PART 1: No (unnecessary) Spending for One Month Challenge

Yet another challenge for us made by us.

We have been a single income family since August. It has not come without its challenges.  We have been on a limited income since May 2011 (sick leave with my twin pregnancy then maternity leave then a leave of absence).  I almost have been avoiding writing about this…but in an interest of freeing myself from the “shame” or stigma of living on a tight budget. I decided that post-Christmas has forced us to re-evaluate and get ourselves back on track.

The facts:

  • We are a family of five (six including Tessa our dog).
  • We are a single income family living in 2012 (soon to be 2013).
  • Living expenses are at all-time high.
  • We live near Toronto.
  • We have a family member with special dietary concerns.
  • We have 2 children in diapers (3 if you count evenings).   There are several monetary strikes against us.

Money is not everything. I understand. I am not upset so please do not read into this post as feeling poorly or desperation (read: parents we can afford to eat and yes, the electricity is paid or more importantly the natural gas bill).

We have decided to welcome 2013 with a challenge to remind ourselves that we are on a tight budget so that I don’t get carried away with another renovation that we should not be undertaking right now or so my husband does not rush out and purchase the newest video game or car parts to restore his rally car.

January will be the month of necessary spending only.  To us, food is NECESSARY. I will not sacrifice the food budget but I do plan to reimplement the 2 week grocery cycle to reduce the cost of our slowly out of control food budget.

This means the regular fixed expenses are exempt from the challenge (don’t worry mortgage company). We are permitting ourselves to spend on food and gas. No Frills and the Gas Station here we come!

To our dear friends & family: if we decline plans in the next 31 + days….this is why…we do like you and we do want to continue our friendships!

What does this mean?  Free family friendly activities…tobogganing, walks in the snow, visiting family and friends, playing games, finishing projects that we have started and already have the supplies in hand! No Home Depot this month!

To the critics of this undertaking such as “you cannot enjoy life without money” or “this is stupid” or “you are not living your life” (real comments made to other bloggers).  My rebuttal: what is wrong with taking a step back and enjoying the new toys that were given to our children for Christmas? Spending quality time together? Getting reorganized and refocused for the New Year? Finishing already started projects? Reading? Watching movies? Cooking? Is that not a full life? I think it sounds refreshing.

I will recap post-January 31st and let you know how we managed.  I cannot guarantee that we will be perfect.  There are a few expenditures that are unavoidable in January (dog license and a family birthday to name a few). But who is?

Feel free to share tips and tricks if you have any.  I have a feeling that we are not the only family in Ontario that could benefit from taking a hiatus from spending and consumerism.  We are not ones to shop as recreation or eat out as recreation so it will not be a huge change for us. The no home projects will be difficult.

Wish us luck.  Anyone want to join in?

The Smiths 
  1. Simply Frugal – A great website outlining tips and tricks. 
  2. – A place to find coupons that will be mailed directly to your home.

Others who have attempted the No Spend Month Challenge:

  1. The No-Spend Experiment by – Check out this blog – great tips for money free activities
  2. The No Spend Month Challenge by Small Notebook (here)

Just search “No Spend Challenge for TONS of other bloggers who have undertaken this challenge in the past.


11 thoughts on “PART 1: No (unnecessary) Spending for One Month Challenge

      • After the excess of Christmas, I definitely support this idea!! However, I think our month will be Feb (due to 5 family birthdays in Jan–yikes). Look forward to the challenge:)

  1. Sarah, as someone who has taken a plunge into a new career and isn’t sure where the next paycheque is, I am already knee deep in this concept.
    As a movie buff, I looked through some of my already owned movies and put together a pile of the ones I haven’t seen in a long time, or some I haven’t seen at all, and am opting NOT TO SPEND MONEY on any new movies until this pile has been watched.
    Megan has also been building menu cards for the week, so our dinners are planned and not left up to last minute “easier and more expsensive” options.
    Hope all goes well.

  2. I love the shout out to your parents that you’re not in a state of financial emergency. I’d need to do the same if I had posted this! Great plan, I hope it goes well for you guys!

  3. I’m glad I’ve stumbled across this post – I think a simple life can be more fulfilling than any other alternative. There would be those also who disagree, but that is why we are free to live our lives as we desire. I’m in a situation where we are also collapsing down to one wage in June due to a baby being on the way and we’re embracing a simple life philosophy to make life more rewarding and enriching than ever. Best of luck to you. Michael.

  4. What a great idea! January scares me. It’s where you go from “Oh relax, it’s the holidays, let’s make some exceptions” to “OMG! We spent how much?!?” It’s the time in Australia where the new school year begins. Three new sets of books, new pens and pencils, new shoes for all those growing feet, new bags to fit all the new books and this year it’s new uniforms as the eldest heads off to high school. Any reduction in non-necessary spending is required!

  5. I do this every few months and what you will find is that you never missed those extras.. that the month went along as it usually does without all the frivolous.. it can also set you on a new course to eat out less often, find new ways to use the old around your home, and feel a bit prouder at being able to control a seemingly uncontrolable part of our lives.

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