You can catch up on the how and why here but just in case you’re walking into this post wondering where this is coming from …
What exactly is a no-spend month?
To be overly simple, it’s a month with no extra spending. Keeping the lights on and food in our bellies isn’t part of the “No-November” for us. If we have a bill, we pay it. If we need groceries, we pick them up. If there was a pre-planned event, we attend. It’s not saying no to having fun or being social, it’s just taking a month to recalibrate and evaluate where the funds are going by stopping the flow of all the extra’s.
No coffee’s from Starbucks, no lunch dates or dinners out, no last minute “I’m bored” spending on the weekends. Just, not this month.
And it’s officially over! The last 11 days were more difficult than the first 19. We had a school break in there, a holiday, a snow day. A lot of down time, is what I’m getting at, and while we stuck to our no-spend month … it’s true you can’t buy happiness, but you can delay sadness.
I had guessed we’d be “over” in our grocery budget but we ended the month within $100 of our usual burn rate at the grocery store – and without any eating out, this felt like a feat. But clearly a doable one.
We borrowed puzzles, drank a lot of hot chocolate at home, had friends over, hung out with family, went for walks, and the kids played with the chickens, it was all very lovely in hindsight.
We went a little stir crazy (Aaron and I more than the kids) BUT it was honestly eye-opening to do this and I’m so glad we tried it, for a few reasons:
We spent less than half what we normally would.
Which definitely made the month of no spending worth it, in my book. I’m the numbers person in our family, so it is very interesting to me to see what we went without and how that affects the bottom line. We can get comfortable and stop practicing discernment or patience in our spending, especially this time of year.
We appreciated what we already have.
Games, subscriptions, the library, relationships, natural resources. We definitely made the most of what we had, even though there were days we were tired of being creative or trying to think a different way.
This was more of a mindset change, and one we struggled with as a whole family, than anything else. Which is the true nugget of this month, I think.
One evening my daughter led a workshop for our family on how to make ornaments out of paper. We already had the paper and the string, even though she wanted to go get additional items like stickers or prettier paper or glitter, we all had to think outside the box at different times to just use what we had. And now our house is colorful, and it means something to all of us.
I actually made money.
We had a few things lying around that didn’t work for us any more, either furniture we no longer had a use for or nice items the kids grew out of – and I sold them. I also took a temporary job for part of November and booked multiple photoshoots this month. Which is not something I had planned on or even thought of as a bonus to a month without spending.
What wasn’t included.
You get to make up your own rules and no one is keeping score 😉
For our family – this is what we spent money on this month:
My medications and all the B.S. that goes with being diabetic
Groceries (food and drinks, people. We didn’t eat ramen all month)
Our monthly bills (gas, electric, mortgage, investments, water, trash)
Gas for our cars
And we did use a gift certificate for free pizza one evening
We also had already purchased tickets before November for a few events and even a girls getaway weekend for me and we happily attended.
Now, for the nitty-gritty:
We spent $71.15 that technically we weren’t supposed to which included Aaron’s coffee on the weekends (read more about that here), my oopsie lunch at the beginning of the month, and 2 “breaks” on different weekends for coffee out as a family.
All in all, a good reminder of how much we already have & how little we really need, but most of all, what matters most.
And I would totally do it again! Maybe once a year, but not during the summer 😉