job, but we have continued our Friday Night tradition.
Cutting back our dining out will be the hardest item for both of us. We do have one restaurant gift card that we can use sometime in March if we start to falter. Otherwise, it’s Date Night’s at Home for all of next month. There are plenty of steaks in the freezer and the bar is stocked, so we will do our best.
If we successfully stick to the plan, we should save a minimum of $600 next month. I have tons of will power and that amount is enough motivation to get me to take this challenge seriously. Honestly, how well I do will depend on how much cooperation or grief I get from my husband. Each time I mention this plan he arches his eyebrow or gives me an eye roll. So we shall see.
Stay tuned because I plan to keep a tracker and will let you know how we did at the end of March.
Have you ever tried a No Spend Challenge or anything similar? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Dream, Plan, Save, Adventure!