As I mentioned in my previous post, we also happen to be participating in the No-Spend October challenge that's going on over at Northwest Edible Life. It's not really no spend, it's more accurately tighten-the-belt-until-it-hurts month. Recurring monthly bills such as the mortgage and utilities, monthly children's activities, medical bills and the like are all exempt from the challenge. Everything else counts toward your "No-Spend Budget" - groceries, gas, books, entertainment, eating out, pet food and anything else you can think of are to be cut to the bare bones. I know - my son is getting a crash course in home economics this month! Let's hope that he learns some good lessons from it.
I've read a few posts from bloggers who are participating in the challenge, and many of them have slashed their weekly food bills to around $30, concentrating on making meals from items that they have stocked up in their pantry. We had already slashed our food bill all of September, spending about $50 less a week than we normally do, so our pantry is looking pretty bare. We can probably stay at the level that we were at for September, which will save us another $200 this month. I know we'll need one bag of dog food, but I think we have enough chicken feed to last the month. And I should really get some kind of bonus points for not buying any dark chocolate at Trader Joe's yesterday. It was a Herculean feat to leave that luscious candy bar at the store.
Eating out isn't too big of an issue since we so rarely do it, anyway. One of the perks of being gluten free is that eating out becomes a no-no for the most part. Hubby will be eating out for the week that he's working out of town, but the company gives him money for that so it doesn't come out of our pocket. Locust Boy only spent $5 on food at the Greek festival today, which is some kind of record for him. He even shared his lamb with is friend Marcella, which was a miracle - that boy doesn't like to share his food with anybody!
We'll be using more gas this month than normal, due to it being hunting season, but we already knew this was going to be the case. Hubby is working out of town for a week, so the gas he isn't using driving to and from work will help offset the extra gas needed for hunting. I've cut down my library trips to once a week (gasp!) and am trying to be more vigilant with routing my errands for days that we are already out-and-about.
We have a few seasonal expenses, like the pumpkin patch and the corn maze, which will total $25 for all of us. We have a bunch of soda cans to take back, and should be able to get at least
$10 towards the $25. Most of the major expenses for our Halloween costumes have already been purchased, as has LB's ticket to the homeschool Halloween dance. I think I can get the rest of our costume gear for under $20. The hardest part about picking up the last few pieces at Goodwill is not buying any other "treasures" that I come across!
Other entertainment expenses shouldn't be much of an issue. We have a gift card from Blockbuster if we want to rent a movie, we don't drink coffee so there's no hankering for Starbucks, we use the library constantly, and even if there was a book that I decide I can't live without, I still have a credit at the bookstore. I will freely admit that if there's a movie that I'm dying to see at the discount theater the weekend that my guys go hunting, I'll go and happily spend the $3. :)
So far, we haven't noticed that big of a change in our standard of living, but we tend to be pretty frugal anyway. We've had some great conversations, though, about the importance of spending mindfully and how to have fun spending little or no money.
So what am I doing with all of this not-shopping time? I am using my time to make Christmas gifts, which will save us even more $$$ over the next few months.