I’ve decided I’ll be doing three personal challenges this month: another No Spend Month; another Pantry Challenge; and the 31 Bags in 31 Days challenge. All three of these will be adapted a bit for my needs and my family situation, but I’m sure they’ll still help bunches.
My friend E. and I made the decision back in January to make March a No Spend Month, during a discussion about the government shutdown and how it affects both of our families. I was super excited to get a message from her recently that her “other half” is on board and excited to do the NSM challenge as well. I speak from experience when I say that it’s HUGE when everyone in the household (or at least all those with access to the money) is a willing participant. So here’s to saving some serious cash in March! My rules are as follows: 1) fuel is MOST DEFINITELY an allowed expense (some may laugh reading that, but my husband was driving on fumes near the end of January because he thought “No Spend” meant AT ALL. He figured if he ran out of gas he’d ride his bike to work until February 1st – but didn’t tell ME that! lol Lessons learned all around!); 2) perishable foods are an allowed expense, as is the purchase of non-perishables that restock used items (as long as we get the best deals we can on them at the time); 3) I have a limited budget set aside for gift buying for birthdays that will be here later in the year (if I happen to find just the right thing and a good deal); 4) I am watching a certain larger ticket item for a price drop – if it happens during March, I will buy the item. (I doubt it will – I’m assuming the next sale won’t be until Easter or Mother’s Day time.) Also, items purchased with gift cards we have/ receive/ earn will be allowed. So basically, my version of No Spend Month is technically “limited spending with some rules Month”. Having the rules just helps cut down on the random draining of cash that nobody thinks through, nobody remembers, and nobody can explain. 😉
Pantry Challenge rules for my family are basically: we’ll eat from what’s on hand as much as possible, and my menu plans for dinners will reflect that. I’m thinking of scheduling in a dinner out (or takeout), but with a price limit so the family doesn’t go overboard. We do have a restaurant that my parents sent us as a treat if the government shut down in February – that might be the perfect way to do things! My friend E. and I have already agreed that the reward for our No Spend Month will be a lunch or dinner out at a restaurant we both enjoy – that’s at the end of the month and I’ve already budgeted for it. As mentioned above, some limited grocery shopping will be done for perishables or on items that rebuild the pantry to keep things at the acceptable levels. As I type this, though, I have garbanzo beans soaking so I don’t buy canned beans this coming month.
40 Bags in 40 Days: My adaptation of this is that I won’t be shooting for 40 containers OF stuff – I’ll be shooting for a minimum of 40 *items* to donate, trade, or sell. Since the kids and I did a big book purge in February, to receive credit at a local bookstore, there’s not a lot to be done on that end. We also took a couple of bags of kids’ items to Goodwill in February. I do still have some clothing and accessories of my own to sort through, and I’m sure I can find items around the house that aren’t being put to good use. Another version, if you didn’t know about the 40 Bags challenge starting in February, is the 31 Bags in 31 Days adaptation, found here.
So that’s where I stand and what I’ll be puttering around doing. As of today, the last day of February, we more than made our goal for cash to put on the principal of husband’s car loan, so these challenges should lead to keeping that going strong. Keep an eye out for frugal accomplishments posts where I can share more on that! If you’d like to join me in one, or any, of these challenges, feel free to chime in down in the comments or write it up on your own blog and leave a link. The more, the merrier! And remember, #everypennycounts!