My No Spend Month – January 2021

I have never done a no spend anything really but after reading ‘The No Spend Year’ by Michelle McGagh which I picked up earlier this year from the library I have been inspired to do something similar. I am not sure if I could commit to a whole year, but a month definitely seems doable!! During the no spend year, Michelle saved a whopping £22k which is just amazing. And If I had the same success as her I would really be debt free! Wow, just wow!!

My Why

I have a little under £20k to pay off before I am completely debt free with my original plan being to be debt free by the end of this year, so I thought I would start 2021 with a no spend January to give me a great start on the year. Who knows, if it goes ok, I may keep going.

The plan is to reduce/stop altogether the frivolous spending I do on takeaways, Amazon, over budget spends on birthdays, Christmas, days out etc. I want to not only keep a strict budget but take the time to find fun things to do without spending any money. I want to break the cycle of wanting stuff and start to live a more minimalistic, financially secure life.

I want to get time back time with my family and am even hoping to learn new recipes and batch cook meals instead of eating the same food all the time or having takeaways. I have never done anything like this before but since I started my blog and my Instagram account https://www.instagram.com/themoneywisemum/ I can see it’s really helping to keep me accountable whilst I am on my journey towards financial freedom. Not only that, its great to have the community of like-minded people around you.

Rules

I need some rules for my no spend month as I will still be paying normal fixed debits like gas, electric and rent and will have a strict unbreakable budget for all the variable type spending like food and petrol. Some other items I will continue to pay is my daughters clubs because I don’t want her to go without and in the last year all her clubs stopped or went online so if we have any normality next year, I’d like her to continue doing some of the things she loves. I will also still be paying for Sky but only because I am stuck in the contract for the next 12 months.

Rule 1 – No spending on ANYTHING outside the budget

Rule 2 – Kinda falls in with rule 1, but NO TAKEAWAYS

Rule 3 – Budget for the month to be posted on my blog by 1st January for accountability purposes with an actual spend being posted by 1st Feb

I have made my no spend challenge tracker and will now spend the few days sorting my budget, finding some batch cooking recipes and looking at any fun things we can do over the next month. If your thinking of trying something like this, let’s do it together!

Why I put Christmas On A Credit Card This Year!

I know you must be thinking I have gone crazy, and maybe I have, but bear with me while I explain myself!

For years and years, I have never really known the true cost of Christmas, I mean does anyone? Even now with my budget I still find myself spending a little bit here and there and with starting Christmas shopping early in the year I always forget what I have brought and end up buying more for people than I had originally budgeted for.

This year I wanted to do something different. My amount saved for Christmas was £500 which I saved for by saving £50 per month from January, which I transferred to my credit card. I have then used the credit card for EVERYTHING to do with Christmas; Cards, presents, decorations, wrapping paper, food – you name it, if it’s been brought for Christmas, it’s gone on the card!

This may be the worst thing I could have done, but I need to know exactly how much I usually spend!

I have done this for two reasons, so that;

1) Future budgets incorporate ALL the costs of Christmas and,

2) To allow me to be more aware of what I am spending

I have bought for everyone I wanted to buy for this year but things that sometimes trip me up is last minute December bargains; cheap wrapping paper, cards, gifts that have been packaged just for Christmas that you can’t buy all year round, Christmas jumpers and ‘party’ wear. Also, Christmas events that you can’t really plan for as you don’t really know what companies are going to put on.

So, to be completely transparent I have listed all my payments made and received to my credit card since I started to use it for Christmas and who it was that I brought for.

It actually looks really scary! But here goes;

21/11 – Payment £-76.76

22/11 – Festive Studio £12.50 (Elf resources)

23/11 – Payment £-35.46

24/11 – Amazon £82.94 (Candy lights for outside, indoor lights, daughter gifts, book, window snowflakes)

25/11 – Asda refund £-17.00

26/11 – Etsy £4.70 (elf masks)

27/11 – Amazon £20.05 (Elf resources)

29/11 – Amazon £57.71 (Nephew’s gifts)

2/12 – Amazon £109.06 (daughter top, mum, trainers and book, scrunchies, me CD and hair conditioner)

3/12 – Amazon £73.90 (Brothers gift, 2 x books for my xmas gift and top for daughter)

3/12 – Amazon refund £-5.24

5/12 – Amazon £25.94 (Bestie gifts)

7/12 – Amazon £85.91 (Dad, Dad’s wife and Brother and Nana & Gramps gifts)

7/12 – Amazon £73.60 (Xmas packaging and choc – packaging was returned)

7/12 – Amazon £24.96 (Gifts for Great Nana)

8/12 – Amazon £12.99 (Grandparents book from Sophie)

9/12 – Amazon £14.72 (Mums present)

9/12 – Payment £500.00

11/12 – Amazon £42.59 (Mums husband)

11/12 – Amazon £36.97 (Gift for Dad and one for daughter)

12/12 – Amazon £46.46 (outside lights for house and outside tree)

14/12 – Amazon £18.98 (Onesie for daughter, car phone holder for me, xmas tree skirt for tree)

14/12 – Amazon £7.92 (Elf Resources)

15/12 – Pets at Home £24.50 (Dog and cats xmas presents)

16/12 – Amazon refund £-4.01

16/12 – Amazon refund £-49.95

16/12 – Game £354.98 (daughters main xmas present)

16/12 – Argos £102.96 (daughters main xmas present)

16/12 – Pets at Home £27.00 (dog xmas groom)

16/12 – Pets at Home £15.00 (dog xmas groom deposit)

16/12 – Amazon £49.61 (Daughter and Dad)

16/12 – Post Office £33.20 (Posting cards and gifts)

16/12 – River Island £40.00 (daughter xmas party dress)

16/12 – Next £10.00 (mum xmas plate present)

17/12 – Argos Refund £-24.99

18/12 – Petrol Station £24.00 (Teachers wine)

Ok, so not going to lie, this list is a shock. I know I have made a huge mistake and it makes me really sad to see all the gifts I have brought with no thought to my budget or my finances. I spent a total amount of £1433.15 against a budget of £500 so that’s £933.15 over budget!!!!

Let me just say that again … That’s £933.15 OVER BUDGET!

I know that’s really bad but considering all that badness, the lessons I have learnt in doing this are huge.

Firstly, I have learnt that the £500 budget I set was only just enough to cover the cost of my daughter’s presents and not everything else which I buy for. Not sure why I have done it like this, but I am guessing I did it because hers is my biggest and most important expense at Christmas, so I always make sure I have got enough for her.

And secondly, very stupidly I have realised that I need a budget for everything else! What I spent on house lights and elf on the shelve resources wasn’t even in the budget and yet that’s £150 not accounted for!!

Let’s just say lots of lessons learnt!!

Lesson 1 – I have made an excel spreadsheet for a complete budget for Christmas with EVERYTHING on

Lesson 2 – I am going to increase the monthly debit to my Christmas sinking fund from £50 a month to £84 to cover for everything I need, plus a little extra just in case. This will give me an overall budget of £1000.

Maybe this wasn’t the best idea but I really want to understand myself financially and this exercise has allowed me to see all my many weaknesses in spending, organisation and planning so this is something I can now use to improve myself. And I will. The credit card definitely has no place when your trying to pay off debt and work within a budget.

Thanks for reading

Heidi x