Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Saving Not Spending - No Spending Challenge for March

As it is getting towards the end of February, I'm starting to look what happened during the month and also starting to looking ahead at next month. As I mentioned before, so far March looks like it is going to be a tight month for me. There is a whole bunch of part time work available, but unfortunately, I won't be able to do it. Instead I have a huge volunteer commitment for this month. I can't go into the details here, but suffice it to say I am going to be a very busy volunteering gal. None of the work I am doing is paid, however, it will be a whole lot of fun. It is working for a nonprofit that I love, doing work that I am really excited about. In fact, the only downside at all is that it will take up most of my evenings next month - evenings that I could be working at another job.

I've had a very successful February, so I have some surplus and that will help. However, I have also gone over budget in some areas and the surplus just won't be enough, plus I can't help but notice that my Amazon, Half and eBay sales are really down. So, that means I need to come up with some other means of making making my goals. With that in mind, I've decided to try something new for March....

I'm going to see how little I can spend. In fact, I am going to give myself a "No Spending" challenge.

Even though I try to save money, I still have a tendency to occasionally fall prey to impulse purchases. It happened last week. I was out shopping for a couple of needed items, and while I was there I picked a couple of things up at the store that were totally on impulse. By the time I was home I was already regretting it. I am happy to say that I was motivated enough to take everything back and return it. You know, that is a big change for me - back in the old "extra cash" days, I would never return an impulse purchase even if it wasn't something I needed. I would just buck up and deal with it and figure out how to pay for it and my "punishment" would be keeping whatever I bought. That's pretty lousy thinking!! This week I didn't particularly enjoy bringing what I bought back, but I felt a lot better once I had done it.

I also got some inspiration this week for a No Spending Challenge from some bloggers that I read. Budgets Are Sexy mentioned that he gave up spending for Lent last year and Three Rooms and a Path is working hard on cutting down on her dining out spending. So, what I am going to do is make March my month for not buying anything accept necessities.

In order to make this work, I need to define necessities:

No Extra Grocery Shopping

I am going to try to completely eat out of my own freezer and cupboards this month. I have lots of grains and beans in the pantry and have some meat in the freezer, so I should be fine. If I run out of something, I will put it on a list and see if it is something I must have this month to in order to make other meals. The only example I can think of off the top of my head would be something like olive oil. (Fortunately I am stocked up on it.)

No Impulse Purchases

Mrs Micah has had a number of good posts about no spending days lately, but one that particularly caught my eye was about making a list of things you want. She recommends creating a list of anything that catches your eye or that you want, rather than just picking it up on an unplanned purchase. Then, at the end of the month, you can see how your budget is and make the decision if it is really something you need. I like that idea a lot. For March I am going to make a commitment to review each purchase and see if it is something I need right now or if it can wait until April... or longer. I have a little notebook I keep in my purse, so I am going to jot things down there to wait until the end of the month.

Minimum of Shopping

Honestly, I don't feel like I spend a lot of extra money on "things." I haven't bought clothes in forever, no music, no DVDs, no home decor. Most of what I buy (when I do go over my budget) is in the categories of home repair and groceries. When I buy impulse items, it is usually one of these two, and I do sometimes splurge on makeup (though I always get it on sale) and other body care products. When this happens it isn't because I am shopping online - it is when I am in the store, so, March is going to be a great month for me to take this challenge - especially since I am going to be too dang busy to shop!

The Exceptions

There are are a couple of exceptions to the rule. I do have a few things I do need to purchase, one being shampoo. But I have a coupon for Ulta that starts March 1 and a gift certificate, so that won't be too bad. I also have a couple of small gifts to buy. Again though, those will be planned purchases and I can use all my mad frugal shopping skills to get good deals on them. I am also not going to include in my No Spending Challenge my dining out budget when it comes to friends. My idea here is not to alienate myself from my friends for a month, just to watch and monitor my daily spending. I will continue to try to not use my dining out budget for solo dining, since making meals at home is such a better deal. There are other obvious exceptions - gas for the car, for example.

My purpose in this challenge is just to see how often I am tempted by impulse purchases. It is also to develop some skills for dealing with those "must have" feelings. In order to keep myself in line I will add a line at the bottom of each post about my spending. I won't make whole posts about it, but I will track it here in my blog.

Wish me luck!

Cartoon by: Austin Kleon


Frugalchick said...

This is a really great challenge and I'm looking forward to seeing how awesome you're going to do. With the extra spending I've been doing since my friend has been with me plus paying taxes in a couple of weeks, this kind of challenge would be good for me too!

Anonymous said...

Good luck! This sounds like an awesome challenge :) I look forward seeing how you do!

K-money said...

You may get some comments about the questionable wisdom of volunteering when you could be working for pay and need the money, but I say do what you love. Do what gives your life purpose and meaning. You may have to live a little thin this month but if you do it will be because it is a choice you are willing to make. Good luck!

Dawn said...

Frugalchick - thanks so much! I appreciate your support and I will make sure to write about it regularly.

Frugal Dreamer - Thank You!

K-money - Yeah, I thought about that myself. Maybe this would have been a good time not to volunteer. However, this is one of those "once in a lifetime" projects that is really important for me to be a part of. I'm not planning on doing any additional volunteer work this year, so this will be my one Hoorah!

Arual said...

Just found your blog through frugal Chick. Good luck with your March goal! :)

Dawn said...

Thanks and Welcome Arual!

getting stuff done said...

Hi - just found your blog - through...? Moving on Up via Move to Portugal..... anyway - its really god. and I love that challenge. I totally relate to the frugality versus the slipping up and impulse buying habit!!
I had a days really good pay lately and have hoovered my way through it in a foolish fashion. I like Mrs Micahs advice too - re writing it down and seeing how you stand at the end of the month... v good advice. I think I need to reset my boundaries again, so that I dont waste my earnings!

Dawn said...

Getting stuff done - I am with you!! On months that I hit my goal, I almost always over spend in some fashion or another. Extra money is a tricky thing. I am starting to find I am better off shoring it up somewhere and forgetting about it, otherwise it spends way too easy.

Kristy @ Master Your Card said...

I really need to do this challenge! had a field day with emails on the over-budget stuff this month! I went crazy! I had a little extra money and I spent it instead of saving it! *sigh* Brand new, shiny electronics are my weakness! But, that might not have been so bad if I didn't have my best friends wedding next month - which means dress, shoes, hair and nails, and undergarments...not to mention the bachelorette party!

Good luck on your challenge Dawn! I have faith that you will do quite well in this challenge.

Dawn said...

Kristy - HA! I know exactly what you mean about Mint. I've been getting those little emails too. One of my faults is that when I have a little extra money my spending goes up - sometimes over what extra I made. Sigh...

This challenge is interesting because already, even before it has officially started, it is changing the way I look at things. I'm looking forward to seeing how it all turns out.