We don’t call it a No-Spend Challenge for nothing! If it were easy, it wouldn’t be a challenge, right?
At the beginning of February, we set a goal to not spend anything on eating out, household goods, entertainment, trips, or any other unnecessary spending.
In addition, we decided to make our no-spend month a pantry challenge as well. We chose to cut our normal grocery spending down to just $100 for the month.
We were excited to not only save money, but also reset our spending habits to help us reach our financial goals.
We were off to a good start
Then my grandma unexpectedly died. Making the 1,600 mile roundtrip to attend her funeral and be with family was non-negotiable for me.
So we took an unplanned trip.
It would have been easy to give up and just bag the whole plan for the no-spend month. We could have quit and rescheduled our no-spend month for later in the year.
We decided to stick with our plan as best we could and spend as little as possible.
A last minute flight for me to go by myself was nearly $600. Looking at our spending history for 2018, I knew we could easily make the trip with the whole family for less than that. Besides, everyone wanted to go!
What we spent
Without going to the store, I put together food for the trip. I’m sure everyone would have enjoyed some more exciting snacks, but we made do with what we had in the pantry. The highlight was a bag of Christmas M&Ms that I had stashed in the freezer.
$219 on gas— Gas was around $2.85 per gallon in most places. On trips like this, our van gets 21-22 miles per gallon.
$90 on lodging— The soonest we could leave was in the evening, so we drove about 6 hours, then stayed the night in a motel and drove another 8 hours the next day. We arrived with only a couple of hours to spare to stretch, dress, and head over to the viewing.
When we were in Arizona, we stayed at my Grandma’s house (my parents have been staying there helping her out for the past few months). On the way home we didn’t have an overnight stay; we drove 14 hours straight through!
$38 on food— We bought some groceries when we arrived so that we could make some simple meals. There was also a nice luncheon at the church after the funeral. The ladies from my Grandma’s church sent the leftovers home for those of us staying at her house.
On the way home, after eating pretty much all of our car food, we stopped at Taco Bell. We very rarely ever have fast food, and this was a good reminder of why. We spend $20 there for food that wasn’t very filling, didn’t taste very good, and definitely wasn’t good for us.
Our trip expenses were less than $350 for our family of 7. We try to travel with minimal spending, and this was no exception. You can check out my pro tips for frugal car trips for some great money-saving car trip ideas.
Now, $350 for a family road trip isn’t very much, but it’s still more than $0, which is what we planned to spend. It was totally worth it. We would have done it again in a hearbeat.
If you saw my recent Instagram post, you know that we also had some extra spending waiting for us when we got home, but that’s another story.
Flexibility is key
Have you had a change in plans during your no-spend month? Did you spend more than you were hoping?
It doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Life happens. Sometimes there’s no way to avoid spending, even during a no-spend month.
Even if the spending was unnecessary and just happened in a moment of weakness, it’s okay. Forgive yourself and move on.
Don’t let what happened today (or yesterday) be an excuse for you to throw in the towel before tomorrow has even started.
Don’t let one spending “failure” send you into a downward spiral of out-of-control spending.
Look at the progress you have made and own it!. If your no-spend month turned into a no-spend week, celebrate what you were able to save during that week!
A rigid budget is a broken budget. Flexibility is key to success!
How about you?
- How has your no-spend month gone?
- How did you deal with surprises and unplanned spending?