It’s time for the second week check in of my No Spend Month Challenge! I know all y’all really want to know is if I’ve busted my budget yet. We’ll get to that. In addition to an update on my progress, I’ll be sharing some tips to save money that don’t require a whole lot of work on your part.
Never in my vision for this blog did I ever think I would be sharing money tips with you. This is supposed to be about woodworking and home improvements and such. Things evolve so just roll with me a bit. Hopefully next week I’ll be able to share some of my scrap wood project ideas with you that don’t cost any money (or very little) and it will bring this all full circle back to woodworking. Or something like that.
Anywho, in order to keep you reading to the end to see my progress so far, I’m going to start with the money saving tips/hacks that will help pad your bank account without much effort on your part. I know, it’s so annoying to be made to wait. (Insert mildly evil laugh)
There are all kinds of money saving plans out there for you to dive into. Some are very simple while some require a lot of work and sacrifice to succeed. Which one will work for you depends completely on what your financial situation and goals are as well as how much effort you’re willing to put into it. I am by no means a financial expert so take what I have to say with a grain of salt and a little bit of a “what works for one does not work for all” attitude. What I’m about to share are some small things that have worked for me that I think could be a good option to try. Ready?
- Deposit a portion of each paycheck directly into a savings account.
- You can ask that your company split your direct deposit into two separate accounts or set up a reoccurring transfer through your bank so that a portion of your check goes into a savings account without you even having to think about it. I’ve found that most people don’t even realize the money is “missing” from their check if it goes immediately into a separate account without them “touching” it. I have an automatic transfer setup through my bank (I even did it on my bank’s cell phone app) to move a set amount of money to a savings account on payday. This doesn’t have to be a large amount. If all you can swing is $20 a check, that’s an extra $500+ a year! The more money you can direct to a savings account with each check, the more money will be built up by the end of the year. Make sure the amount you choose is one that is comfortable to you and won’t tempt you to dip into that savings to cover bills. I’ve also seen some “plans” on Pinterest about depositing varying amounts each week to savings to save X amount by the end of the year. I tried that for a couple months. It was hard to keep up with all of the different amounts. A set number each time was much easier for me.
- Save all of your $5 bills.
- I saw this one floating around Pinterest several times and finally decided to give it a try for the first time last year. The premise is that when you get a $5 bill as change, you don’t spend it. You save them throughout the year. The idea is that you’ll at least have a couple hundred dollars at the end of the year to deposit in your savings or use as Christmas money. I had a hard time remembering to take every $5 bill out of my wallet but at the end of the year, I was able to save about $250-300 just by not spending a particular bill denomination. You could do this with any amount of money that is comfortable for you. Even pocket change adds up over time. If you really don’t deal much with cash, you can see if your bank offers any services such as rounding up to the next whole dollar and depositing that amount in your account.
- Lower your credit card interest rate.
- Did you know you could contact your credit card company and ask that your interest rate be lowered? Neither did I until just a few weeks ago. First, it is my personal policy to never charge more to a credit card than I can pay off at the end of the billing cycle and to pay off the cards completely each month. I encourage you to adopt the same policy if you don’t already have it. Paying a ridiculous amount of interest when you don’t have to is nuts. However, if you are planning a large purchase or shopping event and it would be easier to pay the balance off over time, you can contact your credit card company and request to have your interest rate lowered. Obviously, you have better chances at getting your request granted if you have a good payment history and a low balance. I contacted Discover last week and got my interest rate lowered from the standard 21% to 0% for the next year. You really can’t beat that! And it took me a total of five minutes.
- Cancel, amend, or freeze accounts/services you no longer use or need.
- From subscription services to monthly memberships, we waste a lot of money on things we don’t truly need or use. Do you have more magazines than you can keep up with? Are you paying for more channels than you actually watch? Are you really using that gym membership to its potential? Cancel the things you no longer want/use. Ask to amend services you currently subscribe to so that they are better suited to your needs such as which television plan you have. Look for alternatives to the services you already have such as cutting cable in exchange for streaming services like Roku or Hulu. I’ll be honest with you guys, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to get rid of my satellite service. It’s stupid expensive for what I use and I really need to take my own advice here about looking for a better suited plan but streaming services alone just aren’t for me. And if you’re in the same boat, that’s okay. Another thing you can try is to call these companies and ask for a special promotional rate. It may only last a year or two but that’s year or two of savings you wouldn’t have otherwise had.
- Eat in.
- This one may be the least fun of the suggestions but it really isn’t that awful. You can save sooo much money by simply eating at home more than you eat out. The average fast food meal for one costs between $5-10. For math’s sake, we’ll just call it $7.50. If you eat lunch out every day during your work week, you’re spending $37.50. And you still have breakfast and dinner to account for! If you’re eating at fast casual or dine in restaurants, you’re looking at about $15 per person per meal. That’s a whopping $75 for five meals! I spent less than that at the grocery store last week and bought most of the groceries I would eat for two weeks for all of my meals. I’m realistic. Sometimes you just have to go for the convenient option or fulfill a craving. If you take a little time before your next grocery trip to plan out your upcoming meals and find ways to use the same ingredients for multiple meals, you’ll be money ahead. Meal planning and meal prepping are huge in padding your bottom line because you aren’t as tempted to go for the quick option. You may even find that you lose a little weight because you are eating better by eating in. Everyone wants that.
There you have it. It wasn’t so bad, right? I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I abide by every single one of these tips 100% of the time. And I’m no money guru. But taking these small steps has really helped me out over the years. If you’d like to find some more tips to try, I hear the Google and Pinterest machines will tell you all kinds of stuff.
Now for my week two check in! I’ve made you wait long enough so I’ll through out the good stuff first. I still have not spent any of my “fun money”. For realz. And it hasn’t been that difficult. There have been a couple things come up that I would like to purchase but it came down to an evaluation of do I really need it or can I justify the want. For most, it’s been no. For the rest, I’ve postponed to the purchase to December. Ha! I’m only human, folks.
As far as my food budget, I did go to the store for a few items to supplement what I already have but that’s it. I spent a whopping $28. I’m still working my way through what I bought last week. I still have roughly $110 left to spend on food for the month. I also haven’t eaten out where I’ve had to foot the bill. You gotta play the game and if you can talk someone else into buying because you’re doing some dumb no spend month thing, it’s totally not cheating. It’s being smart.
Per the rules I told you about last week, these types of purchases don’t count against me but I did have some expenses related to customer orders and the dogs. I spent just about $40 to finish out an order (I had to replace a couple things) but that’s really the only money I foresee spending this month on shop related items. As far as the dogs, I had to buy food and flea preventive as well as take Big Dog to the vet for an ear infection (four medications later…). The vet was an unexpected expense but those happen.
So far so good with the no spend month. Better than expected, really, for foolishly scheduling it in November when the holidays are quickly approaching. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, I suppose.
See y’all next week with another update!
If you missed the other installments of the No Spend Month, you can check them out here.