In the first two weeks of No Spend Month, we spent as little as possible so we can have more money at the end for food and anything unexpected. I spent $40 this past week: $18 on gas and $22 on groceries. The groceries were mainly fresh produce, eggs, and dairy.
With 14 days down and 17 days left to go, we’ve spent $40 of our $250 budget.
Starting the third week of No Spend Month, our favorite snacks were finished a long time ago. Doug says, “We don’t have any potato chips.” and I answer, “We can’t afford them, but here’s a potato so we can make skillet fries.” He nods his head in agreement.
Here are the questions I hear the most:
How do you only spend $250 during the month? Is the food really cheap in Dallas, Texas? Do you normally not spend much on food?
Considering the specialty dairy-free, gluten-free and corn-free foods that we buy, it’s easy for our groceries to cost $70 – 100 a week. Doug and Lane have enough restrictions in their diets already, so we can be pretty indulgent when it comes to food. Doug reasons that having good food to eat is one of the reasons he goes to work each day.
But as in everything in life, it’s important to keep that balance between discipline and grace.
The simple answer to how I keep our budget down to $250 is that if we can’t afford it, I don’t buy it. That’s it. That’s all there is.
The hardest part of No Spend Month — telling yourself no to the things you would normally buy — is the very thing that makes it so effective. It clarifies the difference between a need and a want. It forces you to be creative, and it shows you opportunities to save money in the months ahead.
As I thought about how to shrink my grocery bill this month, I knew I had to come up with some changes. We used to buy deli meat for Lane, but we realized that we could grill small hamburger patties and keep them ready in the freezer instead. Doug likes to drink kombucha (a tea to help digestion), but I knew we wouldn’t be able to spend $3 a bottle for it. I learned how to make it, and he likes mine better! Last year I learned how to make iced coffee. We’ve been perfecting our waffle recipe to skip buying frozen waffles. Those are just a few examples, and we’ll certainly continue the grocery savings after No Spend Month is over.
So much of what we buy is often through habit, and No Spend Month lets us start over to decide which spending habits we want to continue, and which ones we didn’t miss after all.
Some of our meals and snacks this week: pasta and fresh pesto, homemade pizza, scrambled eggs, cherries and blueberries, beans and rice, and a skillet dinner with frozen mystery meat.