Last November my friend and I, who both struggle sticking to a budget and don’t make enough money to support that habit, did a “no spend” challenge.
The rules were simple. Pay the bills you need to pay, but otherwise, spend no money. Though it wasn’t a competition, I won. She caved and bought drinks when her parents visited and then bought not-to-be-missed concert tickets. But I succeeded.
I bought my groceries for the month at the end of October, filled up my car with gas and didn’t shop again until Nov. 1.
It was tough, especially when the fresh veggies ran out and I was eating frozen peas, but I did it and my line of credit and savings account thanked me.
This year, because our jobs have been reduced to part-time due to the pandemic, we are tightening the purse strings even more and doing a “frugal fall.”
Instead of “no-spend” we are limiting spending to $50 a week, that includes gas, groceries and fun things. Bills such as rent and hydro are not included.
We started Sept. 1, so the week restarts on Tuesdays. We get $50 cash and once it’s done, it’s done.
If you don’t spend everything one week, the balance rolls over to the next week. The end day is Nov. 30.
For some $50 may seem like a lot, but for me it is difficult. Having lunch at a restaurant can easily be $25, it costs around $40 to fill my gas tank and I have had $150 grocery bills (I don’t have to shop again for two weeks, but still). It costs at least $10 to go to the movie theatre.
A craft beer, including a tip will cost me at least $8.
But, since I am thinking about all of that, it means the plan is already working.
One of the side benefits of these challenges is that it gets me thinking about what I spend my money on and how I can better manage that.
Managing money stresses me out. But I don’t have enough of it to spend irresponsibly and it is about time I figured that out.
So, you will find me price checking my groceries, meal planning and baking my own brownies this fall. Hopefully these new practices stick long- term.
Feel free to join me in my frugal fall challenge! I would love to hear tips and I am always looking for new recipes. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.