How Much I Saved During My No Spend Month
Every year I try to do a ‘No Spend’ month to see how far I can go without spending money, to save money and to basically ensure I’m controlling my money and that it’s not controlling me. As I gear up for my 2022 ‘No Spend Month’, I’ll review last years challenge. I’ll talk about what I spent, where I fell and how much my no spend challenge saved me for the month. See the real figures at the end. I also kept a diary of how the challenge progressed on a week to week basis which I have posted below.
No Spend Month Challenge Rules and Exceptions
I think that when it comes to the 'No Spend Month' it's important to 'do you'. In the book 'The No Spend Year' which inspired this whole challenge, she was the bomb.
The author didn't spend anything other than absolute essentials - including eating a cheap diet and riding her push bike everywhere.
That's not going to be practical for me because I have two kids, their school is on the other side of town and I'm not a fan of epic deprivation. I'm not in this to deprive myself of the things I love, my motivation is instead to challenge myself within limits and to make sure that I'm spending my money, time, and resources on what's best for me.
I've absolutely lived on next to nothing before. When my daughter was born and I took nine months off work, I budgeted down to the last cent and $20 in surplus cash felt like winning the jackpot.
But in the 'boom' years since, I've become super complacent with my money and my habits.
And I mean it about the habits. I used to manage my time a lot better, but I've become lazy and spend time scrolling through social media (which brings me very little in value) instead of doing the activities I love - like painting or reading or hiking. 'The Month of Less and More' isn't just a challenge about money for me - it's about eliminating the things that don't bring any lasting value to my life and freeing up time and resources for the things that do.
But - lets get to the point, because if you are reading it, it's probably because you are interested in the actual money side of 'The Month of Less and More'.
The kids and I had to make our own free fun during the 'No Spend Challenge'- not a bad way to spend the afternoon.
No Spend Month Rules:
THINGS I CAN ABSOLUTLY NOT SPEND MONEY ON: (Unless it's BANKED money, which I will explain soon)
Take Out Food
Holiday Entertainment/Accommodation/Activities (Transport costs okay)
Hair and Beauty (unless it falls under the grocery category)
General Expenses That I Have Not Planned For
Toys (aside from gifts)
THINGS I CAN SPEND MONEY ON:
School uniforms for the kids (but I need to try and find secondhand options first)
School excursions and education support for the kids
Tooth Fairy Money for the kids
Birthday Gifts for kids only (no adults - I figure they are old enough to understand)
Replacing Broken Items (if they can't be repaired - but it has to be the cheapest option either from Kmart or a cheap store or second-hand).
THINGS I CAN SPEND MONEY ON BUT HAVE TO TRY AND KEEP COSTS LOW:
Transport - I can spend whatever I like on fuel and public transport, but I have to buy the fuel from the cheapest place available (using the fuel watch site) and no Ubers or Cabs.
Electricity - I need to keep the costs down as much as possible without being a scrooge. I can use my heating and cooling systems but only if I layer up, strip down and still need them. Showers limited to 4 minutes a day unless I have to shave my legs. I still expect that this may be higher than last year because I recently moved house and it's 3 x the size of my old one, so it will be interesting to see if I can reduce this or keep it the same.
Phone and Internet - I expect I may pay more this year simply because when I moved house, I ended up with such a crappy connection that I haven't been able to fix so I frequently need to use stick internet when the wi-fi plays up (which is often). But there is no excuse for my phone bill. It needs to come down.
Groceries - I expect a huge drop in my grocery bill. The rule is that I can buy whatever I want in this category but it has to be from the cheapest possible place. This means that Woolworths, Coles, Hello Fresh and Convenience stores are out and ALDI and the markets are in.
THINGS THAT ARE EXCLUDED FROM THE CHALLENGE:
Things that I need to live including but not limited to medication, housing, insurances, business expenses, tyres, bills and car maintenance etc.
*******THE BANKED MONEY EXCEPTION RULE********
Because I really want to motivate myself to act on some of the hundreds of business ideas and improvements in my head, my 'No Spend Month' is going to be a little different from most peoples. I'm allowed to spend whatever extra money I make this year through new business ideas, services and improvements on whatever I like.
It's going to be called 'BANKED MONEY' and it's basically any extra income that I wouldn't normally make. I can spend this on WHATEVER I like. So that means if I actually take my bottles to the recycling facility and cash them in and make $20, it goes to 'banked money' because I normally just throw them in my own recycle bin and forget about them.
Some of you might think this is cheating and I understand BUT my whole point of this challenge for me is to make January 2021 the month 'of less and more'. Spending less (money, time and resources) on the things that don't matter (social media, takeout food) so that these resources can go on the things that do (Friends/Family/Health/Business).
By allowing myself to spend the 'Banked Money' I have all the motivation I need to improve and expand my business, while also becoming more conscious about what I'm spending my money on.
The 'No Spend Challenge' meant lots of weekends hiking!
No Spend Month 2021 - Week One Recap
I’m a week into my ‘no spend challenge’ for 2021 and it’s been pretty good. Already I am pleasantly surprised to log onto my bank account and see that even while paying out expenses, the amount continues to rise. A breakdown of the figures for this week are:
Transport: $71.11 – This includes a full tank of fuel and toll fees. So far, I’ve stuck to the rules and checked the prices at all the stations before fuelling up. I usually fuel up at the same service station every week, but I saved 4 cents per litre by going with the cheapest fuel available locally.
Groceries: $76.45 – I stuck to the rules and made a list and shopped at Aldi instead of Coles or Woolworths.
Donations: $25 - I'm usually the first person to donate but I did plan that this year I was only keeping my regular donation to World Vision and wasn't donating to anyone else. Sadly, most of Australia is doing it tough right now and after wrestling with it for two days, I finally decided that it would be okay to donate something if it came from my 'banked' money stash.
Banked Money: $140 – Just to recap, banked money is money I have made on the side that I wouldn’t normally make. This can come through recycling, new work ideas, making changes to my business that make more revenue, having a garage sale etc. The main thing is that this is cash I wouldn’t have under other circumstances. It can be spent however I want. This week’s banked money comes through going through my accounts (which I never do) and realising that I’d been paying some strangers phone bill for the last four months! The bank has refunded the money, but I had to cancel my card and I’m still waiting for a new one. I also used $25 of this as a donation to the Australian Bush Fire Crisis so my banked money total is now: $115
No Spend Challenge Highs and Lows:
Probably the high point of the challenge so far is that I feel good energy wise – probably because I haven’t been able to eat take-out! I’ve been keeping busy by going for long walks (my dog is stoked) and I borrowed a bunch of books and DVD’s from the library. I’ve read one of the books ‘The Eight Hour Diet’ and it was pretty good, and I watched a movie called the ‘Aftermath’ which was pretty slow. Still have another 3 books and 3 DVD’s to get through.
The low point was probably staying home last night instead of going out to the pub with friends who were headed out. I’d usually be there with bells on so I’m feeling a bit socially isolated at the moment. Also Friday night, mates invited me to dinner, and I had to pass on that even through I love the venue. Technically I could have used some of the banked money but I’m trying to save it for travel instead.
Daisy Hill Koala Sanctuary - Free Entry but I didn't see any koalas. The hike was great though.
No Spend Month Week Two Recap
It's week two of the 'No Spend Challenge' and it's been - reasonable. I did spend a chunk of 'banked money' this week which is within the rules but also left me feeling ......slightly deflated. I wanted to save it for my Cairns Road Trip in April but as you will see........................I spent some of it on weird shit!
But before we get into the expenditure, I thought I'd do a quick recap of the books I've been reading and movies I've watched on the past week. These, of course, are courtesy of my local library and free. First up I watched 'Coco Avant Chanel' which was surprisingly good even though it was in French and I had to watch it with subtitles on.
Regarding books, I tried to read 'Going Solo' and 'Fake' by Eric Klieneberg and Robert Kiyosaki respectively but couldn't get into either of them, so I gave up. I am however, half way through 'Crushing It' by Gary Vaynerchuk. I'll let you know what I think of it next week.
Okay, now for the important part: Expenditure.
No Spend Challenge Outgoing: (Note does not include fixed expenses like insurance, accommodation, or biz expenses)
General: $14.43 - Buffer (More on this soon) + $30.99 on Gaming (More on this soon)
Take Out/Dining Out: $12.50 (Roast and Toast') + $9.50 breakfast at the Markets
Banked Money $36 (from raised prices)
Okay so let’s talk about the expenditure. As you can see, I spent $14.43 on an app called Buffer which schedules your social media posts for you. It's a good app but I haven't used it in about a year due to less of a focus on social media. I actually thought I'd cancelled it so I was a bit dismayed to see the subscription fee show up on my account statement. Needless to say its cancelled for sure this time!
I spent $30.99 on a game. This is one of the expenses I am a bit........sad about really. It's a silly game that I play on my phone occasionally and its completely additive. I've deleted it about 100 times but I keep reinstalling it. It's like Candy Crush on crack for me! It came from my 'banked money' so it's within the rules of my 'no spend year' but still!
I grabbed take out on Saturday for the first time this week from the 'Roast and Toast'. I spent on $12.50 on a sandwich and chips and in hindsight I wish I had just gone to the grocery store instead BUT all things considered, I'd just hiked Mt Coo-tha and I was starving and two hours from home so ..................also it was banked money so allowed. I also spent $9.50 on breakfast at the markets the next morning. This was worth it. It was the global food markets, and I really enjoyed the food - again using banked money.
I also spent $7.50 on a beer at a free concert I went to (obviously using banked money). I'm not to upset about this considering the band was free and enjoyable. Although it was tough to limit it to one beer. If I’d had more banked money, I would have used it. I also spent $54.01 on accommodation. I really wanted to hike Mt Coo-tha, visit the Daisy Hill Koala Sanctuary, and see this free band at Greenbank, and I decided to spend money on a night’s accommodation at a Buddhist Centre rather than drive the two hours home at night after the concert. Which was a good idea because I was really tired by the time, I left the concert anyway. The accommodation was right next to the Koala Centre, so it worked out well for me since I got to visit it twice - once in the afternoon and again the next morning. This was paid with banked money as per the rules.
Okay, so regarding 'banked money' for the week. I pretty much spent the $36 I earned this week and the remaining $97.50 from last week. For those of you who don't know, banked money is money that comes in on top of my usual income. It can come though recycling bottles, raising prices, new business ideas etc and I can spend it with no rules attached on whatever I like.
At time of writing, I have 50 cents left, ha ha. The $36 I raised this week came though raising my prices on some of my products at work. This is something I have needed to do for a long time but the 'no spend challenge' finally motivated me to bite the bullet and do it.
The building and stoking of the fire kept the little man happy for hours during the no spend challenge.
No Spend Challenge Week Three Recap - Off the Wagon
Off the wagon. I have fallen off the wagon this week. For starters, after 22 days without a cigarette, a night on the Jack Daniels with a friend resulted in my relapse. I'll start again, but to say I'm disappointed in myself is an understatement. Also, the hangover from the Jack Daniels resulted in UberEats the next morning to deal with the hangover so that's a bit of a blow as well. On the positive side, I didn't pay for the Jack Daniels, it was an old bottle that has been floating around the house forever. Onwards.........
Let’s start with expenditure for this week:
$49.12 in Childcare. This wasn't really my fault. The kid's old service provider reconciled their books from last year and I came up with a $49.12 in debit which I obviously had to pay. Unexpected but little too be done about it.
$58.64 in Take-Out. Most of that was unexpected and because of the hangover. $10 of that was planned for because I went out for a bite to eat with a friend. I'm not disappointed about the $10 but the rest was unplanned and unneeded and contributed zero value to my life.
$12 Newspaper Subscription. This was also unexpected, but I had to access one of those paid articles on the internet and it was the only way to gain access. It turned out to be money well spent because I needed the info.
$15.66 Dog Seatbelt: My dog chewed through her old seatbelt and its pretty important that she wears one (it's illegal not to have one where I live) so I ordered a new one (a chain one that she can't chew through this time).
$8.02 Groceries: This is because I was too hungover to do the grocery shop this week so that's pretty much the only reason it’s in so cheap.
$62 Gaming: I'm not kidding. I really need to delete this addictive as hell game from my phone. This is getting ridiculous.
$8.84 Uber: Again, see the night that included Jack Daniels. No way was I driving after that!
So, in total I spent $149.50 that had to come out of my banked money.
On the positive side, banked money has continued to rise because I raised my prices last week. This week I increased my income by $170.30 plus the 50 cents left over from banked money last week which covers my excess spending for the week. I need to do better though!
The Buddhist Centre that I stayed at for less than $60.
No Spend Month January Week 4 Recap - Still Off The Wagon
Ahhh, well its week four and I have been a very bad girl! Still spending way too much money on that stupid game that has to go all-ready! Lets get straight to the rather tragic week as far as not spending goes:
Take Out: $107.73 - That's a crying shame. No excuse for it really!
Transport: $105.86 - I had to fuel up twice this week because I forgot to at the end of last week, but I did save 7 cents per litre by fuelling up at a different service station to my local so that's something!
Groceries: $274.83 - a huge amount to be sure but you may remember I skipped the grocery shop last week so this is actually for two weeks instead of one.
Cigarettes: $59.85 - total waste of money. Also I'm very depressed about taking it up again!
Stupid Addictive Game: $190.94 Have officially deleted it from my phone!
Internet and Phone: $80
I made $96.20 extra as a result of the price increase at the start of the year. Add that to my $21.30 leftover from last week and I'm still in the red! The money I spent this week that should have come from banked money was: $358.52. I'm now officially in the red by $241.02.
Banked Money Total -$241.02 (Negative)
PS: Spent $99 on a new juicer after my old one blew up. This is under general expenses and is allowed because I'm allowed to replace anything that is broken (under rules).
No Spend January Results:
As you can see I didn’t manage to get all the way through my ‘No Spend Month’ but I did manage to save money. Have a look at the results below:
(**All rounded to nearest dollar)
Jan 2020 Take Out: $549.99 Jan 2021 Take Out $253.95 (saved $296)
Jan 2020 Transport: $430 Jan 2021 Transport: $271.65 (saved $159)
Jan 2020 Groceries: $1285.22 Jan 2021 Groceries: $ 745.64 (Saved $540)
Jan 2020 General Expenses: $859.41 Jan 2021 General Expenses: $361.51 (saved $498)
Jan 2020 Alcohol: $390.65 Jan 2021 Alcohol: $26.49 (saved $364)
Jan 2020 Internet & Phone: $276.65 Jan 2021 $80 (saved $196)
Also zero spending on clothing, entertainment, electricity, books, lottery ticket and hair and beauty categories for this month. I did however spend $283.93 on TV & Gaming which is way too high and an unexpected $49.12 on Childcare. All in all, that’s a saving over last year toked with the results.
All up that’s a saving of $2053.
Not bad for one month!
The thing is the benefits are not just financial. I had to get creative with how I spent my time, so it meant actively sourcing free live music, lots of weekend hiking and visiting free places like the Daisy Hill Sanctuary which I would never usually visit. I also felt way better with my health because I didn’t eat as much fast food or drink as much alcohol.