No Spend January

NO SPEND JANUARY

I’ve been noticing a bunch of posts on Pinterest lately about people going through a whole month of spending only what is absolutely necessary.  Since I am a bit of a shopaholic I thought that it sounded like a terrible idea. But the more I thought about it the more sense it made.  I’ve decided to give it a try so here it is.  My first ever No Spend January!

Before starting No Spend January I wanted to do a bit of research on how to go about it.  Naturally I turned to Pinterest where there is a plethora of posts on how to make it through a month without making any unnecessary purchases.  I think January will be a perfect month to cut back on my spending after the excesses of December.  (You know what I mean, right?)

HERE’S THE PLAN

1.  Set a budget for the month and stick to it.    (This is something that I have had difficulty with in the past)                     2. Work on a cash system (no debit purchases and ABSOLUTELY no credit purchases)                                                             3. Write down every penny spent.  This will help me keep track of my spending.  

Of course I am not including any regular bill payments or my mortgage in the No Spend January challenge.  These are fixed expenses and are non-negotiable.  For the non-fixed expenses I’ve decided to limit myself to the following:

Groceries…$50.00 per week.  I’m single and I don’t usually spend a lot on groceries so this one should be easy to accomplish.  In addition to the No Spend January I am also starting a diet and fresh vegetables are expensive so we’ll see how it goes.  My weakness is takeout food and I’m not looking forward to giving that up for a whole month.  On the other hand, it should help a lot with the diet!

Gasoline…$30 per week.  This is about average spending for me.  Since I won’t be driving around to the shops as often maybe I’ll come in under on this one.  We’ll see.

Dog food…$50.00.  If you’ve read any of my previous posts you will have noticed that I have a Golden Retriever and she eats a lot!  I may have enough dog food to last the month but I’m not sure so I will budget for it just in case.

That’s all I can think of for now but I’ll keep you posted on this No Spend January challenge as the month unfolds.

What about you?  Do you think you could go through a whole month without any unnecessary spending?

UPDATES

WEEK ONE:  

This week I have spent $23.91.  Big Win!  The groceries came to $53.91 but I was able to use some PC Points (points given by my local grocery store if you purchase certain products) to reduce the bill by $30.00.  I have been accumulating PC Points for a while and I thought that now would be the perfect time to cash some in.  No money was spent on gasoline yet as I still have about half a tank of gas left.  One purchase that wasn’t in the budget was some cold medication.  I feel that this was a necessity though since it was cheaper than taking time off work because I’m sick.  All in all I’ll say that week one was a success.   

WEEK TWO:

I had to put some gas in the car this week and the total came to $49.00 so WIN!!  I was able to use PC Points again for my groceries so the total for food came in at $18.23.  I’ve used up all of the points that I can now though so next week will be a different story.  I’m finding that No Spend January is a lot more challenging than I thought it would be.

WEEK THREE:

I have to say that at this point in the No Spend January challenge I was pretty fed up.  Friday came around and I went out for supper with some friends.  I know…I know.  This was not in the budget.  I did feel bad about spending money on something that was not a necessity but not for too long.  So here’s the breakdown for this week.  I was out of PC Points so I had to pay full price for my groceries and the total spent was $50.40.  I had to buy some dog food and it came to $41.77.

WEEK FOUR:

HALLELUJA!!! The last week of this challenge.  This week my groceries came to $63.15.  I know I came in over the budgeted amount for this item but I did accumulate $10.00 worth of PC Points on this purchase so at some point in the future I will recoup $10 on my grocery bill.

I have not spent the total amount that I budgeted for in any category so Yay Me!  The total budget for groceries for the month was $200 and I ended up spending $155.69 for a savings of $44.31.  The budget for gasoline was $120 and I spent $49 for a savings of $71.  The budget for dog food was $50 and I spent $41.77 for a savings of $8.23.  My total savings for No Spend January came to $123.54 which is great!  My real savings, though, came from stuff that I didn’t buy.  Normally I pick up some takeout food at least twice a week and I frequently eat out once a week or more.

I’d say that the average I spend eating out is about $15.00 so by not purchasing restaurant food for a month I’ve saved close to $200.  Staying out of the stores has saved quite a bit as well since I am somewhat of an impulse shopper.  

WHAT I’VE LEARNED DURING NO SPEND JANUARY

No Spend January was certainly a learning experience and I’ll take some of these lessons with me going forward.  The main thing I’ve learned is that I can make a budget and stick to it.  It wasn’t easy by any means but I’ve learned that it is doable.  Something else I’ve learned is that I don’t have to buy everything that I’d like to buy.  That momentary gratification of retail therapy just isn’t as gratifying as seeing your bank balance grow.

I’ve learned to pause for a moment and ask if I really need this item or if I just want it. Thinking about where this item will go in my house and if I might already have something similar that will do the same job helps cut down on unnecessary purchases. I’ve also learned that I really do not enjoy denying myself anything but it can be done.  So, will I do it again?  Ask me next January but for now I think I’m done.  

Finishing Touch

FINISHING TOUCH TO THE BACK YARD DECK

The deck in the back yard has been done for a while but I wasn’t as happy with it as I thought I’d be.  I mean, sure, it’s a great place to hang out and I had spent many a happy hour lounging around on it but when I built the deck I really didn’t put much thought or planning into the design.  Believe me when I tell you that it’s a lot easier to spend a few minutes planning out your deck than it is trying to make the deck look nicely finished after the fact.  While I love that I have a deck to spend those hot summer days on I don’t really love the design.  It’s just a rectangle.  Boooring! So I decided to add a bit a flair to it by putting on some finishing touches.  

This is what the edge of the deck looked like.  Nice enough but I do like to add a bit of personality to my projects.  I decided to surround the edge of the deck with a trim board to make it look a bit neater. The deck was built with 2″ X 8″ wood and I felt like the eight inch step up to the deck was just a bit too much to be comfortable so a new step was also in order.  

deck edge

Cutting the boards on a 45 degree angle made for a nice tight fit and was a great finishing touch on the deck. 

deck trim

The wood I was using was not long enough to span the entire length of the deck so I had to figure out how to join two pieces of wood together to get a nice, tight fit.  I cut each piece on an angle and joined them together.  I think it turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself! 

trim around the deckNow it was time to add the new step.  I removed the grass and put down some landscape fabric to keep the weeds under control.  The last thing you want is to have grass growing up between your stair treads.  I put some crushed stone on top of the landscape fabric to make sure the weeds would not be able to push their way through.  Then I built a rectangular box with three support beams for stability.  You don’t want your steps to feel “springy” so the support beams guaranteed that the step would feel very stable.  

stair for the deckI screwed the box to the deck, making sure that it was level.  Then I added the stair treads.  I would have liked to have used three long pieces of wood to fit the length of the step but I had some leftover wood from the deck build and I couldn’t really justify buying more wood so I made do with what I had on hand.  It turned out okay though.  What do you think of the finishing touch on my back yard deck?

finished deck stair