Two of my very favourite personal finance gal pals (HisandHerFI and Dumpster Dog) are hosting a no spend challenge, and I’m joining the fun. The goal is to rein in out of control spending, which I desperately need, and get your budget back on track. Instead of eliminating all excess spending, these fine ladies are asking you to choose three areas you won’t spend money on for the month of November. Sounds easy right? I thought so too! More on whether that’s true or not in a minute. Then each week, you share a weekly spend report with your accountability group and on your instastories.
My No Spend Challenge Goals
To help rein in my budget, I chose three categories that are most likely to result in impulse purchases this month.
The first is food, specifically unplanned eating out. This could pretty much be my number one money goal at almost any time. It’s always a struggle. I hate cooking, and I like eating out. The bf and I tend to be good at meal planning and cooking at home, but we still sneak in take-out too often. I’m not limiting myself entirely in this category. We still have a few things in the calendar this month where we will be eating out, and that’s ok. Planned is good, unplanned is not. I also have a scheduled lunch out with my co-workers once a week. That’s also allowed. But no random visits to the delicious sandwich shop next door. Leftover Sarah, leftovers.
The second is not adding to the wardrobe. I might not always think it, but I have enough clothes. I also pulled out a bunch of winter stuff from storage, so those items almost feel new again. No buying clothes or accessories in November. Not even thrifted.
The third and final goal was a hard one to write down. We are currently fostering a puppy for the very first time, and yes, I’m head over heels in love with her. I mean look at those ears!
We have had her for a month, and she will be going up for adoption within the next few days. (Side note: if any local Edmonton friends are looking for a puppy, please, please, please let me know! I’d love her to go to someone I know.) I knew it would be hard to let our fosters go, but I am struggling. The bf is staying strong, as was our deal, but I need to stay strong. Hence putting ‘no adoption fee’ as one of my no spend goals.
Each Sunday, I will be posting what I’ve spent for the past week on Instagram. Since my recurring bills are always the same (and I will list them here), I’m not going to include them. It will just be the extras that come up.
One important thing to note is that while the bf and I have a lot of joint expenses, we don’t have combined finances. We keep our money separate. I pay for more of the recurring bills, he covers groceries, we both do our own savings, and pretty much spend the extras as we wish. To keep things mostly, even we will email money transfer money back and forth as needed.
Is it a perfect system? Nope. Does it work for us? Yes. There’s no right or wrong way to budget as a couple; it’s all about finding the right mix for your situation.
I used to be an all-star budgeter, but it was never something I enjoyed. I think budgeting and tracking spending is an essential exercise to understand your money, but it doesn’t have to be forever. Once it becomes a habit and you’re comfortable with how much you’re spending, you don’t have to track every penny.
Now I work backwards. I have almost everything set-up to run automatically. This includes both bills and savings. I leave enough money in my bank account after payday to cover my recurring bills, then I pay off my credit cards and have automatic deductions set-up to go straight into my RRSP and TFSA accounts. That money is automatically invested, so there is very little for me to do. Then, whatever is left over is what I’m allowed to spend. For more substantial expenses (like travel), I transfer money to a separate savings account.
I’ve tried various forms of budgeting and tracking, and this works the best for me because it’s easy. I do think it’s important to check back in annually, or any time your income or expenses change significantly, and that’s where tracking and the no spend challenge come in handy. By tracking my spending this month, I’ll see where I’m doing well and where I need to make some changes.
My Monthly Expenses
Here is the breakdown for all the money that leaves our bank accounts every month. Most of these are joint expenses that I share with the bf, but the savings amounts are mine only.
Ok November, let’s do this thing!
Have you ever done a no spend challenge? I’d love to hear how it went and any tips you may have!
This post was proofread by Grammarly.