Lessons Learned From My No Spend November Experience

Everything To Know About A No Spend Month.jpg

Prep:

I did three major things in preparation for my no spend month. Made a plan, made a budget, and created my reasons why I am doing this challenge to encourage me and guide my purchases. Below is in detail what I came up with; as well as a PRINTABLE! I created to use next time I try this challenge.

Make a plan: My plan was to make space and time for others things and to reboot my life by changing my shopping habits. For me it feels like shopping for things that I need and want have been slowly creeping in and creating huge time drains. Yes, even for things I need because even though I need them often times I don’t need them NOW. I felt like a no spend month is a great way to refocus my perspective on minimalism and living simple. My purpose for this no spend month is to shift my focuses from spending money and accomplishing the goals below.

Goals:

  1. My Kids: Spending more quality time with them instead of feeling guilty that I am not. Being more serious and intentional about homeschooling. I had a season of frustration and overwhelm with homeschooling and decided to take a break from it. But what was supposed to be a few days of research and reflection turned into a month vacation. Really with homeschooling there is just a learning curb I just needed to work through. So this month I want to focus on overcoming what is getting in the way to be more present and focused on their education.

  2. Sewing: There are some projects I would like to at least start and some that I need to finish. I would really like to make a slip for my black floral lace dress so that I can actually wear it. I tried finding one at the thrift store with no luck and I would really like to wear it before it gets too cold! Also I would like to make a matching gold velvet bodysuit for my daughter and I as well as sew a gift (a dress) for my friends daughters birthday.

  3. Painting: I have two paintings I would like to do/complete during this time. One is simple and the other is a bit more complex so I am hoping this is a reasonable goal. I also want to build my skill in watercolors and make it a regular, if not daily, practice.

  4. Blogging: Catch up on some much needed blog posts! I have been so frustrated with how slow my progress had been to grow in my journey. My goal is to work up to having 2 blog post out month. Seems reasonable right?

Going into this challenge I need to remind myself that these are just goals. Not laws. Not something to get stressed or overwhelmed about if I don’t accomplish them. But they are to see what I have more time to do when I am not spending my time spending. They are guidelines to help me focus my time on being productive and more intentional with my time. Part of my prep was also giving myself a bit of a pep talk that went something like this- “Okay (insert name here) you can do this. I mean it’s not a big deal. I mean it is because you want to do well and succeed and it’s important to you but not such a big deal where you are going to over think and stress yourself out over this to the point where you want to give up a few days in. Right? Right! You got this. Just take one little day at a time. Have a plan and do your best.”

Slow and steady wins the race.
— Aesop
Patience is bitter, but it’s fruit is sweet.
— Aristotle

Make a budget: Having a budget really comes in handy for this challenge. I took out everything that wasn’t utility, or a need, and left everything else out to create my budget for this month. They only category I needed to still keep track of was groceries which I separated into 4 weeks. This was really simple and easy for me since I go grocery shopping weekly but could be easily separated into a bi-weekly thing if you go grocery shopping every other week. Super simple right? (P.S. Below is the printable I made based on things I learned to better set you guys up for success if you decide to do a no spend month. Your welcome.)

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Find your why? Why ARE you doing this? Are you exercising not spending in general to create more of a habit? Do you have a goal of saving money? How much is your goal and how often do you need to do these no spend months to reach it? For me the goal is not only to be more focused on my kids and to refocus on my outlook on spending as mentioned above but to save money after an overspending month (October) to recuperated costs, figure out ways to save more in the future, and have more wiggle room for some Christmas/Birthday gifts at the end of December. I have this list of why’s on the ready so that when I want to quit or struggle with this no spend month I can remind myself why I am doing this in the first place.

After my prep I made sure to take note of each week and how it went for me. I didn’t really take note of every little thing that affected my budget but I took note of the major aspects so I could look back and learn from the experience.

Week 1: So far in my first week I don’t mind not spending. Update: I lied. A little (that didn’t take long). On day 7 I was feeling really good until I remembered there was a women’s conference that I really wanted to go to on Friday and Saturday. Then on the same day I saw that Everlane jeans were on sale for only $50!!! And then on top of that other little things that required a trip to the store kept popping up. While, I don’t enjoy not being able to get the jeans or go to the conference it’s also been nice to reflect on my feelings of missing out. It is a definitely a personal struggle for me to continue towards a goal once I feel that I am going to be missing out on opportunities or being apart of something. I am learning that it is okay to sometimes “miss out” to accomplish the bigger picture goal and that it’s also a balance between being present and being patient.

everlane jeans sale.jpg


Week 2: This week I REALLY needed to continue to remind myself of my goals and why it is important to stick with it! A real life saver for me was the library. My kids love books and it’s a great place to spend sometime for free no matter what the weather is like. The library is pretty much a second home to me at this point so I really could go everyday and not be mad about it to be honest. I also started catching up on cleaning as well which is nice. I like a clean house but I’m not really in love with cleaning. Just me? Some really good advice that I heard recently is to do 1 minute tasks right away that way it doesn’t build up and it’s quick and easy to do (@theeverco). So here I was minding my own business on week 2, cleaning my house and going to the library, when I kept seeing fabric sales on Instragram. Seriously IG. I still have fabric that I need to use up….but I could make en exception for this sale right!? Spoiler alert: I was good and didn’t buy the fabric. I feel like I should get some kind of reward every time I didn’t spend money this month when I really wanted to. Like a cookie. One warm GF chocolate chip cookie. Sounds fair to me.

P.S. I made those mittens from an old sweater I had. Another sewing project I accomplished this month! (Even though it’s a small project) Where’s my cookie?

P.S. I made those mittens from an old sweater I had. Another sewing project I accomplished this month! (Even though it’s a small project) Where’s my cookie?

The Semi Minimalist Magnolia Table Breakfast.jpeg
The Semi Minimalist Magnolia Table Oatmeal.jpeg

Week 3: Speaking of rewarding myself with treats I seem to also fall into a pit hole of going out to eat! Like going out to eat is just a NO for this month not to mention it’s a big money drain in general. But have you guys tried a Twisted Root Burger Co here in Waco!? It’s literally, hands down, the best burger that I have ever eaten. And one morning I straight up just didn’t want to cook breakfast and went to Magnolia table and waited 1.5 for a food because I thought it through and didn’t even bother to show up early to beat the crowd. Yup. See above for proof. This is in addition to food spent on Pepper’s birthday in the first week of November and planning to spend additional (outside of the normal grocery budget) for Thanksgiving dinner and going to the Annual Homestead Heritage Fair. Yup. I totally thought all of this through. Needless to say really drained what I was hoping to save for this month.

If you are eating ice cream and it isn’t all over your face and clothes than are you even eating ice cream?

If you are eating ice cream and it isn’t all over your face and clothes than are you even eating ice cream?

Week 4: I feel like this last week is recovering from Thanksgiving and just trying to do as little as possible to save a teeny tiny bit over our usual savings at this point. So far it isn’t looking super promising but I haven’t given up yet. Full disclosure: I also started buying a few gifts for Christmas. While I do not recommend doing this in practice I have decided to place these purchases into Decembers budget. Makes more sense that if they are Christmas presents that they should go in the December budget. What do you think? I decided to only buy a few things and everything else will just have to wait until December. My mindset was to take advantage of Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals. I have a feeling that the “deals” will be running for the entire month of December and I could have waited to buy them. Update 27NOV18: As predicted the pajamas I purchased on Black Friday are still on sale! But I will say that the prayer journals I bought for the kids were not. So I would say that smaller businesses are more real about there sales while bigger companies have sales almost all the time and you really aren’t missing out. You live and you learn I guess. And speaking of learning…

Lessons Learned for the Month:

  1. This no spend month has really been a great exercise in realize that we aren’t truly missing out. If you look closely, especially at bigger companies, there is ALWAYS a sale. It is just part of their marketing campaign to constantly coming out with new products and then make you feel a sense of urgency for possibly missing out on the product. Now that I am more aware of this it actually annoys me and makes me not want to go shopping at all (not to mention the unethical practices used by most but that’s another story).

  2. Another major lesson I learned is to plan on doing another no spend month during a month that isn’t on a holiday where you are typically spending more (November and December) unless your goal is to not buy gifts or host a Thanksgiving dinner or have a birthday party for you daughter at the beginning of that month. As long as you don’t plan on doing any of those things a no spend November or December you should be good.

  3. Find a better solution to not eating out. Maybe for me for next time I will plan on making a GF pizza that the kids can eat. Or even make hamburgers and french fries. We could also make a cookies (cause Mama needs her reward cookies) instead of feeling the need to go out for a treat. This might be something I add to the grocery budget but still something that will really save me more in the long run for the month.

  4. It takes practice! While I did not make the monetary goal I was hoping for I really did learn so much for the next time I do this challenge. Really I shouldn’t have expected to do it perfectly the first time around. Something like a no spend month, for me at least, is a big lifestyle change and take practice to get it just right.


Did I accomplish my goals?

My Kids: Through this challenge I am feeling more confident in homeschooling at my kids personal level and removing frustration with information they might not be ready for yet. I have become a bit more laid back in the approach since this first year is more about laying the foundation and encouraging them to love to learn and foster curiosity. While I do planned subjects we also learned about some child led subjects this month; which were listening and the ear anatomy, the days of the week, and .

Sewing: I finished the slip for my dress. the gloves for my kids, and a sweater shirt for daughter as well as finished some much needed underwear for her. I didn’t end up sewing the dress or the velvet bodysuit but they are still on my list of things I would like to sew in the future.

Another blog on just this dress will be coming soon!

Another blog on just this dress will be coming soon!

For how simple these were suppose to be these turned out to be super challenging. Pretty much murphe’s law was at work during the making of these fleece tops. I still have to hem Wesley’s but after that they both will be done!

For how simple these were suppose to be these turned out to be super challenging. Pretty much murphe’s law was at work during the making of these fleece tops. I still have to hem Wesley’s but after that they both will be done!

Painting: I really had a lot of fun letting the kids paint on the big canvas I had. I would love to do this with them again. I also would consider watercolor a more regular practice in my home and I can see some improvement this month as well which, honestly, makes me feel really good! Some finished work and practice below.

I even let the kids get involved. They had so much fun. I would love to paint with them with “adult” paint more in the future.

I even let the kids get involved. They had so much fun. I would love to paint with them with “adult” paint more in the future.

The Semi-Minimalist Wreath Watercolor.jpeg
The Semi-Minimalist No Spend November Watercolor.jpg

Blogging: Created and completed this blog. Done! I will also need to create at least one more blog this December to reach my goal.

So what do you guys think? Would you try a no spend month? I love what a fun challenge it was for me and how much I learned throughout the process. I will definitely be trying this challenge again in the future. And if you have any tips for when I attempt this challenge again I would love to see them in the comments below.

Love,

The Semi-Minimalist