Budgeting Bare

No Spend Month Results & May + June Spending Reports

Curious about a “No Spend Month” but not sure if it’s right for you? In this post, I’ll explain my no spend month including how it went, how much money I saved, and how I failed. I’ll also cover everything I spent money on in May and June. 

How No Spend Months Can Help You Reset Your Spending

How is it already July? We’re seven months into the year and, at least in Chicago, we’ve spent the last four months sheltering in place. I can honestly say this isn’t how I planned my year going, but I think I’ve been making the most of it so far. 

As you can see, I’m a bit behind on my spending reports because in June I decided to focus on creating an “I Can’t: Budget” workshop instead of focusing on blogging. It was very worth it. I killed it with the workshop AND I’ve decided to use that workshop as a basis for a new course I plan to launch next year. 

Exciting stuff.

But this post isn’t about that. This post is about my spending reports for May and June, as well as a little overview on how my no spend month truly went.

Spoiler alert: I failed. But I did better than I thought I would.

But before we get to that, let’s go over the categorical spends for May and June.

Things to note before we dive in– May had three budgeting periods in it. Which is why, despite having a no spend month within that, my TOTAL spending was almost $2k more than the norm. The dates just kind of aligned to sneak an extra two weeks in, so I figured why not? Plus it allowed me to procrastinate. The extra two weeks makes this spending report a little bit more complicated, but I think we’ll get through it together.

Watch this Post

May + June 2020 Spending Report Categories

May 2020 Spending Categories

As you can see, I went over budget in May by $40 and in June by $340. But I can explain. And my excuses are good. 

Sort of. Not really.

The Fuck-ups Explained

1. Groceries

Groceries both months were a little bit higher than normal. May’s grocery bill seems absurd because it’s three spending periods instead of two. Usually I spend between $220 to $250 a month on groceries, which is about $120 per pay period. May was three pay periods, so the goal should’ve been about $360 for May, which makes the overspend of $416 a little easier to swallow. 

Why did I go so overboard on groceries? 

Well, for one, it was during my no-spend month where I was allowed to spend money on groceries but not on things like entertainment.

So what did I do? I ended up sneaking in some extras in my grocery budget… like some champagne and beer for when my little sister found her wedding dress (on the first TRY!). 

Another reason I have been spending more on groceries on each individual run to the grocery store is because I try to stock up enough so that I don’t have to go back anytime soon. But then, inevitably, I run out of fresh food and go back to the store anyway because I miss my fresh fruit and veggies. 

What I need to do is eat everything in my house before I go back to the grocery store. That will be my goal in July! Even if it means getting crafty with some new recipes and experiments.

2. Donations (But is that reeeeeeeealllly a fuck-up?)

You see in my June spending report, I have an almost $400 donation that I didn’t plan for.  While that makes it look as if I went negative in the budget, I actually donated the income I made from the “I Can’t: Budget” workshop I did with Mac & Cheese Productions.

So that kind of evened itself out.

I thought about not even including it in my budget, but I like including all the numbers, even if it ends up getting reconciled in my yearly budget. I counted that as income and I also counted it as an expense, so it really won’t impact my overall numbers but I will be able to see how much extra money I made this year and what my total number of donations was.

Which I like seeing even more than I like seeing perfect budget numbers.

3. Dating

Lol, first month back in the dating game and I’m already fucking up. Yay!

I went almost $10 over in dating– cue the groans. Yes, I know it’s a small number to go over budget, and I’m not mad about it. 

The thing is, I’ve been holing up in my house for the last several months. I think it’s okay to spend a LIL bit of money on dating again. BUT I do need to watch this number because I do have a tendency to blow a lot of money on my significant others because I (1) love doing new things with my SO’s and (2) it’s fun! And (3) it’s a great excuse to let my little bad-n-bougie self out every once in a while.

Need to watch it though because it’s easy to get carried away and buy us a trip to Mexico because WHY NOT. ROMANCE. SPONTANEITY. SEXY BODIES ON THE BEACH.

*sigh*

Thank you, ‘rona for keeping me in check

As a side note, I’m doing a great job justifying all my decisions in this blog post, aren’t I?

 

4. Eating Out AKA Grubhub

Even though my entertainment budget looks okay from the outside looking in, I actually went over budget but kept adjusting my planned number because it helps me to not go into “fuck-it” mindset. That’s why you’ll see different numbers when I explain the results of my “No Spend Month”.

What you’ll see in my spending report is my entertainment budget reflects getting back into the bad habit of eating out too much. I was doing SO WELL! But the thing about getting back into the habit of ordering in is it’s SO easy to keep doing it. Because ordering in is so goooooood and so easy and so deliiiiicious. 

 

But it has to stop. I need to re-dedicate myself to not spending money ordering in because it gets expensive quickly. In two months, I went from spending almost nothing on eating out in April to spending $171 on eating out in May and June.

That’s a lot! I don’t want to fall into the bad habit again so in July, I plan to get back to cooking more and not spending SO much on eating out.

Will I eat out? Yes, because my sister is coming to stay with me for a weekend BUT I will NOT allow myself to order food for myself at home, when it’s just me.

Deal? I can order in when it’s a socializing thing because that’s something I value. BUT, eating mac n cheese on the couch cause I’m hungover on a Sunday? No more.

 

That’s all for fuck-ups! Not too bad, right? Heh. Not too great either. 

Debt Payments & Emergency Funds

Before we dive into the results of my “No Spend Month”, I do want to talk about debt and emergency funds. 

You may have noticed that I’m back on track with putting some extra cash on debt. That is all because I hit my three-month mark in my savings account, which means I can live off of my cash savings for three months if I were to suddenly lose my job or not be able to work for some reason.

I would like to get to the point where I have six months in my savings, but knowing I have enough saved for three months gives me the peace of mind to keep paying down debt and saving money.

Read more about Emergeny Funds in “Emergency Funds: The Ultimate Guide to Saving More Now”.

The Results of My "No Spend Month"

Now it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for– how did I actually do on that No Spend Month?

If you followed along in my Instagram story from May 5th to June 4th, you’ll know that I attempted a “No Spend Month”. For those of you who do not know, a “No Spend Month” is a month where you plan out exactly what you’re allowed to spend money on and what you aren’t. 

In this case, I allowed myself to spend a pre-set amount of money on groceries, rent, Mother’s Day, Health/Medical, Debt, Renter’s Insurance, Utilities/Cell Phone, my dog and Clo Bare supplies for pet portraits. Everything else, including entertainment, personal, special occasions, etc, was supposed to be off-limits.

How did I actually do in that timeframe?

Well, I failed.

I have some work to do to re-frugalize myself. I feel like after the no-spend month I’m actually a little bit more spendy now. This may be why I might not actually recommend a spending month that’s as strict as I attempted to do. But let’s look at the numbers first.

No Spend Month

Ok, so yes, I failed– BUT I spent almost $2.5k less than my average spend for the last six months. That is effective as fuck.

How I Failed

Now, we’ve already covered the fact that I failed. I spent $68 on Entertainment (two dinners ordered in because of poor planning and laziness), and I also went over on groceries because I kept pretending something was groceries even though it likely was entertainment (looking at you, bottle of champagne and case of Corona Premier). 

Transportation was also something I planned on not spending money on but I ended up connecting with a cool guy on an app and I went on a date. I took the train on the way there (yaY! BUDGET FRIendlY) but then because of the protests that happened that day, the train wouldn’t take me all the way to our date so I had to grab an Uber. AND THEN, because it was late on my way back from the date, I took an Uber for safety purposes on the way back.

I tried!

I also went over on Donations and Personal during this time because when the protests started, I REALLY wanted to donate in support of the bail bond funds as well as support black-owned businesses. So? I got out that credit card and bought all the books from Semicolon– Chicago’s only black-woman owned bookstore, and also donated to the Chicago Community Bond Fund.

I’m very into breaking my “No Spend Month” to support Black Lives Matter.

How I Succeeded in my "No Spend Month"

I spent almost $2.5k less than an average month has been over the last six months!

That’s not nothing.

There were a couple of $8k months within the last few spending periods because of the move so the $5k number is a little inflated due to moving and other major expenses, but even if that number is only $1k less than normal, it’s still a decent impact I’m excited about. 

It also helped me totally reset my spending behavior. After the no spend month, I felt more reluctant to buy things that prior to the no spend month I might not have thought twice about. For at least the first few weeks after the no spend month, I just didn’t spend money like I used to. My go-to answer when thinking about if I wanted to buy something was “Do I need this? No.” 

Drawbacks of a No Spend Month

However, you can see in my June numbers that I then swung the pendulum back to spending more money. 

My grocery bill went up. 

Transportation skyrocketed (thanks again, dating). 

Entertainment, dating, a keyboard!

All the things got added to June because I’d spent May depriving myself of spending money BUT the good news is I still didn’t exceed my normal monthly spend which is on average about $5.7k a month, including the $2k I spend on debt and all other expenses.

I spent $5.3k in June which was several hundred dollars less than my average.

Conclusion: What I Learned About a No Spend Month

So was the no spend month a success? I’d say so, although not a RAVING success. It helped me spend less and save more than I normally would. It reset some of my spending behaviors. And it gave me a realization that I can actually spend quite a bit less if I focus on it.

It’s also a good lesson that I didn’t go absolutely crazy while doing a No Spend Month. After the first couple of days, not spending became easy, and while I clearly failed by ordering take out towards the end of the month, for the most part? 

It was a good practice and I’ll probably do another in a few months to see if I can do even better. 

 

Now, on to the spending reports for the last two months.

Date

Amount

Description

Category

4/24/2020

$15

mask

Personal

4/24/2020

$61

aldi

Groceries

4/24/2020

$20

program

Health/medical

4/27/2020

$175

Birthday present to myself

Special Occasion

4/28/2020

$805

student loans

Debt

4/29/2020

$133

vet

Dog

4/29/2020

$35

dog food

Dog

5/1/2020

$40

Beer

Entertainment

5/2/2020

$55

dinner

Entertainment

5/3/2020

$13

movies

Entertainment

5/3/2020

$16

frontline flea and tick

Dog

5/3/2020

$30

sunglasses

Personal

5/4/2020

$1,419

rent

Home

5/4/2020

$22

groceries

Groceries

5/7/2020

$27

aldi

Groceries

5/8/2020

$53

aldi

Groceries

5/8/2020

$8

games for mom’s day

special occassion

5/11/2020

$125

Cell Phone

Utilities/Cell Phone

5/11/2020

$24

nicor

Utilities/Cell Phone

5/14/2020

$43

rogaine

Health/medical

5/14/2020

$8

renters insurance

Renter’s Insurance

5/15/2020

$44

comcast

Utilities/Cell Phone

5/15/2020

$18

dog ear wash

Dog

5/15/2020

$24

Hyvee

Groceries

5/16/2020

$42

groceries

Groceries

5/18/2020

$79

paintings (paid for by customer)

Clo Bare

5/18/2020

$39

beachbody

Health/medical

5/21/2020

$23

ComEd

Utilities/Cell Phone

5/22/2020

$26

Pete’s Market

Groceries

5/22/2020

$60

aldi

Groceries

5/24/2020

$17

jewel

Groceries

5/24/2020

$20

program

Health/medical

5/26/2020

$10

dog food

Dog

5/29/2020

$7

fruit

Groceries

5/29/2020

$805

student loans

Debt

5/30/2020

$33

dinner

Entertainment

5/30/2020

$50

Uber’s

Transportation/Car Insurance

5/31/2020

$35

dinner

Entertainment

6/1/2020

$100

Donation to Chicago Community Bond Fund

Donation

6/2/2020

$1,419

rent

Home

6/3/2020

$80

groceries

Groceries

6/3/2020

$120

support black business

Personal

6/5/2020

$400.00

keyboard

keyboard

6/5/2020

$100.00

flight to DC for march on washington

travel

6/6/2020

$10.00

Wine

Dating

6/6/2020

$20.00

lyft

Transportation

6/6/2020

$11.00

donation

Donation

6/7/2020

$43.00

Groceries

Groceries

6/8/2020

$300.00

student loans

debt

6/10/2020

$111.00

cell phone

Utilities/Cell Phone

6/10/2020

$23.00

nicor

Utilities/Cell Phone

6/10

$170.00

bachelorette

travel

6/11/2020

$270.00

hotel for march

travel

6/12/2020

$8.00

concealer

Personal

6/10/2020

$30.00

groceries for dinner date

Dating

6/10/2020

$30.00

groceries for dinner date

Groceries

6/13/2020

$21.00

drinks

Entertainment

6/14/2020

$30.00

dental chews

dog

6/4/2020

$20.00

Shirt

Personal

6/14/2020

$62.00

Indian food

Dating

6/15/2020

$7.00

Dad’s day

Personal

6/15/2020

$44.00

comcast

Utilities/Cell Phone

6/15/2020

$9.00

renter’s insurance

Renter’s Insurance

6/17/2020

$87.00

groceries

Groceries

6/17/2020

$25.00

beer

Entertainment

6/17/2020

$25.87

comed

Utilities/Cell Phone

6/20/2020

$32

care package

Dating

6/20/2020

$30

tacos

Entertainment

6/21/2020

$18

dessert

Entertainment

6/22/2020

$97

supplies for paintings

Clo Bare

6/23/2020

$28

ice cream, chips and tofu

Groceries

6/24/2020

$90

zipcar membership

Transportation

6/25/2020

$25

handsoap bulk

Personal

6/26/2020

$25

groceries for cookout

Entertainment

6/26/2020

$48

Aldi

Groceries

6/26/2020

$30

dinner

Dating

6/26/2020

$24

lyft

Transportation

6/27/2020

$30

2 ubers

Transportation

6/27/2020

$1,005

student loans

Debt

6/28/2020

$20

program

Health/medical

6/28/2020

$32

chinese

Groceries

6/29/2020

$42

thundershirt

dog

6/29/2020

$16

Mascara

Personal

7/1/2020

$1,419

rent

Home

7/1/2020

$362

Donation to BLM from I Can’t Budget Workshop

Donation

7/2/2020

$121

United ticket for syd’s bachelorette

Travel

7/2/2020

$10

white claw

Entertainment

Total Spent May 2020: $6078

Total Spent June 2020: $5,361

Total Debt as of 7/7: $36,116

Savings: 

  • 401(k): $49,722
  • Real Estate Investment: $36,000
  • Savings Account: $9,000
  • Total Savings: $94,722

Total Net Worth: $58,606

BAH. So much spending but look at how those savings numbers have JUMPED in the last two months. Back in April, my net worth was $41k and my total savings was only $79k. Because of the market increase, bumping my 401(k) contribution up to 25% and paying down debt– my net worth increased almost $17k in just two months.

Read April 2020 Spending Report: Adjusting Your Budget Due to Life Changes.

 

Pretty damn cool, eh? Oh, the power of investing when the market is down.

Goals, Goals, Goals

Now, I feel good about where I’m headed especially after seeing that increase in my net worth, but how did I do on the goals I set for myself way back in May?

Goals I Set for May 2020

    1. Spend LESS on my birthday this year. So May is my birthday, but I don’t want to go too crazy like I did last year when I spent $700 on my birthday (I love myself, sue me). Plus I adopted a dog, moved into my own apartment this year, bought a TV, and bought a bunch of rugs. While those I’m counting as Home costs, I’ve spent enough.DONE. I didn’t spend $700 on shit this year. Instead, I spent way more than $700 on a dog, rugs, and things I actually needed. HA, take THAT budget.
    2. Save another $1.5k for my emergency fund. Hopefully even more. Because I’d like to get back to paying off my debt. If I put another $2k, then I’ll have $7,400 which is at least three months of savings which is a decent.- DONE. Ya girl has $9k saved which is more than 3 months of emergency expenses.     
    3. NO SPEND MONTH. From May 5th to June 5th I’ll be hosting my very own no spend month where I will eliminate all unnecessary spending. I’ve been doing it now for four days and it’s going strong. If you want to join in, follow me at clo_bare on Instagram for daily check-ins. — I did it. I sucked at it. But I did it.

Goals for July 2020

  1. Stop eating out when you’re home alone. I mean, come on, dude. That’s not an experience. Cook something yummy instead. Don’t fall back into that bad habit. Save those special treats for when you’re grabbing dinner with your dude or when your sister comes into town. 
  2. Put another $2k on debt and see about refinancing your loans for a lower rate. I currently have an interest rate of 4.75% on my loans. I’d like to get that down to about 3%. We’ll see if I’m able to get anywhere close to that. It’ll save me a few thousand dollars, which may not seem like that much, but if someone were to ask me if I wanted a free $3k today, I’d take it. So why not refinance?
  3. Stop spending so much on transportation. I bought a Zipcar membership because for certain trips, getting a Zipcar will be less expensive than ubering both ways. To be determined yet how valuable the Zipcar membership is for me, but it’s only about $100 a year plus the cost to drive when I rent a car. Might be a ripoff, but I figure I’d give it a try for when I want to go to the forest preserve or lake with Logan (my dog). Priorities. I got a Zipcar membership so I can take my dog on fun walks. That’s something I value, even though transportation definitely isn’t. So we’ll see what happens. I’m going to keep track of how often I use the membership and how much money it saved me by not using Uber or Lyft.
No Spend Month

TLDR: No Spend Month was Mildly Successful

Too long, didn’t read? Here’s what we covered:

  • No Spend Month was mildly successful– I spent about $2.5k less than an average month but failed at not spending money on take-out. Also gave BLM all my money. Not mad.
  • My net worth jumped up nearly $17k in the last two months thanks to increasing my 401(k) contribution (25% baby!) and the market doing better.

You Turn: Would you do a No Spend Month?

Tell me about your experiences or share this post and tag me to tell me what you thought! Have you done a No Spend Month? What was it like? Would you ever do a no spend month or week or day? Drop your questions in the comments below and I’ll be sure to respond. 

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How No Spend Months Can Help You Reset Your Spending
No Spend Month
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No Spend Month & May + June Spending Reports
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No Spend Month & May + June Spending Reports
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No spend months can help reset your spending and get back on track with your budgeting and personal finance goals.
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Clo Bare
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