Results of my ‘No Money May’ Financial Challenge

May 29th, 2014 | Posted by Erica House in Life

Earlier this month I announced I was going to do a rather inappropriately named financial challenge — No Money May. My goal was to keep my spending, including groceries, down to $50 a week. I realized over the last few months that I was spending more than I should on food. I’ve always been pretty good about not buying new clothes very often, or going out to eat/drink more than once or twice a month, but I realized my ‘quick stop to Publix for sushi and arctic zero’ habit was doing some serious damage on my otherwise frugal monthly budget.

So, how did I do? Here’s my breakdown:

  • Publix $320
  • Fresh Market, Evermans, Target & Walgreens $80
  • Total Spent $400 ($100 a week)

I failed

I don’t want to say I failed because I was still much more vigilant about my spending then I have been recently, but I’m still a bit disappointed I couldn’t keep it closer to $50 a week. This doesn’t include a few other items that I forgot to budget for in May!

  • Brothers birthday
  • Mothers day
  • Thyroid Medication
  • Parking permit for school
  • Total Unplanned Spending: $135

I am happy that while I did go over it was only for groceries (albeit necessary or not.) I didn’t spend a dime on going out, stuff for the house, new clothes/accessories, make-up or anything. I think from here on out I will stick to aiming for under $100 a week. Ultimately, my goal for the month was to pay off my credit card (which I never carry a balance on but due to a series of bad luck I wasn’t able to pay mine off last month!) and I was able to do that so I’d consider this a success!

Next month I think I may have to buy a new pair of my favorite Mizuno’s (the wave sayonara.) My old pair has over 500 miles on them and I think running in the contributed to my new calf issues. I’ll also be registering for a 5k and am in desperate need of a haircut. Oh, and there’s Fathers Day!

Life; perpetually costing me money.

Do you keep a monthly budget?
What is the one thing you ‘splurge’ on every month? 

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39 Responses

  • I feel like $100 per week on quality food and not eating out is totally acceptable!

  • Maureen says:

    We keep a rough monthly budget. During the Winter months we almost always go over on groceries. During Summer, when fresh produce is more abundant {aka CHEAP} here in California, we spend half of our budget. I think it all evens out in the end.

    • Erica House says:

      It’s definitely frustrating being at the ‘whim’ of the ever-fluctuating cost of produce. I’ve started buying frozen veggies more often and will usually limit my fresh stuff to only what’s on sale.

  • I always splurge on mangos. Doesn’t matter what time of year or how much they cost, I buy mangos every week.

  • Little did I know we’ve been on the same spending diet all month! I had the same realization about groceries and decided to limit to 300 per week (sounds like a lot but I have a fam of 5!) I wound up coming in at about 325 which was successful. It’s a constant challenge! We also have all our meals home so that helps.

    My splurge is cooking oils…olive coconut and ghee and some organic produce for my kids. The kid snacks are the biggest challenge by far.

    • Erica House says:

      Well $300 a week means your spending $60 a week to feed each person which is awesome! It is something that I have to be constantly vigilant about. I know I could easily slip back into ‘let me just pop in the store real quick…’ and double my food spending again.

      I could see spending a small fortune on cooking oils! Snacking is one thing I’ve cut way back on since watching my budget. Most premade snacks are expensive, and they typically don’t add a lot of value to my daily nutritional needs. I’m also trying to get back into the habit of eating 3 big meals a day, instead of constantly grazing like I have been.

  • Good thing to do every once in a while. I used to keep J & I at $80 or less for groceries alone each month. We’re a bit more like $100-$120 right now. More if you count puppy food and treats. I guess we splurge financially on our CSA box. I’m sure I could get cheaper produce and less produce than what comes in our box but it’s a positive spend, forcing us to eat more veggies and locally grown ones at that.

    • Erica House says:

      You spend $100 A MONTH per person?! How???

      • Lol, no…. I meant each week! $100 for BOTH of us each week. Sometimes I think it’s easier when you can buy things in bulk to feed more than one person. I don’t know, though.

        • Erica House says:

          Lol – I thought I misread that!

          I bet it is easier to feed one person versus two. I can make a huge meal and have leftovers for dinner for a week. However, it would also be nice to have that same meal only last 1-2 days with someone else around and have more of a variety in my weekly meals!

  • Sheena says:

    I need to do the same. I did a vacation money jar and while that worked out really well for a couple months (basically putting any loose $1 bills I had in a jar), I haven’t been able to do it for the last 4 months. I started taking carpool to work, so I need the singles now, and I had to buy a new car (finally), so I now have a car payment that I didn’t have before and since the new car is newer and needs full coverage, my insurance went up by about $75 each month. Ay yay yay. Because of commuting, I don’t have a ton of time to grocery shop, cook, meal prep, etc but I need to be better about bringing my lunch to work with me, so that I don’t go out and spend $10 a day to eat out (even if it’s a healthy lunch) I could save so much that way!

    • Erica House says:

      Ugh car payments suck! I paid mine off last year so I flipped when it got damaged in the flood as I didn’t want to have to get a new one and have payments for 5 years again!

      Prep food on Sunday’s so you can bring lunches to work every day and have dinner ready at night! Doing that has been an absolute life (and diet!) saver for me.

      • Sheena says:

        I Need to work on Sunday prep days :) I do side work with Nuun, so I often work on Saturdays and Sundays (19 days of work in a row is nothing new!) and get home around 6pm on those days. I need to just hunker down for an hour or so after that and put stuff together. Which reminds me, I might need to go buy more tupperware if I want to do that!

        • Erica House says:

          Yes! Buying new tupperware is always fun and a good motivator to fill them up :) What work do you do for Nuun? I love that stuff and enjoyed meeting some of the girls working the expo at the Nashville marathon. I thought that would be such a fun job to have!

  • I think you did pretty darn good. We go out once a week and usually a second time if it’s a 3 day weekend. I used to try to not do that, but I’ve discovered the Friday night out to dinner is something the whole family enjoys, so now I budget for it. I’ve been trying really hard to cut out processed foods, so our food budget has gone up a bit since i”m replacing them with fruits, veggies, and cheese…

    I can usually keep our family of four around $150 per week + one ~$200 Costco trip a month.

    • Erica House says:

      I wish I lived closer to a Costco! I just checked online yesterday and the nearest one to me is almost 3 hours away (same for a Whole Foods and Trader Joes!) Family meals out are great memory makers so definitely worth budgeting in. Switching to a more whole foods diet will make sticking to a budget more difficult, but I’m finding ways to make it work (like buying frozen veggies vs. fresh since they are just as nutritious!)

  • Danielle says:

    Remember when I left a comment and said I was inspired to do the same? Big FAIL here too. We spent between $500-600 on groceries for two people…and that’s lower than we usually spend. Where does it all go?? We only have my income right now so we need to get serious. If you come across any helpful tips please let me know :-)

  • I spend $130 a week on food and alcohol alone ($260 per week for my husband and I combined). I do keep a budget ant that is what I allocate for it. $100 a week for everything is great! If anything this exercise was very useful in helping you open your eyes to what you are spending money on. My husband and I took a class on personal finance together and it was eye opening! Now we have a bi-weekly and yearly budget that we stick to and it totally helps!

    Keep it up and thanks for sharing!

    • Erica House says:

      I never even thought to do a yearly budget! I need to sit down this weekend and see what I can do with that. It’s so hard as an adjunct to not know how much money I’ll be making each semester!

  • We don’t keep a budget on certain things, but stay within our means…so maybe we do? The majority of our family members birthdays are in April, May, and June,so that’s eats a chunk (annoying, haha)… Not to mention mothers and Father’s Day. We have a break until September though!

  • Lynn says:

    I don’t see how only $50 a week on food is even possible! I rarely go out to eat, don’t drink coffee, etc, and I almost always spend more than that. It’s good food…lots of fruits and veggies for the most part, but it adds up fast. Maybe I live in a part of the country where food costs more? I know produce is expensive here.

    • Erica House says:

      If I was realllllly careful and only went to the store once a week I could do $50 a week. I’m not sure if produce here is expensive in comparison – apples and oranges are about $1 a piece, broccoli/cauli $2.50.

  • Tracking how I am spending money on food actually costs me time which translates into losing money :)

    Am I too crazy about this?

  • Cassie says:

    I JUST BOUGHT THE WAVE SAYANORA! Out of my budget, but I hated my Acsics… so I’m obsessed!

    • Erica House says:

      Awesome!! I’ve tried at least 5 other pairs of running shoes and these are the BEST for me. I feel like Mizuno sent a fairy into my bedroom at night and took a perfect mold of my foot.

  • Amanda says:

    I liked reading about your challenge. And hey at least you did end up spending less so that’s better than nothing! :)

  • Kelsey says:

    I did fairly well this month! And I’m proud of that. I held back on going for random coffee dates, and made sure that what I was buying at Target was necessary and not “just because!” Since don’t have a set income (it varies paycheck to paycheck), it is hard to budget. But I always make sure to put half of my rent + car loan into my savings after each paycheck, plus, putting money away for my CrossFit membership. And I do track my spending every day in a note on my iPhone, so I think that helps me from spending, knowing I have to put it in stone. =) My splurges usually include a few friend coffee dates (about 4ish a month) + a piece of workout clothing.

    • Erica House says:

      Not having a set income SUCKS, but in a way it’s helped me save more than I would have otherwise because my overall approach is to not spend money, ever, on anything. Since I’m never 100% sure what my income will be that’s the only way I feel safe operating, and it’s worked pretty well thus far. I’ll have to look into an app for my phone. I’ve never even thought of trying that!

  • marthabrownieruns says:

    We budget for most everything, the easy one is groceries. I buy a lot of bulk grains, beans and legumes. Yes it takes more prep time but we eat healthy and vegetarian. I spend 400 a month for 2. My tip is to take out cash and make meal plans, that way you know what you’re making and you dont buy extras.
    We’ve been going over our ‘going out’ budget though, we do a lot of social runs, races and local trips. So I’ll have to keep working on that.

    • Erica House says:

      I need to get better about buying bulk grains and beans. I don’t eat them often, but every little bit of extra $ helps. I’m pretty good about sticking to $50 a week in food but it can be a challenge sometimes with my love of publix sushi!

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