In the interest of keeping both my budget and my stuff in check, I’m planning to challenge myself for January with a no spend month. Y’know, because I don’t have enough going on. Between travel, the odd gift, and a few anticipated but still unpleasant expenses, December’s been a bit on the spendy side. On top of that, I’ve been thinking through some big financial goals and trying to curb my extraneous (mostly secondhand) spending. I think a month off from spending will do me good.
My usual expenses will be exempt from the challenge – I’ll be paying rent, phone, internet, and insurance, as per usual. I’ll be allowing myself health-related expenses. I go for regular massage therapy and physio and those will stay in the interest of maintaining my health. I was also planning to do yoga this year and I’m willing to put the money towards a few classes – it should help some ongoing issues I’ve been having with my back and knees.
Food and transportation are a bit more complicated. Although they’re clearly necessary in some instances, I do think I could cut back a bit so I’m putting a few restrictions into play.
To cut down on transportation I’ll be limiting unnecessary trips. I drive to and from work daily, pay for a parking permit, and I do some reimbursed work-related travel usually once per week. This makes budgeting somewhat challenging, since all the costs aren’t mine and the reimbursement covers more than the cost of gas. The easiest solution seems to be limiting trips. I’m aiming for one non-work trip a week for errands and two out of town weekend trips, since they use a good bit of gas. My goal is to stay under $125 for the month for my non-work transportation costs.
In terms of food, I’ll be focusing on simple, basic vegetarian food cooked at home. I have a lot of pantry staples that I can use and will buy mainly the fresh veggies, dairy, and eggs that I need to round things out. My plan is to spend no more than $25 per week on food, which will bring me in at $100 for the month, significantly less than the $250 I usually budget, which seems really high now that I’ve written it out. I’m seeing lots of opportunities to break out some of my underused cookbooks and try out some new dishes with what I have on hand.
Usually this is where I start to talk about exceptions – the things that have been on my radar that I’ve been meaning to buy for awhile and would make a no spend month exception for if they suddenly went on serious sale or something. I just don’t seem to have a lot to put on the list right now. I do plan to buy snow tires for the car, but I’ve been saving for months for that. I need a few more rubber rings for my pantry jars. Other than that, even my usual suspects – a water filter, dehydrator, and a cookbook or two that I’ve had my eye on – aren’t pressing enough for me to put them here. So, for now, the exemption list will remain short and, with any luck, my spending will stay low.