“No Spend” April

 

My "No Spend" April month has officially started.

My “No Spend” April month has officially started.

I recently posted on my Facebook that I was, ahem…”mentally preparing myself for a No Spend April.” A friend suggested that I do a blog post on it. See I’ve got really smart friends!

Mark and I are still house searching as well as contemplating building to suit our needs for a growing farm operation. Frankly, either way, both are expensive. Mark has a good job, I work part-time while finishing up school, but we still are as Jo Dee Messina puts it “above the below and below the upper” when it comes to finances. We’ve started following a lot of the Dave Ramsey financial books-Yes, we jumped on that band wagon because it works. We’ve paid off quite a few school loans already and have eliminated quite a bit of debt. However, we really need to curb our finances to start seriously saving. Sure, a % of our pay checks goes automatically into savings that we don’t touch, but we still spend way more than we should on incidentals, restaurants and my big sin-clothes shopping.

Here’s  a fun fact about me (don’t judge…okay…judge) I have 3 dressers, 1 closet and 1 closet rack full of clothes and I still can’t fit it all in! Did I just admit that? I have over 55 sweatshirts hanging in my closet. Mind you-I haven’t changed size since about 9thgrade so a lot of my clothes are 10 years old and Yes, I still wear it. I have my bank’s Cub Club t-shirt from when I was 10 and got my first savings account (Thanks Ma for my beginning $25) and I still wear it. A lot of my clothes are from garage sales or used clothing stores (I scored an American Eagle blazer for $5 at Goodwill the other day!) But I do not need another single piece of clothing, no matter how badly I want it. I went shopping at JC Penney’s a few weeks ago and came home with 6 shirts and a pair of pants all for $50. Pretty good deal right? Yes, but it is only a “deal” or “savings” if you actually need it. I probably could have lived without those new mint jeans no matter how much I love them.

So what’s important to me- a house. No- a home. A place we can make our own, decorate and make memories in. A place our future children can play games, make a mess and track mud in to. A place that I can snuggle on the couch with my hubby and not care that my laundry isn’t done. A place we can plant roots, teach our children about farming and taking care of the land, and a place we can call our own. As much as I am grateful to my mom for putting up with us until we can find something that suits our needs, it can be frustrating too. We don’t have enough space and all my lovely wedding gifts are stacked on shelving units still in their boxes, unused, just waiting for their own home as well.  So that is where my first “NO Spend April” comes in.

I am vowing not to spend any money on clothing this month. It actually makes me shudder a little bit saying that-how awful is that? I am vowing to not eat out except for ONCE this month. So no Mav Ave for a quick lunch or Noodles for some Wisconsin Mac & Cheese. Time to brown bag it every day! We will be sticking to a budget for groceries/personal care/etc. of $150 for the month. This also means I’m going to try to work with what is in the pantry as much as I can. Time to use up the countless bags of noodles (How does that happen? 8 bags of different noodles?! For real!) so Mark might be eating a lot of hotdishes this month! J Gas is our biggest budget buster with Mark currently commuting an hour to work, and me twice a week as well. But now that it is spring, Mark is switching to his “beater car” versus truck to help save money on that front. I will also try to eliminate trips to town unless absolutely needed to help with that as well. There are 2 things that I will be spending money on: my Sigma stoles for graduation (HOLY CRAP, I’m graduating in a month with 2 degrees!!) and a hair appointment I have made for a wedding. But those are the only 2 “incidentals” I will be spending money on this month. I won’t be purchasing any games, any DVD rentals, Caribou Coffee (GULP), and/or decor items, etc. You get the idea.  We’ll be figuring out more free date night ideas and if you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

No Spend April - the "budget" for things that get way too much of our money spent on them!

No Spend April – the “budget” for things that get way too much of our money spent on them!

I know it is going to be hard. In fact, I can already feel my chest tightening a little bit while writing this. But I also know the end reward is greater. Not only will we be working to make our money work for us and not let it control us, we will be saving towards that end goal of a place to call our own. We have other big purchases in mind such as a new camper, an iPad for farm marketing use, and new phones as well, so we know we need to start taking control of our money.

Do you do any type of budgeting and savings plan? We also are doing the 52 week savings plan and the $5 bill plan this year as well. But really cracking down on our spending (and don’t let Mark fool you- he has his vices too…ahem tools and fishing gear) will help us figure out where our money is going and how we can better utilize it towards our goals.

Thoughts? Suggestions? I’m open to hear your money saving tips! Know anywhere to get some good Caribou coupons-haha…but seriously…

-Sara

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7 thoughts on ““No Spend” April

  1. Brave girl operating on $150 a month for groceries/household stuff!! Granted, we have 2 extra mouths to feed here, but we have $100 a week which is TOUGH. Matthew just put his two week notice in at work today so he can take that leap of faith into his own business, and I start work on the 15th (no pay for a month…state job ugh) so we are kind of freaking out. I can’t relate to the clothing addiction since I pretty much hate shopping, especially when I have the kids with me, but our vice is eating out too much. I know you mentioned a coupon…do you coupon on a regular basis? We have 3 grocery stores in our area that double coupons up to .50 (so that means $1 off) and two of those stores has buy one get one free items every week. Do y’all have anything like that up there? Don’t forget the stores that have store coupons as well. For example, you can print Target coupons AND use a manufacturer coupon from the newspaper. We have a blog here called SouthernSavers that puts a store’s ad in list form and tells you what coupons are out there for each item, and then your final cost. It helps a TON to do it that way instead of cutting out every single coupon that comes in the paper (and inevitability forgetting about it). Couponing is how I save about 40-50% on our groceries :)

    • I do use coupons! I just started last month with some help from Mark’s co-worker’s wife. I was seriously amazed as we saved $25 with coupons just on stuff we buy normally like deoderant, shaving cream, etc. My favorites are the buy 1 get 1 for free coupons! I didn’t realize that Target lets you use their coupons plus manufacturers! I will have to remember that!
      Yeah- we are doing some job/school contemplations for me right now as well so I totally hear you on the “leap of faith” money stress!

  2. I tried a similar exercise for about five months several years back in order to pay off my debt. It was a great experience and really helped me to gain focus on my dreams and understand how much you can do without needing to spend money. There’s this book called “Not Buying It” that helped me figure out how to not spend money. Check it out at your library and see if it doesn’t give you some insightful tips. Good luck with this endeavor! ~M.

  3. Great ideas you have to save $, Sara. On groceries, shop Aldi for your basics. Prices are so much lower than elsewhere in town. But you can’t get everything there. Also, I seldom buy name brand anything. Not worth the price difference.

    Stop eating out, except for the occasional treat. Just way too expensive. Definitely brown bag it daily.

    As for the clothes, I cannot relate to that at all but am happy to see you shop thrift stores and garage sales. I also love both as sources for home decor items.

    Good luck with your financial plan.

    • I love Aldi! It is my first stop especially when planning a party for things like cream cheese and shredded cheese because it helps cut grocery costs when feeding extras!
      Cutting out going out to eat is going to be our big money savings. We spend a lot there, just with both of us getting lunch some where during the week!
      I’m excited for garage sale season because that is usually where I find all my deals! Last year I got a whole bag of dress pants for work for $1!

  4. Pingback: No Spend April Update! | Hewitt Farms, Inc.

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