With November over, I’ve had a chance to have a look at the results of my no-spend month. I’ve spent about $150 less than I have for the past few months. I think this is pretty good, particularly since that also includes the fact that I overspent a bit stocking up on food and toiletries, had two planned meals out with friends, and that we fostered a stray cat for a few weeks and had to buy a few supplies for her. If I could do this most months, it would certainly add up over the course of the year.
Although the money is a nice reward and marker of success (such as it is is) the focus of the no spending challenge was to really consider my consumption habits a bit more broadly. Although I don’t generally consume a lot, I’m continually trying to be aware of my shopping and cut back wherever possible. I’ve dealt with a lot of the low hanging fruit already, so any other places where I can cut back a bit more are welcome. Doing a no spend challenge every so often is a good way to consider what exactly I’m spending money on and to highlight where I can cut back even further.
With this in mind, one thing I was very aware of was the importance of not just putting off spending until a new month just so it wouldn’t count for November. I wanted to be aware of my spending and cut back more generally. Putting it off to the future – and possibly spending more or even going over budget another month – just to preserve the illusion of being successful at the challenge wasn’t something I was interested in. It would be a false representation of my spending and would have defeated the purpose of the challenge. If I needed something – actually needed something, and not just wanted it – I went ahead and bought it. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t really need that much.
My real weakness for the month was secondhand sales, which also wasn’t much of a surprise. There were two in November – one that I forgot was happening and one that I didn’t know about until a week in advance – and they account for the remainder of my unanticipated spending that wasn’t toilet paper or vast quantities of rice and tinned tomatoes. I spent $22 at a bazaar at the start of the month to buy some kitchen items, candle holders, books, and refillable pens. There was also a thrift store sale at the end of the month. I spent another $19 on half-price books, most of them reference books for things like home repair, quilting, and sewing. Did I need any of it? No, not really, and I’m a little embarrassed by these transgressions. I’m inclined to allow myself a bit of leeway on secondhand sales, though, and I got some great useful things for very little money.
I plan to keep this up as much as possible. Expenses will always come up, of course, and I can’t say I won’t buy anything unnecessary ever again. It’s pretty remarkable how effective this kind of awareness is, though. Knowing that I was doing the challenge did have a positive effect on my spending for the month. Even with a few secondhand sales, meals out, and extra food and household items, I still managed to spend a good bit less than usual. Could I be better? Of course, and that’s something I’m working towards. For now, I’m pleased with the results of the challenge and looking forward to seeing if I can keep to my new and improved awareness going forward.