Budgets

No-Spend September: Budget Challenge

No-Spend Wallet
This is a late post, which might be partially due to the fact that I failed September’s No-Spend Budget Challenge.  I was going to make myself spend nothing but planned expenses: mortgage, groceries, bills, and such.  Out of 30 days in September, I spend nothing on 16 days.  A 53% success rate is an F in pretty much any grading system.
 

What I spent money on:

Week 1:

  1. Parking – we were flying home from a wedding; Airport food
  2. Paying my sister for my part of my mom’s birthday mani/pedi
  3. Natural Calm – the magnesium stuff I take before bed; Dinner before a show I had tickets to
  4. A business-planning seminar; a collar and harness for the cat we were involuntarily fostering; vet bill for said cat’s ringworm checkup; snacks at 7-11
  5. Two lyfts, Starbucks, McDonald’s – I was driving up to NJ late at night and it was the only open option – and gas
 

Week 2

  1. Food from a stop-and-shop type place.  This might be able to go into the grocery category.   But if I know myself at all, it was more snacks and emergency food type stuff, not pre-planned food to prepare later.
  2. Coffee – I don’t even remember why I bought coffee on a Wednesday, from a place in my neighborhood.
  3. Contacts
  4. Two lyfts; a movie on prime. Note: this might have been my husband ordering NFL Sunday Ticket so I’m not going to count that for sure against me)
  5. THREE lyfts, Dunkin Donuts coffee, a hairclip and personal items from Target

Week 3

  1. Breakfast; a lyft
  2. A vet bill for my dog; a lyft
  3. A lyft; lunch; drinks and dinner for book club; a drink at a bar that I had to stop to go to the bathroom in.  True story: I am so scared of getting yelled at, I almost always buy something when I use the facilities somewhere
  4. Lunch with a friend; a lyft
 

Week 4

  1. A drink before a Junior League meeting; a lyft 
  2. Drinks and food at quizzo with friends; a lyft
  3. Flowers for my cousin whose dog died
  4. Instacart – would count in groceries except for the delivery charge; a lyft
 *This is actually 17 days worth of spending, which doesn’t make sense to earlier counted 16 no-spend daysI probably counted some things like that stop and shop, the contacts, and the Instacart as planned expenses.  Either way, I did very poorly.
 

Why didn’t No-Spend September work for me?

 
First of all, this was a terrible month to try this.  We were away four out of five weekends in September.  This led to spending at the destination since it’s harder to pack for every circumstance.  Travelling also gave me less prep time for the rest of the week, which led to increased spending on restaurants and such.
 
There are some bigger takeaways though:
 
  1. Be prepared.  I bought dinner out twice, and breakfast out once, not counting social meals.  I was good about packing my lunch these days. But I didn’t think far enough ahead for those times that I would go straight from work to somewhere with food.  I should have packed a dinner for those situations.  Planning ahead with groceries would have prevented me from buying breakfast.
  2. Give yourself some more margin.  Clearly, I overbooked myself all month, based on how many lyft rides I took.  In other cities, it’s understandable but most of the days that I ordered a lyft based on this calendar, I was at home.  I usually only take lyfts when I’m late somewhere, so that tells you about my schedule in September.  *Aaron Burr voice* Plan less, walk more.
  3. Don’t beat yourself up.  Social time is important.  The activities I planned during the month, lunch and quizzo, were fairly low-cost activities that I could do with little planning (see #1). Sometimes you just gotta spend some money.  It’s ok to live your life.
 
Have you ever tried a no-spend day, week, or month? Tell me how it went in the comments! 

See my other monthly budget challenges here: January February March April May June July August 

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