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No-Spend Month My Rear End
I’m sure you have heard about No-Spend Months by now, especially if you are trying to save money and cut costs. Well, we have been thinking about doing this for a while now, and I think we are finally ready to pull the trigger!
This October, we are going to try our hands at a No-Spend Month. This might be a little tricky because it is Big Girl’s birthday month. We will include that in our rules, because she wants an ice cream cake, and she will get an ice cream cake (we just might use gift cards to get it!)
So, to prepare for a No-Spend Month, I have done a little reading, and a little prepping. I think we can do it. We shall see. Stay tuned in November for an update!
Rules of This No-Spend Month
First up, the rules for a No-Spend Month. We will of course have to spend something at some point. The point is to not spend anything unnecessarily and to be more conscious of our money. On to the rules:
- We are allowed to spend money on things like the mortgage, car payments, utilities (October is the perfect month to save on gas and electric-open those windows!). It is not worth going into collections on those things, plus the late fees and interest would just pile up.
- Groceries. But not like regular shopping each week. I will have the need to pick up some fresh fruits and veggies or dairy products, but I will avoid the inner parts of the store where the pantry items are located. We will shop our own pantry; I will make my own bread if we run out!
- Medicine/Dr. visits. Hopefully we won’t need to spend anything here, but if someone gets sick, we will of course take care of that.
- Big Girl’s Birthday. The presents are already taken care of, but each kid gets to pick their birthday meal and cake. As of now, Adelaide wants Chinese food and an ice cream cake. We have a few leftover gift cards that we will use for whatever she wants for her birthday. I’m sure some of you will think, “but that’s not a true No-Spend Month.” And you would be correct, but my kids didn’t sign up for a No-Spend Month and they have sacrificed enough due to COVID, that we WILL make her birthday a special celebration.
What Does a No-Spend Month Look Like?
So, how will we ever manage to survive a month on just our pantry staples? Easy; meal planning and meal prep. We actually still have some meals in the freezer from our late August meal prep extravaganza! One thing I would say about that is to vary the meals a bit so that you don’t tire of chicken. We have been slowly working our way through those meals, and they are delicious, but we have had to cook in between freezer meals because you can only eat so many chicken meals in a row!
The meal planning has been fun actually! I have been searching Pinterest for budget friendly meals that are also healthy and kid friendly. These meals do exist, people! I grabbed an old spiral notebook and started writing the recipes down.
Handy note: make sure you make a table of contents of sorts so that you know what recipes are in the notebook without flipping through it all.
Once I gathered a bunch of meals I thought my family would like (or that I would like at least!), I grabbed my freezer meal inventory. It’s important to make sure you do this so you don’t forget what is in there. Plus, I wrote out a meal plan for the month of October. Most of the meals that weren’t already in my freezer needed mainly pantry staples to make, so right there I am saving money. There are a few ingredients that I will need to pick up (spinach), but everything else I had on hand or bought, prepped, and froze today. And it’s still September – meal planning win!
Stock That Pantry!
I will admit, we have a fairly well stocked pantry, but that is because I have been spending an extra $5-10 a week or every other week to stock up on staples like beans and canned and frozen veggies. Also, we like beans, so that won’t be hard for us to eat beans. If you need to stock your pantry, then just budget for that, and for the No-Spend Month just buy the pantry items, in the amount you need – no extra stocking up.
Also remember that if you see a sale on things like peppers or onions, you can buy those to prep and freeze. I did that today and chopped, diced, and bagged for specific meals on our meal plan. A 3-pack of green peppers I bought today will save me from having to buy during the month, because I needed 2 of them for one recipe and 1 for another. They would have gone bad if I didn’t prep and freeze them now, and they are going in soups or stews, so frozen peppers won’t make a difference.
The grocery bill goal for the month is to stay under $200 (including anything we need to buy for the birthday celebration). This should be easily attainable seeing as the grocery bill total for September was $288.83. I’m hopeful we can actually stay under $100 for the month, but I also will not sacrifice fresh greens for salad and fruits for the kids to snack on.
A No-Spend Month Is Not Absolute
You may have also noticed that I didn’t say anything about consumable items like toilet paper, paper towels, cleaners. That’s because we have enough of those things on hand, or can substitute them for another item. We use Amazon Subscribe & Save for the toilet paper, but I will skip the month of October because we have enough and I can save money. If we run out of paper towels, then we will use cloth dishtowels (I do this most of the time anyway). And if we run out of cleaners, I have things like baking soda and vinegar to clean with.
I think that about covers the No-Spend Month. Rules – check. Tips – check. Substitutions if needed – check. Have you ever done a No-Spend Month? Share your money saving tips with us. I will try to update everyone on the meal prep and recipes as we go. I will also update you in November to let you know how the No-Spend Month went for us.