Sunday, January 1, 2012

31 Days of Nothing Challenge

I know this is a personal blog but I'm going to do something a little different this month.  I read a lot of money-saving blogs and one of my favorite local (Iowa) blogs is hosting a challenge called 31 Days of Nothing Challenge. Sara, at Learning the Frugal Life, is in her fourth year of spending nothing for one month.  I thought it'd be fun to join up, mostly to motivate myself, but also to be motivated by other bloggers.

Directly from Sara's blog, here are her rules: 

"1. The ultimate goal is to spend NO money except for necessities. For my family I consider necessities to be gas for work and appointments, monthly prescription medications, groceries (although very minimal, more on this later) and our basic bills and utilities. Necessities may mean something different for your family.

2. There will be no consumerism. My hope is to stay out of the stores completely. No new clothes, books, or any other impulse buys. No shopping the deals!

3. Groceries. I am allowing $25 per week for grocery shopping or $100 per month. I really just want to stick with eating from the pantry and freezers as much as possible. We will need milk for the baby, as well as fresh produce so I am setting money aside for those things. We should be good on most other items because our freezers and pantry are very full. I usually budget $500 for the month.

4. Zero money spent on entertainment. No eating out, we will cook from scratch and eat at home each day. No money spent on movies or impromptu ice cream cones. We usually budget $150 each month for entertainment.

5. Allowance. Everyone is giving up their allowance for the month. There will be no money in our pockets tempting us to spend it.

6. My gas budget is up in the air right now. I need to actually keep track of what we are spending so I can get a more accurate number. For this month though, I want to just try and stay home as much as possible. Combine our errands so that we aren't making multiple trips each week.

7. Get back composting, recycling, and shutting off. Our compost bin has been missing so scraps have been being tossed in the trash which makes me crazy. We are great at recycling but the bins need to be cleaned up. My family has gotten extremely lazy about shutting off lights and unplugging items when not in use. This is going to be enforced more.

8. Cutting back on water usage. Our water bill has done nothing but climb. We use alot of water. Mainly because of long showers and children playing in the sinks. Showers will be timed and sink time monitored to make sure we aren't being wasteful."

We are motivated to do this challenge for 2 reasons.  1) We are saving $ to buy a house here or paying down on our mortgage on our Clive house, whichever comes first.  2) For the last 2 months, we've spent $3000 over "normal" budgeted expenses with traveling for Justin's sister's wedding, Christmas shopping, and doctor bills--OUCH!

Sara says you can change the rules to make it your own challenge so after talking to Justin, we've set a few ground rules to make this challenge work for us. Here is our strategy for the month of zero spending:

1)  Cut out all unnecessary spending from our monthly budget.  
      Here are some of the things we typically budget for each month that we plan to cut out or cut back  on this month:
  • Cut Uncategorized spending (aka: blow money)--$100
  • Cut Restaurants/coffee--$150
  • Cut Shopping (clothes, books, etc.)--$100
  • Cut Entertainment--$200
  • Groceries, normally $250 plan to spend $100, saving $150
  • Gas, normally spend $250, plan to spend $125, saving $125 
   Just by cutting out these unnecessary budget items, we'll save $775.

2)  Sell unwanted "clutter" around the house.  I've already listed several things on an online Garage Sale.  I hope to make $250 off of unused things sitting around the house.

3)  We plan to be more mindful about turning off lights and conserving water.  I have no idea how much this will save us but we're going to try it.

I am excited about this challenge and plan to update the blog each weekend to re-cap our week of saving.   I am passionate about saving money.  :)


~Sara said...

Woot for another local blogger! So glad you are linking up and joining the challenge. I too am going to be going through the house and getting rid of unwanted toys and "junk"! I look forward to reading your progress throughout the month. Thanks for linking up.