Friday, December 16, 2011

Budget Bloated? Go on a Spending Diet!

After all of the spending and consumerism of the holidays, we need to cut back.  Advertisers and retailers spend a lot of money to make us believe that more is better, and that if we buy that special item, it will make our lives easier and our family happier.  Yes, sometimes things do make our lives easier.  My smartphone, in my opinion, makes my life easier.  But now is the perfect time of the year to remind ourselves what we already have and what really makes us happy.

Inspired by Rachel and her family over at Small Notebook, we are naming January "No Spend Month".  I suppose calling it a "No Spend Month" is a bit of a exaggeration, because we will be spending.  Just a lot less of it.  Let's call it a SPENDING DIET.  That sounds much less scary.

The Rules of our "Diet"...

Our family of 3 will have $450 to spend on fuel, groceries, and anything else we may buy for ourselves for the entire month. (Wow, that seems so low now that I've typed it.)  This includes clothes, shoes, household items, entertainment, gifts, and eating out.  I can tell you already that I don't think we will be buying much more than groceries or gas with that money.

Recurring monthly bills are excluded from this limit, including our mortgage, insurance, and utilities.  Doctor appointments, prescriptions, savings, and retirement plans are also exempt.


We will have some factors working against us.  Namely, our transportation costs.  Neither public transit nor biking to work is a viable option in our area.  And our current grocery budget of $400 seems to be pretty tight as it is, so cutting it down further will definitely be difficult. We will have to get creative and utilize our pantry, probably eliminate our soda habit, and really think about the cost of ingredients.  I will also have to utilize any remainder of my December budget to try and stock up a little bit on staples.

My Plan...

  • We will be leaving the debit/credit cards at home and doing a cash-only system.  That way we can see every dollar leaving our hands and we won't be able to cheat.  
  • I will create a weekly budget and keep the cash for each week in marked envelopes, so we haven't spent everything before the end of the month.  
  • Use of coupons is allowed to help stretch the budget.
  • We will not be eating out.  That would not be a good use of our limited budget.

What I Hope to Gain...

I hope we will learn to appreciate what we have and no longer take certain things for granted, like our ability to buy groceries and fill our tanks with gas.  I also think it will teach us to be more mindful about our spending and consumption going forward.  And the extra money saved would be a great bonus, a jump start to our 2012 savings goals.

Your Turn...

I invite you to join me and we can do it together!   You can adapt it however you want.  Just be realistic while still challenging yourself.

Have you ever gone on a spending diet or had a No Spend Month?  What was the outcome? What was your biggest challenge?

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