A year ago I laid out and executed my first no-spending challenge. Go here to see the first no-spending challenge results. I liked it so much I thought I’d do it again around the start of the year since the new year is a fabulous time reevaluate spending habits and get a good look at the budget (really any day is a great day to do this don’t you think?:). Well, since the Sarr household is cruising into the lean months, we decided it would be a great time to take another no-spending challenge.
I’ll give you a little background so you know where we are coming from. My husband works as a pastor of our church and as a headmaster of my kids’ classical and Christian school where he gets paid once a month. During the school year I teach music 4 hours a week at their school and get a stipend a year around Christmastime (of which I still have a little bit left). Throughout the school year I also teach piano lessons. Our blog netted us a whopping $20 last year after our expenses, so we haven’t relied on that money for our income. We do use blog income to buy food for recipes I’m going to be making for the blog, but I don’t buy food for the blog too much, so this really won’t count. Since taking a break (try ten years) from full-time public school teaching, we’ve been using my piano lesson money to pay for our groceries in cash. Since most piano students only take lessons during the school year, I don’t have the majority of that income pouring in through the summer months. That leaves the grocery funds drying up in August.
But throughout the school year I squirrel away $20 here, $5 there, and so on into an envelop specifically for groceries in the summer. At the beginning of this summer I had $305. I had to dive into our reserve grocery envelop earlier than normal this summer. So we are now left with $105 to get through the rest of August. I will still have a few piano lessons here and there that we’ll inject that income into our grocery funds, but for all intents and purposes we are gonna try to survive on $105 for the next four weeks.
I should explain a few more things. For August we could use some of Jonathan’s income for the groceries. After paying the bills with his income, the remainder of the money we don’t spend each month goes into savings for the kids’ private school tuition. If we used some of this money, we just wouldn’t be saving for tuition (which we need to do). So if things get desperate, we will not starve. But they won’t get desperate, and we won’t starve. Have you seen my pantry? God is faithful. We just think it’s a great exercise to use discipline and paint ourselves into a monetary corner now and then.
Now onto the challenge. For the next 4 weeks:
- We are going to be “shopping” out of our pantry and freezer for the most part. This is mainly to use the foods we already have. It will cause me to exercise my creative food muscles in most instances. How many different ways can you make dried pinto beans anyone?
- I will buy eggs, milk and fresh produce. I still want to keep my family healthy with the really good stuff, and we don’t have that many fruits and veggies frozen. So I will be spending SOME money.
- As much as we can, we’ll use garden fresh produce. We have tomatoes and cucumbers coming on. Do I see cucumber tomato salads in my future…?
- We’ll be going on a few overnighters and will have to spend money on food eating out then, but other than that, we won’t eat out. We don’t eat out much anyway. You can read here and here how we save money when we do eat out, though.
- I’ll be writing down how much I spend and where.
- Even though this is mostly for our grocery budget, we won’t be spending much money elsewhere except for our normal bills. The kids have uniforms for school and already have them, so we don’t have to do any school shopping except for some school supplies.
- If I need something special for a potluck or our yearly neighborhood cook-off, I’ll allow myself to buy it.
- When I run out of pantry items, they won’t be replenished until the challenge is over. I’ll just keep an ongoing list.
What I won’t do:
- Stock up on items I would normally get. If you know me, you know this kills me. If we finish one thing, I try to have the back up ready when I OPEN the previous product meaning I never run out of stuff. For instance I just opened a new coconut oil last week and then promptly bought a new one to replenish it on my next Costco trip. That way I don’t run out. This is a way to save money and not buy something that is more expensive because of convenience, let’s say I have to rush to another closer store to get coconut oil and pay more for it. That just doesn’t happen.
Anyone interested in joining the 4 Week No-Spending Challenge this month?