Hello again, savvy savers! As many of my readers and online friends may know, I am always juggling several projects, business opportunities, scholastic goals, and home projects at any given time. With so much constantly going on, it’s sometimes easy to forget one of my main passions, and antithesis for this blog, the ability to save money, while live a better live, in hopes of having a “whole living blog,” to help me have a better run life. So, I have decided to take an old-school approach to spending, and so today finds us with the first day of my last NO SPENDING month cycle for 2015!
Why this crazy idea? Well, a month of NO spending is an awesome way to both reset your spending patterns, as well as to either kick-start your budget or revamp and make changes to any existing budget you or your family may have. This is also a great challenge for personal responsibility; you can track what you have been spending your hard earned funds, and keep yourself on track, in terms of responsible spending thereafter.
I will be blogging daily about my NO SPEND struggles, victories, and suggestions from the previous day, and will be posting easy-to-follow daily challenges for my readers during my no-spend months. As well, each Sunday will share what I’ve learned, saved, and gained from this challenge as part of my Weekly Goals & Reflections Posts. I hope that many of you will join me in this challenge, as we can all you use more ways to save around the home.
The rules are pretty simple:
- No spending on anything beyond absolute necessities.
- Eat from your pantry & freezer as often as you are able.
- And make changes to the way you purchase and consume goods, services, and commodities in your home.
- The idea of the challenge is to keep up with your daily activities,, but the main goal is simply to stop spending.
- This challenge can be a life changing experience, as you may just be amazed at how your mindset and perspective will change after just a month of seeing how you can enrich your life, without spending more!
There are a few exceptions to the rule as follows:
- Unavoidable expenses related to employment, such as gas, are okay.
- Unavoidable school related expenses.
- Doctors appointments, veterinarian appointments, co-payments, family/pet prescriptions, and therapy sessions are okay.
- Do keep existing service and repair appointments that can’t be rescheduled to “Spending” months, such as hair appointments, lawn care services, trash removal, in-home repair services, etc.
- Do keep existing tithing and charitable giving.
- Do have an adequate stockpile of necessities prior to beginning this challenge, such as pet food, bedding, litter, laundry detergent, dish soap, snow salts, bottled water and emergency staples (if you live in areas frequently affected by seasonal weather), etc.
- Do keep up with healthy living habits. I will continue to use my envelope saving system to fund app purchase rebates (iBotta, Shopmium, Snap by Groupon) for fresh produce and milk savings that may pop-up during my no-spend months; due to my PCOS I need several servings of fruits and veggies daily, and these app savings help keep my freezer stocked on a budget.
- And it goes without saying, please do pay all of our monthly obligations; rent, mortgage, insurance, utility payments, banking fees, student/financial/business loans, medical expenses, and assumed or credit card debt.
December is not just about not spending, although that will be our main goal, but ways to budget this holiday season, and start 2016 without the pervasive, oppressive debt of this current holiday season. As always challenge each of you to find ways to live well, live better, find new sources of joy, will spending less. You may just find out just how much we already have, and how little more we really need. And hopefully, by the end of this month, a life rich with family, friends, and creative planning, secured by fiscally responsible measures, will be who we truly are.
This month I will be setting a personal challenge to earn, save, and reallocate $1,000.00 to be used towards my families holiday expenses. Today’s challenges will help me create one-third of this funding. Here’s how:
Challenge 1: Part 1, Commitment
This first challenge has two parts. The first part of the first challenge is committing to the challenge itself. Knowing that starting any personal challenge, starts with following through with the challenge itself, and this no-spend month is no exception!
Also knowing that this October is not just about not spending, although that will be our main goal. I always challenge each of you to find ways to live well, live better, find new sources of joy, will spending less. You may just find out just how much we already have, and how little more we really need. And hopefully, by the end of them month, a life rich with family, friends, and creative planning, secured by fiscally responsible measures, will be who we truly are. In addition, I hope to make my posts comments section a place of encouragement and accountability for us all, too!
I’m not gonna lie, there presumably will be tough moments, and for that reason, with one week remaining, stock-up on any items you currently feel you cannot do without. But the biggest reason for following through with this month daily challenges? In the month of February, I was able to save $1,456.87!
This month is not about thinking what you won’t be spending and economizing on, but what you are saving for!
The second part of this challenge? To physically take a few minutes to make a list for this month, to include the following:
- How much you plan to save this month.
- What are your long-term financial goals.
- What activities will you plan this month, to take the place of your spending.
So, for this part of the challenge you should create a simple, one-page spending commitment sheet. Keep in mind that this challenge is family-centered in nature. For it’s always easier when savers help to keep one another accountable. So be sure to discuss your plans with your immediate family, those living in your home and who will be enveloped in your pursuit of this month’s challenges. I’ve already filled my sheet out, and will have hubby sign our pledge this evening as well. For those who have signed their pledge, be sure to post a picture of your pledge to Instagram with the hashtag #DebtFreeHolidays2015.
Part Two: Meal Planning and Inventory:
The bulk of this month’s challenges will be holiday related, but in order to get onto the tinsel and bows, we must first tackle the practical issues first. If your families budget is anything like my own, then food, and its initial cost, is a big part of this budget. For this month’s challenge, we will be looking
Before beginning this challenge, we will need to address pantry and stockpile organization, meal planning, and freezer cooking meals.
Step 1- Pantry Organization:
My stockpile, though hard earned, is an immense blessing to my home. And as they say, to whom much is given, much is asked, and this rule equally applies to my stockpile! My stockpile saves my family thousands of dollars a year, but I must honestly admit is the most neglected area in my home. But no more! So today, I challenge you all to clean up your stockpile!
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Rotate your stockpile. “Rotating your stockpile” means rotating your stockpile per season. You will need to place goods in order of expiration date, my seasonal usage, as well as keeping climate into consideration; you may need to start storing it in one location for summer and another location for winter, in terms of baking tools, cans, chemicals, etc..
- Long Term Storage: If you plan to store any item for longer than a week or two, you need to know its long-term storage requirements. Some items will only last months or longer if stored in a cool, dry place. Some items must be stored in a refrigerated or frozen environment in order to last longer. Make lists, and create sub-areas in your stockpile; examples are canned goods, cosmetics, paper products, etc.
- Take Note of Patterns: Start a list of your product usage, this will allow you to see what you need, will use in a years time, and what should be donated accordingly. Unused goods are cash wasted.
- Last Forever Items: Nothing lasts forever. Even goods such as bottled water, start to have an altered taste after a decade, so keep this in mind.
- Canned and Preserved Goods: Keep inventory and note the dates of home-preserved items; a rule of thumbs is to keep items no longer than eighteen month.
- Pests: Pests love your stockpile, almost as much as you do! Be sure to check goods monthly, especially in Summer, and any goods that look altered, chuck immediately!
- Dehumidifier: Humidity can alter and mold many goods, so consider running a dehumidifier twice weekly. When able purchase an energy saving dehumidifier with accumulated survey gift cards for free, then deduct part of the cost off your tax return; the deductible amount will pay for the power used to dehumidify your stockpile space!
So, all-in-all, not bad for a mornings work! Keep in mind, this project took me a little less than three hours, during which time I was able to clean out three shelves of goods, and the best part… I assembled sixteen boxes worth of goods which are being donated today to a local women’s shelter and homeless pantry! This project took three hours, I was able to clean out three shelves of goods, and the best part… I assembled sixteen boxes worth of goods which are being donated today to a local women’s shelter and homeless pantry! Also, if you chose to donate goods to a registered non-for-profit with a 501 (c3) tax status, you can claim your goods at half the current market pricing value (so be sure to price goods, save receipts, and use price point guides as you prep items for donation), and the tax receipt you receive can ultimately reimburse you for all of the good, gas, ink, and paper expenses for your coupons thus far this year! Woohoo!