I recently posted that I was planning to participate in a No Spend Challenge Month. In an attempt to even out our spending, I cleverly planned this challenge for March, which fell between two expensive months for us. My ultimate goal was to save at least $600.
Here is how we actually did.
Dining Out & Entertainment
I knew that giving up dining out would be hard for us because it disrupted our usual Date Night Friday routine. This is something that we look forward to all week and really enjoy. Several Fridays during the challenge, we grilled nice steaks (that I had on hand) with all the fixings and paired them with a bottle of red wine from my fully stocked wine rack. It almost felt like dining out.
But on the 2nd Thursday of the Challenge we cheated with a trip to our favorite local brewery. It was Mug Club Thursday, so as a member my husband got two 20 oz mugs for $5.50 total. We also planned it so that we arrived during their Happy Hour. That meant my pint of beer was $2.50 and the order of putine that we shared was only $6. Our bill came to $14. I paid with my Amex card which has a $10 per month dining credit, so once the credit was applied, our cheat date only ended up costing us $4!
Date night Friday on day 26 was a planned cheat. We ordered BBQ Take Out for dinner from a local restaurant. This awesome meal came with 4 types of BBQ meats, 2 sides, corn bread and hubby ordered banana pudding. We used a gift card we received at Christmas to cover most of the cost and then applied his $10 monthly Amex dining credit toward the remainder. Final out of pocket cost $3.
Thanks to our smart cheats, we spent less than $8 on Dining Out.
Since we are still in a pandemic, we really haven’t been spending much on entertainment. We watched movies, worked on a 1,000 piece puzzle together and did a lot of yard work!
Dining/Entertainment savings $240.
One of my goals during the challenge was to drop our monthly grocery bill from $100-$150 per week down to just $50. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. As an added bonus, I am happy to report that I was able to work through a significant amount of surplus food in my cupboard and freezer.
- Week 1: $48.86
- Week 2: $48.40
- Week 3: $51.56
- Week 4: $50.94
- Meat Market: $30.20
In addition to cutting our weekly spending down to $50, we applied $150 to our grocery spend from a credit card statement bonus that we received. This brought our spend down to $79.96 for the month for a final savings of $354.
Shopping & Home Improvement Store
I completely avoided doing any non essential or online shopping and somehow managed to keep my husband out of the Home Improvement store all month. That means we had zero spend for shopping during the entire month of March. Yay!
Shopping/Home Improvement Store savings $200.
Beer, Wine and Alcohol
Even though my wine clubs were sending some pretty tempting offers all month, I ignored them and stuck to what I already had on hand. We did make one small purchase though. We bought a bottle of Mumm Napa Brut Special that was on sale at a price that I couldn’t resist and a pack of beer for the hubby who has been working overtime.
Beer/Wine/Alcohol spend of $32 for the month for a savings of $120.
I feel like we were successful with this challenge. Our total savings for this month (even with a few cheats) came to $914.
All calculated savings are based on our average monthly spend for each category.
As I predicted, not being able to dine out was the hardest part of the challenge for us. That is why we used strategic cheats to feel less deprived and still spend virtually no money in this category. I was happy to work through items that we already had on hand in our cupboard, wine rack and freezer. It really helped us be able to cut our spending for the month.
Even if I hadn’t applied the credit card bonus to my grocery purchases, we still would have hit my initial goal of $600. But me not being one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I took full advantage of the credit card bonus, our monthly dining credits and the gift cards that we already had.
The last year was hard. We were stuck at home most of the time. Groceries were often in short supply and prices increased. In order to stay safe, we did more online shopping and cooking at home. All of these things increased our monthly spending. Going forward, we are going to try to reach a comfortable level somewhere in the middle of our Over the Top covid spending months and our Extreme No Spend month. It’s all about Balance.
Dream, Plan, SAVE, Adventure!
Check out Rachel Teodoro’s blog for recipes, DIY projects and more great money saving tips like the No Spend Challenge.