November has come and gone. During the month, my family did a no spend challenge. Now that it is over, it’s time to do a no spend November recap. Though we have done no spend months in the past, this was the first one we did since starting the blog. In fact, it was the first one we had done in close to a year, so it was overdue. After setting some rules, it was time to get to it.
I have to say that doing this no spend month was just what we needed. I know a lot of people find the idea of a no-spend month intimidating. To be perfectly honest, the first time we did one, I thought we were crazy. After all, how does one go a month without spending any money? Well, obviously you can’t. Bills still need to be paid, your vehicle will still need gas and you need to eat. Ignoring those things, it’s all about cutting unnecessary spending. So, let’s see how well we did.
Let’s start with those exceptions that we made. We were working on painting a good chunk of our house and buying supplies for this project was the one major exception we allowed ourselves. The area we were painting was quite large, and that task in itself took nearly a week to finish, between moving everything out, painting and then moving it all back. Had I planned things out a bit better, I would have bought the paint and supplies before the month started. However, as I mentioned in our initial post, I found myself suddenly hating the color we had picked out initially, so it’s a good thing we waited. The good news is, I found a color that we all fell in love with and the results are perfect.
Now, there are a few extras here that weren’t originally planned. The curtain and rod, trim and stain, wallplates, a couple of replacement outlets and new doorknobs were not something we have planned on. However, the blinds that had previously been on the window were a safety hazard, as they were not very secure on one end and it was near impossible to reach that spot. We went a good week after painting without anything on the window, but it was one of those things that kept bothering us. A section of the wall had been missing trim for two years and it was the perfect opportunity to fix that. The doorknobs and wall plates were necessary because the old ones were in bad shape, some of them were broken. And as for the outlets, well, two of them might have accidentally been painted over during the process, thus they needed replacing. So after a short discussion, we decided that these costs were acceptable to add to the project as a whole. Therefore, our painting project became a home improvement project.
How much did it cost?
- Paint & supplies – $191.41
- Curtains – $39.78
- Curtain rod – $31.49
- Trim and stain – $54.28
- Wallplates and outlets – $39.91
- Doorknobs – $67.72
The total cost of this project came to $424.59, which all things considered is pretty good. Yes, it was much more than we planned to spend initially, but doing it all at once made sense. Things like the trim would have been extra annoying to do later on, as it would have involved moving several bookshelves yet again to put the trim up and then moving them all back again. The painting alone would have cost us several hundred dollars had we hired a professional painter. Therefore, what we saved by doing it ourselves allowed us to get those unplanned extras to truly complete the project.
Groceries & pantry challenge
Part of our no-spend month was to focus on eating out of our freezer and pantry, not so much that it emptied completely, but that we had a reduced grocery bill. Groceries, after all, one of the items that are allowed in a no-spend month. Our weekly grocery budget is $100. It’s can be a real struggle to stay under that amount with our store thanks to overpriced goods, but we try our best. Focusing on eating from what we had first was sure to cut that down but by how much?
- Week 1 groceries – $28.37
- Week 1 groceries – $117.83
- Week 1 groceries – $42.04
- Week 1 groceries – $74.61
As you can see, outside of that one week, we stayed well below budget. Our total monthly grocery cost was $262.85. This was such a great feeling to know how little we spent for the month on groceries. Had we not been doing our pantry challenge, I feel like we may have very well been over budget every week because of the sheer cost of most items.
How were we able to keep it so low? Well, to be honest, we bought very little meat and produce throughout the month. That may sound terrible, but we have a freezer full of meat, so there wasn’t much need for more. As for the produce, it’s so overpriced we just walked past most of it. We do have canned fruit, as well as canned and frozen vegetables, so it’s not as though we were going without.
The oops moment
We had been doing so well, even with the addition of the curtains for our painting project. But then the dreaded black Friday deals reared their ugly head. At first, I resisted. I browsed online more out of curiosity than actual shopping. Then I saw it, something I had been wanting to buy for a long time and the deal was too good to pass up. I was so torn though. Knowing we were on a no spend month kept me from immediately making the purchase. However, my husband also saw the deal and pointed it out to me. That’s when I knew it was going to happen. So what did I buy? Silicone baking mats.
These were something I had been wanting to switch to for a while now. I do a lot of baking and currently, I use parchment paper whenever I bake. A roll of parchment paper costs about $7 and can last a few months. But in the end, it’s money being thrown away. I do try to use the parchment paper a couple of times before tossing it, but that’s not always an option. That was why I wanted the baking mats. They normally run about $10 each plus tax. However, the sale has them listed for $2.09 each. This meant that I could essentially buy 5 for the price of one.
On top of this, I saw candy, the kind we always put in our Christmas stocking, on for a good deal. After talking it over with my husband, we decided it was worth it. So it was off to Canadian Tire. The initial total was $67.65. At this point, I was thinking I had to put some things back until the cashier asked if I wanted to cash in my Canadian Tire points. Turns out, I had $60 worth of points saved up. So, in the end, I only spent $7.65 for everything. Then at the end of the receipt, I got to see my total savings from the sales – which came to $54!
This no spend challenge was great. We had a couple of small bumps in the road but overall it was a huge success. We saved money on groceries and spent only a little outside of what was allowed. We will absolutely be doing more no spend months in the future, and I honestly hope to make them a regular occurrence in our household. I feel like we could easily do this every 3-4 months, as long as we make sure to plan ahead.
Have you ever done a no-spend month? Do you plan to do one in the future? Let me know!