No spend month challenge update: I kinda sucked at it

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There are 5 days left of my no-spend month (at the time of first-drafting this post), and in general I think I've failed miserably. But before I totally beat myself up, let me explain a little bit.


I Bought a Car

I bought a car. I bought my dream car. I know I've talked a lot about being happy with what you have and not putting your identity into your car, but I was fortunate enough to be given a deal I couldn't refuse. (Subaru offered to pay off the rest of my Honda lease and they gave me a great deal on an upgraded package.)

Why I Started A No-Spend Challenge

My spending was getting a little crazy. Luckily I wasn't spending beyond my means. But I realized that money could've been going to things that mattered more to me: a down payment for a house, savings for trips, savings for Beans.

My Rules

My rules were simple: only buy the things I need (food, incidentials like diapers and toilet paper, etc). I was allowed to dine out and get coffee. My goal wasn't to deprive myself; it was simply to force myself to think twice before buying something I may or may not need.

What I Spent

Oh boy. I'm not excited to share this part.

Spending on Food: $743.98

Food is allowed. Dining out is allowed. I need to eat. And spending time with family and friends is important to me, and it usually involves a meal, because we all love to eat.

But I'm still a bit embarrassed to share these numbers.

  • Groceries: $342.66
  • Dining Out: $401.32

Dining out includes coffee, lunches out, dinners out, etc.

I should note, though, that I budget for both of these categories and both are well within my max. But looking at the number, $743.98, is a bit unsettling.

Spending on Necessities: $380.74

There are a few things I spent money on this month that I needed to. Medical expenses, gas, etc. "Items" includes things like Advil, saline spray, postage, batteries.

  • Medical Expenses: $177.50
  • Gas: $96.35
  • Items: $74.09
  • Because this doesn't fit in any other categories, Chris and I also bought compost worms. I wouldn't say they are necessitiesbut they're somewhere between "groceries" and "necessities" and "items": $32.80

Business Spending: $48.34

I bought a few things for my (various) businesses that I didn'tneed to purchase this month, but I did anyway.

Because my businesses generate income, I'm not sure that these expenses should count, but here goes:

  • Domain $23.87 (that I ended up not using…)
  • Creative Market Font: $16
  • iPad App: $8.47

Places Where I Cheated The System: Saved $54.75

There were a few serendipitous things that happened this past month that count as "no-spend".

  • A very kind soul on Twitter gave me a free cotton bureau shirt because I tweeted about it. Saved: $33.77
  • Our bullet blender cup split, so we needed to fix the situation. I bought a milk frother for my bulletproof coffee via Amazon, and I used rewards points. And this was a fantastic purchase; it makes bulletproof mornings so much easier and cleaner! Saved: $7.99. I should also mention here that we tried to buy a replacement cup for the bullet blender and the order got lost, and therefore we weren't charged for it. I also bought an immersion blender but returned it because it didn't work well.
  • Because my flimsy phone mount for the car was making it nearly dangerous to drive, I got a CD slot magnetic cradle-less car phone mount on Amazon with rewards points. Saved: $12.99. Also saved: my sanity.

Whoopsies Spending: $709.53

Welp, in case you're wondering why I'm writing this no-spend update a few days before the month is actually over, here's why.

This past weekend we went shopping. I'm not proud of it.

  • I bought an athletic hoodie at Dicks Sporting Goods. It was $19.99 and it's space-dyed grey. I want to wear it every day of the week. I wore it to work. I wore it on my first run back this season. So ultimately it's a win.
  • I bought two items at Clothes Mentor (a second hand thrift store, basically a more grown-up Plato's Closet). I went in to sell items and ended up buying two things (running pants and a work shirt) for $17.50

A few other whoopsies spending things:

  • I bought a stylus from Amazon. And then I returned it because it didn't work with my iPad Mini. So I spent $16.49 but I got that money back.
  • Uhh… I bought an iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil. Both refurbished. $672.04 from Apple. I plan on returning it… this sort of counts as a business expense because my plan is to use it as a digital bullet journal which will also help me sell my digital clipart. Doubts are out on whether I will return it or not. We shall see.

Big Wins: Saved About $122.99

There were a few big wins this past month.

  • Sugar Wax: I tried sugar waxing again even though I failed miserably at it a few years ago. It worked wonderfully. Turns out I saved myself quite a bit of money (and will continue to do so by skipping future salon waxes and doing an easy DIY). Saved about $70
  • I cut Beans' hair. Saved about $20
  • Then I cut my own hair thanks to the help of this awesome tutorial shared by my friend Jenny. Saved about $20
  • I took a book out from the library in lieu of buying a Kindle copy. See photo below. Also, I'm a horrible mother. Saved $12.99

Lessons Learned, And Spending In The Future

The Spending Recap

Well, it turns out that my no-spend month cost me $1,882.59. Well, $3,882.59 if you count the down payment on the car.

  • Spending on food, budgeted: $743.98
  • Spending on necessities, budgeted: $380.74
  • Business spending, unbudgeted: $48.34
  • Whoopsies spending on clothes: $37.49
  • Whoopsies spending on iPad and Apple Pencil: $672.04

But when it really comes down to it, and if I return my iPad, I spent $85.83 on true whoopsies spending combined with unbudgeted business spending. And THAT IS GOOD.

Spending Moving Forward

Food. I spend SO much money on food. In general I think my new rule will be only to spend money on food if I get to enjoy it with other people. So if I don't have lunch plans, I'll bring my lunch that day. That in and of itself will save me at least $15 on workdays. Maybe $20 if you count breakfast and lunch.

Also moving forward, I probably won't need to purchase any other domains or apps for my business. (Those of you who know me well are probably laughing so hard right now; okay okay… I'll probably be buying at least two more domains this year.)

AND, there is literally nothing else I want to upgrade in terms of technology this year. So even if I keep my iPad, it will be a business expense, and considering how well things are going with Hello Brio, I'd be happy to write off that expense against my self-employment income for this calendar year.

I also won't need a new car for a few years, haha.

Note to self: I picked the absolute worst month to do a no-spend challenge because of the unforseen car swap, the slew of doctors appointments that I made since I have new health insurance, and the tech upgrade because of side hustle growth.

No Spend: The Emotional Side

My shopping ban made me feel uneasy at times. So uneasy that I bought stuff. But the purchases I made this month will greatly improve my life; they already have.

The shopping ban also caused me to be more creative, for better or for worse. For worse meaning I started yet another Instagram account. (I'm up to 6 now. Hi, I'm Jenn, and I'm addicted to Instagram. Hiii Jennnnn.)

No Spend Continued

I want to continue not to spend money on frivolous things. But I need new glasses, so there's $100. And I need a new car seat for Beans, so there's $250. And we're looking to buy a house, so there's tens of thousands of dollars.

And the small expenses that go towards moving in general: buying those window treatments because you realize you don't want to live in a fishbowl and other weird necessities you don't think about until you move in.

In general, being a minimalist, I'm always on high-alert to analyze purchases before I make them. I'm quick to declutter and sell or donate things that we don't use. But other times I feel like the Worst Minimalist Ever.

This no spend month helped me figure out ways to get routine things done at home, in a more natural way. Like sugar waxing and DIY hair cuts for me and Beans.

Yes, I still have a shopping problem. But I'm making sure everything that comes into my house will serve a purpose and isn't frivolous. And I'm also replacing instead of adding.

All in all, even though you could easily write my "no-spend" month as a failure, it was still a big win for me. (And knowing you have a problem is the first step to fixing it 😂)

Did you join along in my no spend challenge? How did you do?

Cover photo by Blake Parkinson