We did it! We just completed and survived our first ever no spend month! It was a great adventure and resulted in some good savings. Here’s a great long post about how it went, what we saved and all I learned this month.
Now, I should start by noting that everyone in our family was sick at some point this month. Nothing major. Mostly drippy noses with the annoying coughs that hang on for Nathan and my husband. Since we wanted to avoid passing our germs around or getting any new germs, we stayed home quite a bit this month. That unexpectedly helped us with our no spend challenge, but I wouldn’t recommend getting sick just to save money, of course!
We paid all our bills as usual but I tracked our food and gas purchases carefully to see what we were spending and saving.
My husband made 2 runs to the grocery store for us – stopping by quickly on his way home from school. It saved us gas and me the temptation. We bought 2 packages of diapers, 1 gallon milk, 5 pounds bananas, 2 dozen eggs and 6 romaine lettuce hearts on these two trips. We used $6 in diapers coupons and redeemed $4 in Mperks, spending only $20.49 on groceries this month as compared to our normal $260. This is a savings of $240 right there. Yay!
Since I stayed home more than usual, we spent $285.46 on gasoline, which is a savings of $90 from our budgeted $375 a month on gas. My husband has to drive a half hour each way to work 5 to 7 days a week (depending on weekend coaching and which church we are attending on Sunday) so gas is a large portion of our budget. Still, it was nice to save $90 on gas!
Andy did eat out while at basketball tournaments and used a Buffalo Wild Wings gift card and Culvers gift card – both promo deals that were set to expire at the end of the month. No cash out of pocket for Culvers and Buffalo Wild Wings, but a bit for tournaments. I’ll say we saved another $25 by not eating out in February (estimating low).
That was a savings of $355 in February. It wasn’t as much as I had hoped but it was still a good exercise. Here’s what else I learned during our no spend month.
1. It isn’t really a no spend month because bills always have to be paid.
It’s more of a frugal living month. Yes, the no spend term sounds impressive but there will always be bills that are necessary to pay. Let’s just start with that
2. I like grocery shopping for deals more than I realized.
This was the hardest expense for me to give up. Even though we had plenty of food in our pantry, I still was tempted by the good deals. I stopped looking at the grocery ads so I wouldn’t be tempted by what I was missing out. Since the kids and I view this as our main outing of the week, it was tough to skip it on that regard but we managed. I am excited to go back to Meijer after a month away!
3. We really are living more frugally than I thought.
Outside of food and the occasional eating out with gift cards, there weren’t a whole lot of extra expenses for us to cut. Still, we did have extra expenses. We didn’t purchase any little deals (and the little things do add up) and it forced us to look at what we are truly spending. Our income has been dropping steadily over the past couple years but we are managing to thrive, by the grace of God. It’s a lot of hard work but living frugally is completely worth it so I can be home with our kids.
4. A stockpile is essential to saving on your grocery bill.
Thanks to our stocked freezer and stockpile, we had plenty of meat to eat as well as cheese. We had plenty of canned goods. We had lots of meat in the freezer. We had pasta and rice and flour to make bread. Here’s everything you need to know about stockpiling because this month truly proved the value of our stockpile. We might not have had everything we wanted but we had more than what we needed.
5. I need to work on regularly cleaning out and rotating through my stockpile.
When I find a good deal, I am quick to stock up but we don’t use everything as quickly as I think. That said, there is nothing in our pantry that is close to expiring so that is good. I’m excited to go back to grocery shopping but I am going to approach my deal shopping a bit differently now as we continue to use up some things from our pantry.
6. Eating simple meals saves money.
My kids are happy to eat simple meals. Pancakes for breakfast, sandwiches and fruit for lunch, pasta and veggies and fruit for dinner are common meals in our house. When my husband is at school late, the kids and I tend to be repetitive with what we eat but that’s okay. None of us mind that fact and we’re saving money.
7. Cooking from scratch saves money.
Plain and simple. If you have ingredients on hand, you can always make something! Plus, we never had to worry about running out of bread because it’s so easy to bake another loaf. And really, at $0.50 a loaf, it’s a delicious way to save money!
8. Staying home does keep you from spending.
I quickly learned not to look at any of the Amazon deals because I didn’t really “need” any of those. Granted, our family was under the weather at the beginning of the month, but outside of piano lesson days, the kids and I didn’t leave the house much this month.
9. There is never a good time for unexpected bills but savings will save you!
Yes, indeed. We had to take my car into the shop this month which resulted in $700 of car repairs. Thankfully, we do have a savings account for car repairs so that made it easy to handle because the money was already there. However, we know need to build that car savings account back up again. This is exactly why we have so many different savings accounts!
10. It is good to try new things to boost your savings.
This no spend month was a new experience for us. Was it as hard as I thought? No. Did we save as much as I hoped? Not quite. Will I do it again? Yes.
There are so many ways to save money that are worth trying. Maybe they will work for your family and maybe they won’t – but you never know until you try!
This no spend challenge reminded me that the little things do add up. And when we need to save extra money quickly, stay home and eat from the pantry!
If you participated in our no-spend, frugal February, be sure to leave your comments about what you learned! If you didn’t participate, I’d still love to hear how and where you saved the most this month!