I started following NWEdible’s blog a month or so ago when she wrote a hilarious post titled “The Tragedy of the Healthy Eater.” I think she has a great point of view and I have found some great information on her blog. Her latest post talked about “No Spend October.” After reading the post and forwarding it to my boyfriend we decided to follow suit.
We started last night by identifying all of our individual monthly expenditures to get a better idea of how much “extra” money we should have each month after all of our monthly bills are paid (mortgage, electric, cable, phone, dog sitter/daycare, etc).
Next we estimated the bare minimum we could spend on gas. Lucky for us we both work at the same place and can plan on carpooling to work every day; however that is at least 20 miles per day and we both drive less fuel efficient (but fast!) Subarus. We also drive 1/2 way home over lunch 2 days a week to let the dogs out resulting in an extra 10 miles two days a week. Total we estimated that we would drive a minimum of 480mi per month. We budgeted $100 for fuel to challenge us.
Finally came the tough part for us. We both love food and both highly value the quality of food that we are eating (unprocessed, fresh and delicious!). To really challenge our budget we decided to aim for spending $30 a week on groceries. We do have a freezer full of pork, beef, chicken and turkey. Also we have a couple of quarts of frozen tomato sauce and corn chowder we can tap into. Although it is really hard for me to resist those farmers market apples and kale and tomatoes and basil and arugula and fennel and this is going to be hard.
So we woke up this morning determined to stick to our budget. That lasted until about 7:10am when I had to rush my dog Desi to the vet because he swallowed half of his “breakfast sausage” whole. An afternoon and vet bill later I’m really feeling like we need to stick to this budget now.
This little vet adventure helped me realize how easily I do spend money. The vet hospital (CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital) served local bagels and coffee that I didn’t even think twice about purchasing while I was waiting. That extra $8 bagel and coffee cut significantly into my food budget this week and were not nearly as good as those farmers market apples. I realize now how much more cognizant I need to be before taking out my credit cards for the rest of month. Actually maybe what I need to do is switch to cash.
We also realized that we completely forgot about dog food in our budget. We make the dog food at home using a common recipe, Spot’s Stew. This no spend month will force us to finally calculate the cost of the food and be able to compare it to some of the better dog foods on the market. Also we will probably continue to remember a few things that we didn’t budget for and don’t even think about spending money on.
So day 1 has been less than successful, but good lessons learned for the month. Hopefully we will both improve during the month and carry some of the lessons forward.
I’d say if you learned that much in one day it’s been VERY successful. 🙂 My first No Spend was a wake-up call about the little things too and that’s really a huge point of this whole exercise. Love your bagel v. apples comparison. Good luck and I’m glad to have you joining in. I think you’ll like some of the challenges coming up this month. You might also check out my friend’s site at http://www.dogsordollars.com – she’s doing a No Spend challenge this month too and is crazy CRAZY with the canine spending. You might find some stuff to like on her site too. Thanks!
Thanks for the words of encouragement and the dog reference. I will definitely check that out.
Sounds like a great idea. Good luck to you both! I have found http://www.getrichslowly.org/ helpful for money matters like this.
Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll have to check that website out.
What a great experiment! We’ve been learning to live within a budget too, and it’s amazing how we spend money without even thinking about it.