It's January 31st, last day of our attempt at a no-spend month, which realistically was more of a "low-spend" month. And guess what? It was something of a non-event.
We did take the kids out to eat twice. Both on very busy, fun days, both using a combo of gift cards and coupons. The husband and I also went for lunch together a couple of times on our own and paid with our personal cash. The kids have done the best job ever of eating what we give them and trying at least a little of everything on their plates. I am convinced now there is a correlation.
Our total expenses, not including utilities, mortgage, etc., totaled LESS THAN HALF of the average monthly expense for all of 2012. That is SHOCKING.
I have quizzed the husband and kids, and no one feels deprived. We paid for the boys' spring sports, we had four grocery trips, gas for the car, and a few needed odds and ends along the way.
We finished the month with a comfortable surplus of cash to replenish the sad little savings account. And did this despite having a heavy month of semi-annual and quarterly bills due on top of our normal monthly bills.
This little experiment worked so well we've decided to do it again in February.
Our "rules" are as follows:
- No big box stores without a list in hand. Period.
- Try to shop smaller neighborhood stores when we need one thing, such as the hardware store.
- Purchases to be determined as a family.
- Use a gift card if you have one.
- Two restaurant trips are do-able, but try to find a coupon and/or gift card.
- Keep cleaning out the pantry and freezer for home cooked meals.
- Use what we have first.
- Make a reasonable attempt to fix things before replacing
What I learned this month: We waste a lot, and we shop for fun.
Time to fix that.