What is No Spend Month?

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Are you here after watching the news? Welcome! Glad you’re here.

No Spend Month is our family’s annual challenge to cut our spending down to the basic essentials. After paying our bills, we allow ourselves $250 for anything personal, which includes food, clothing, gas, coffee, and anything else our family wants during the month.

The reason we tried it in the first place was because I noticed I was gradually spending more time thinking about things that would be nice to have. There was always one more thing — and I didn’t want to be like that. I thought if I stopped spending for 31 days, then I could break that habit of trying to look for things that would “improve” our life.

I’ll be honest, a No Spend Month is really effective. I usually think a dollar won’t buy very much. It hardly covers a Dr Pepper at a restaurant or a trip down the tollway. But when you have to make every dollar count because you only have $40 for the week, then you learn how to be creative, and that new perspective stays with you.

Are you interested in trying it? Start by reading this:

No Spend Month — What’s it About?

We’ll have our 3rd Annual No Spend Month in July, and you’re welcome to join in with us. If July doesn’t work for you or you want to make the challenge different, that’s no problem! It’s not about the month or the budget; the goal is to be mindful about spending.

You might also want to check out:

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I actually didn’t see the interview on TV, but CBS had a video of it online so I got to watch it after all. Watching yourself on TV? Yikes. But I should get used to it, because tonight (Wednesday) I’ll be on channel 21 and this time it’s live! (I think it will be at 7:30 p.m.)

bicycleP.S. We don’t have bikes, and at 25 weeks pregnant I don’t think Doug is going to let me ride on one. Too bad. It would have been fun. But not down the highway.

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.

Comments

  1. Wow, you look even more organized and together on camera than you do through internet land. Thanks for linking to that and for reminding me about no spend month. Perhaps I will have to do another one this year.

  2. Such a great idea. In this economy, what a smart thing to teach us–how to get by with less. I am willing to give this a try. It is all about thoughtful spending over mindless spending. I am so guilty of the latter. Thanks for sharing your experiences and the links! I’ll let you know if I survive!!

  3. so funny that the lead in to your story is about the Seattle Sounders. I’ll have to watch this later as our sound is out on the computer but how darn exciting. You know, you always motivate me.

  4. What a great video, Rachel. If I thought you had it all together online, I really think you have it all together on camera. What a blessing you are to all of us with your ideas and encouragement. Thank you!

  5. Denise C. says:

    Great interview! I had no idea you were in North Dallas, I lived in Dallas for 5 years! I still miss Texas!
    I have yet to have my NO SPEND MONTH, right now, I am taking baby steps and am trying to have NO SPEND DAYS!!! :)

  6. Lindsay says:

    I am not anywhere near Dallas, so I haven’t seen a thing, but congrats on the news spot!

  7. I found you through my friend Crystal at http://www.moneysavingmom.com, I am going to do a no spend Summer starting memorial day weekend throught September’s Labor day. Great post!

    Elizabeth Sue´s last blog post..Kitchen Tip Tuesday

  8. Such an awesome idea. I need to take this challenge. What an eye opener!

    Chele´s last blog post..Weekly Menu

  9. I think I will start with trying a week! Baby steps! It is just hard getting the family on board, since I have a big family it always seems like there is something that we “need” but if you really think about it we probably don’t need it, (try to convince a 2,5,7 or 12 year old that!) I am trying to get them on board with what a need and what a want is, and really how we should be grateful for what we have, it could be a lot worse. There are so many things that influence them at school, and all around them that says “look what I got and you don’t” it is really hard for a child to understand that they are just things and in a year or two they will not even be thought of or be in a landfill somewhere.

    • Denise C. says:

      In response to rdzins comment, I am 31 and am STILL trying to get a grip on NEEDS vs. WANTS. I am a SAHM, and DO NOT WANT to teach my kids, that what they see they can just have. Before I can teach them I need to learn this myself! Great comment! :)

  10. Slackerjo says:

    With a new baby coming, exactly how is No Spend Month going to work this year?

    • Since it’s our second baby, we still have all of our baby gear from the first. A friend passed along some baby boy clothes. I think we have most of what we need.

  11. I had been planning to do this sometime while I was on maternity leave. (I think our due dates are even closer than I originally thought!) We are always frugal, but I love a short term challenge like this, it’s a great way to retool my thinking. I just found out yesterday that I won’t have a job to come back to, so we will definitely need to be much more mindful of our spending…

    Steph @ Problem Solvin Mom´s last blog post..My favorite beach bums

    • Oh my, Stephanie, I’m glad you have this much advance notice! That’s really fortunate in a hard situation.

  12. Hot ticket! Lane is SO cute. I’m proud and happy for you!
    As to the no spend month (which is a great idea for the anti-consumerism unitiated), here’s my question:
    Isn’t stocking the fridge/panty beforehand in order to spend less on food during the no spend cycle cheating? Seems to me, food is the most basic and unassailable need out there and putting it up as discretionary spending is a little odd.

    Best,

    Juliet

    Juliet´s last blog post..My next car!!!

    • We try not to stock up on food ahead of time. Although this apartment’s kitchen has a pantry cabinet, it’s not very big. Most of the budget for the month goes to food, and we don’t want to end the month with a bare cupboard and have to spend a lot on August 1st.

      Food isn’t discretionary, but a lot of snacks are, so that’s why I include it. It makes me think carefully about the groceries I buy. Do I get a pound of bananas for 60 cents, or a pound of chips for $4? See what I mean?

      • I do. I guess I’m just staggered to think that you can eat for $250 a month unless you are drawing down on some inventories. I could cut a big hunk from my “food” budget by not buying alcohol : ( but even with that, and with cooking almost everything we eat from scratch, I’d still be spending $500+ just on eats. I guess what I am getting at (sloooowly)is that we can/should learn to live without a lot of stuff but not good healthy food. I just came off a 3 month no spend adventure and the only way I got through it was by giving myself to permission to buy and enjoy great local, fresh food. Made it quite enjoyable actually!

        Juliet´s last blog post..My next car!!!

        • I love eating fresh local stuff, this is Doug….we actualy grow some of our spices! But we certainly don’t stop eating healthy, we just have to make the high ticket items last longer. Which means ground beef goes into a pot of chili, and we cook and eat the whole chicken, not just the chicken breast, and bannas, beans and breads go pretty far ( breads are complicated for us)…but No Spend Month is not about going with out, it’s about recognizing all the things in our lives that are just for comsumption and waste, money is just the gateway to understanding those things…..wow, I had no idea how much I was spending just for fun and comfort, and then I found out how easy I could replace those things with free things.

          As a note on stocking up, Lane and I have some special diet needs, and we will be “stocking” some certain vitamins and probiotics that keep us going……we consider those things to be health expenses such as a prescription….

          Gotta have good food! That’s a good way to do it….go local and fresh! and that sounds like a great “no spend” time.

  13. Loved the video!! I love the no spend month. We tried it last January with our own modifications to make it work for our family. I will do it again! Thanks for your blog and congrats on your interviews!

    Renee´s last blog post.."Anticipation"

  14. You were wonderful in the video! So neat to see you in “person”! :) And gosh, was that filmed recently? Because you are soooo much smaller than I am (or was at 25 weeks)!

    We did our own version of the no-spend month back about a year and a half ago, and I blogged about it. It was so awesome to be forced to really evaluate each and every dollar we spent, and it also helped us to reach our goal of paying off our car in full by the end of that month, which was the absolute last of our debts. Since then, we’ve been able to save, save, save, which is just such a good feeling!

    Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home´s last blog post..Pregnancy Update: 28 weeks

  15. Rosemary Wade says:

    Rachel,
    I just saw your clip – GREAT! Your Mom is my friend
    and she told me about your no/spending idea.
    You are very creative and blessed. Keep up your
    good work – your idea is worth attention.
    Blessing,
    Rosemary Wade

  16. Congratulations on your television publicity! What a great video . . . I love this blog, glad to see the word is getting out about it!

  17. Loved your video and this idea… specifically, this idea that “I was gradually spending more time thinking about things that would be nice to have. There was always one more thing” – I totally feel the same way and I think this is a great idea to help address that nagging.

    Also, did I spy a library card file in the background of your house in the video? I have one too! I use mine in my bedroom though for socks and under-things on one side, and office supplies on the other.

    Rebecca´s last blog post..House-Cleaning Kit Checklist

  18. I am so, so, SO proud of you, mama! you look every bit as darling in real life as I always imagined. thanks so MUCH for posting the link.

    We may just try this crazy idea in July. We’ll see. You are inspiring. :)

    Megan @ Simple Kids´s last blog post..The “Unsung” Favorites of Children’s Literature

  19. I am so in on the July no spend! Yeah! I love the idea! I see that library cabinet I covet in your interview!! So great to “see” you – I came to your site from Simple Mom and I’m loving it!!

    Peggy´s last blog post..My laundry room office combo before……..

  20. I’m looking forward to your no spend month again! Wonderful that you’ve been on the news!

    Andrea @ The Train To Crazy´s last blog post..What would you do?

  21. Your television piece turned out so well! I hope that the story does inspire others to consider how much of our lives (unfortunately) are connected to spending. We did a no spend month last October and though it was hard to go through, it really did open our eyes to how much we spent on the “little things.” It also gave us more strength to say no to spending in other situations once the month was over.

    We probably won’t be able to join you in July, because we’re going on vacation and hopefully making a few small home improvements to our apartment that will cost some money, but I’m thinking that we might do it again in October, as I will only be at home with our new baby and toddler, and will not really even be able to get out to the stores.

    Is that your new apartment, by the way? It looks great!

    Life from the Roof´s last blog post..Favorite Frugal Recipes: Thai Chicken Noodle Salad

  22. I’m so proud of you, Rachel! You looked so nice and totally together on the piece. Been reading your blog for almost a year now, and I’m so happy at how far you’ve come!

    Great job, and congratulations on the baby!

  23. repo2riches says:

    Great interview and thank you for the link! My husband and I have been talking about doing a No Spend Month in July also, thanks to you!!! I’m a little nervous but I love the idea….

  24. Great TV spot! It is so nice to be reminded by you to live simply, frugally but, richly in your experiences. I honestly feel like every month is a no spend month in our home. We are a family of 4 trying to live on $50 for the week more often then I’d like to admit.

    Kristen´s last blog post..rainy day fund

  25. I tried for a weekend to get my family to have a No Spend Weekend and you would of thought I was pulling out teeth! lol!. A whole month? I may definitely try this cuz we are $80K in debt (yes you didn’t hear wrong) and I am sick of it!

  26. We are doing a “clean out the pantry” month which is similar but limited to food. I think it would be interesting to give it a try with everything though.

  27. This sounds like a fantastic idea. A whole month sounds hard but if we do not succeed we can try and try again!

    Laura´s last blog post..Dr. Wayne Dyer- The Story Of Teddy

  28. I think this sounds wonderful! My question would be what do you think is resonable amount for a family of 5? We have a teenage boy who eats like crazy (almost 17) and a 10 year old boy who thinks he ought to eat like that, lol. And we have a 7 year old girl. Also, my husband drives to work each day at 30 minutes both ways. No other options on that one but at least he has a small car that isn’t too hard on gas. I am thinking about doing it through the summer, since there is a week in each month of June and July that half of us will be at camp. Those two weeks ought to be easier to not spend, I would think. We need to get out of debt so I am thinking this will help boost that. I also thought that the months that would not be good for it would be the months with their birthdays and December. But would want to limit spending to resonable amounts. I am pretty good at coming up with fun birthday partys on a budget. Thanks for your imput!

    Terri´s last blog post..Homeschool Post

    • I would suggest taking your regular food budget plus commuting expenses for work, and see if that amount can cover everything. If you have a big pantry of food already, then you can subtract some from the total. Try that as a starting point. If you’re doing the whole summer, you can always adjust it midsummer if you need to, so you can keep going.

  29. You’re becoming quite the celebrity! Way to go.

    I swear I’m going to try this no spend thing sometime. I think it’s harder to impose such limitations on teenagers. They’d see it as punishment if they had to go without their diet coke. Not sure they could find the perspective of a challenge just yet. Oh, some things were so much easier when they were toddlers.

    Nancy´s last blog post..Kitchen Help

  30. Congrats on the interview, Rachel!

    Jessica´s last blog post..Strawberry Agua Fresca

  31. Rachel,
    I remember being attracted to your blog when you initially wrote about the No Spend Month! Thanks for the update…you are absolutely adorable in this news piece!

    What made you decide to do it in July (as opposed to other months)? And did you stock up on food ahead of time? July is difficult for us, but I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this idea. We want to save for a special vacation, and I thought choosing two No Spend months out of the year would allow us to bank enough for a nice vacation.

    I look forward to hearing all about your no spend month again!

    Sharon

    Sharon´s last blog post..We spent $39,000.00 this weekend!

  32. I watched the video online. It was great! You did an awesome job Rachel. I love it when the media chooses to instill hope rather than focus on the negative. :)

    Nicki at Domestic Cents´s last blog post..Fun And Frugal Birthday Games

  33. My husband and I have been faithfully paying off debt and looking for ways to expedite the situation. We have talked about your family’s No Spend Month idea in July. We are joining you! And we’re excited to try it! Thanks for the encouragement, and the motivation to “keep on keepin’ on!”

    Kathryn´s last blog post..What’s going on?

  34. Congrats on getting more publicity for both your blog and for frugality! You did great on camera, too.

    Rachel´s last blog post..DIY Deodorant. Yes, you read that right.

  35. Congratulations on your CBS news spot, Rachel! I’m behind on my blog reading and had no idea you were being featured. I started reading your blog before I knew we were in a recession, and your message of frugality is especially timely given the economic hardship so many families are facing. I hope you’re given even more opportunity to take the message to an even wider audience!

  36. I tried a No Spend Month but that was with no extra cash! It was really hard. Of course it was around Christmas too and that didn’t work so well. It did open my eyes, though!

    Mrs. Money´s last blog post..The Sorrows of Decluttering