How A No-Spend-Month Changed My Life

by | Mar 2, 2021 | Mental Health

If you follow me over on Instagram, you’ll know that my husband and I just completed a (voluntary) no-spend-month. I honestly expected this month to be a lot more difficult than it was (hence why we chose a short month!!), but we both enjoyed the month so much that we will be continuing with shorter periods of no-spending and doing another full month later this year.

Before I get into the details of how the no-spend-month changed my life, I’ll outline the guidelines we created for ourselves and the few areas where we slipped up.

For our no-spend-month, we were allowed to pay for:

  • Bills
  • Groceries (1x/week)
  • Gas
  • 1 Haircut each
  • Valentines Dinner
  • Things our dogs required (meds, dog walker, physio appointments, etc. – senior dogs are expensive, but these were all necessities)

Things that were specifically not allowed:

  • Booze purchases (we had some at home, but honestly didn’t go through much)
  • Takeout coffee
  • Lottos
  • Online Shopping
  • Snacks from convenience stores
  • Our spending money (in our budget, we are each allocated “spending money” to do whatever we want with; things like spending on our hobbies, eating out when we aren’t together, etc. We didn’t spend from these categories during the no-spend-month and also allocated less money into these categories.)
  • Major Purchases
  • Eating Out (Aside from the one dinner mentioned above)

How We Did

I’m really proud of us!

We purchased a $5 SIM Card so my husband could change phone providers (it ended up saving us $40 a month, so it was a worthwhile purchase). We also upgraded our YouTube Music subscription to the family plan so my husband could utilize it instead of individually buying songs through Apple Music. We didn’t quite make the once per week for groceries, but definitely cut down on the quick trips to the store that always end up costing $50+ and got alot better at eating what was in the fridge/pantry/freezer and pushing off grocery trips. We did buy a lotto ticket at the very end of the month.

What did this month teach us and how did it change my life?

  • We definitely learned that we have previously been making unnecessary purchases that we otherwise would have forgotten about if we hadn’t immediately hopped online to buy them. We already save up for specific (bigger ticket) wants in our budget and don’t buy them until we have that amount saved, but now we are going to be better about making a list of items we’d like to buy and holding off on immediately purchasing them so we can be sure they’re things we want or need.
  • I definitely learned about cherishing, appreciating and utilizing what we have. We are extremely fortunate to technically be able to afford most things that we want, and sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the newest item or to forget that we have items or ingredients that will work just as well as the thing we were going to purchase. I’ve been finding myself admiring and caring for my plants more (instead of longing after the next wishlist plant) and really looking at our house to see which purchases will add value and joy over time versus what are just wants in the moment.
  • Perhaps the biggest thing for me this month has been being able to identify my scarcity mindset. I’m a hardcore, nerdy budgeter who has way too much fun with our budget app (thanks YNAB!) and because of this I know that we have enough money for needs and wants, but my anxiety-riddled brain still convinces me otherwise. I did some digging into this (and have more reading to do, so I won’t get too in depth here), but I’m beginning to realize this mindset extends beyond money for me; it extends to time, ideas, work, you name it…My brain is convinced that there just isn’t enough and causes me excess worry and causes me to think I need to do or buy things right now before it’s too late. I’m looking forward to digging into this more, but for now even just knowing that this is how my brain tends to think has been helpful. I’ve been able to ask myself if something is a need to buy or to do right now, or if it can be taken care of during a dedicated time later (and almost always, it can be taken care of later).
  • My husband misses eating out more than I do, probably because he does most of our cooking, but I barely miss it at all! We don’t eat out a ton, but had made it a point to try to get takeout from a local restaurant once a week during the last year in an effort to support local businesses. We’ve agreed that we will try to cut this back to once every two weeks as a compromise, as we still want to support local, but would rather invest some of this money into something lasting for the house instead of something that we consume.
  • I realized I definitely take some degree of comfort in shopping when I’m stressed or bored. Not to crazy extents, but its definitely been a coping mechanism that I’m thankful to be aware of.

And to answer the burning question of what we are doing with the extra money we didn’t spend this month….

One of my goals this year is to get between 1-3 months ahead in our budget, so some of the extra money this month went toward this and we now have almost all of March’s bills 100% funded.

We finished our basement last year and financed part of it, so we’ve continued making larger payments than necessary toward this.

Otherwise we’ve just continued funding current budget categories, like gifts, electronic replacement and bumping up our savings and emergency fund.

(Sorry, that’s the most boring, adulty answer ever.)

Have you ever done a no-spend-month? If so, what did it teach you? If not, have you wanted to and not known where to start or how to make it work? Are there any questions I can answer for you?

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