No Spend November With the Grasshoppers

No Spend November sounded like an awesome idea until I realized the spending freeze would coincide with my birthday and Thanksgiving. Well poop!

On the other hand, go big or go home, right? Also, the Grasshoppers are planning a winter road trip to visit family, and this month-long spending freeze will make us feel better about any money we spend during that trip.

For all of my readers who are scrambling to get a foothold on the concept of No Spend November: It is a whole month where you avoid spending any of your paycheck/take-home pay on anything other than the essentials. You get to define “essentials” as broadly or as narrowly as you like, but the Grasshoppers are going to keep it pretty narrow.

The Essentials

We will of course need to buy groceries. We do so at Aldi, which should keep the costs down. We also buy Baby G’s essentials (diapers and such) from Aldi, so the costs there are also minimal compared to my former Pampers habit.

Mr. Grasshopper and I recently discovered an app called Google Keep https://www.google.com/keep/. It allows us to create lists and share them with each other in real-time. We use this to “collaborate” on a grocery list throughout the week. For no spend November, we will limit our groceries to no more than $80 per week, and ONLY buy the things we put on the grocery list. If it isn’t there, it will not be purchased. Between the self-imposed limit, and Keep, we ought to be able to severely limit our “essential” purchases.

Another “essential” I will not be foregoing during this month are my work outs with my personal trainer. Although I could technically cut all work outs with her this month and save even more, I fear that I would end up not exercising at all, and that’s simply not worth it. So, the trainer stays.

Preparation

A lot of folks on the Interweb who are planning to embark on this challenge are into heavy prep mode. In my mind, that is a little bit like cheating. What’s the fun in No Spend November if you entertain your greedy little desires just before the big game begins? Building up the stores in your pantry in anticipation of the month of self-imposed extreme frugality is also an end run around the obstacle course IMHO.

For example, I have  purposely avoided buying any groceries (other than milk, eggs, and bread) in the past to challenge myself to clean out the larder. It wouldn’t be any fun if I cheated by buying extra stuff the week before the challenge. The fun – and the creativity – comes from figuring out how you can feed your family with nothing but that lonesome can of tuna and pasta when all other options are exhausted.

Birthday Alternatives

What makes No Spend November especially challenging for this Grasshopper is the fact that it coincides with my birthday, and Thanksgiving.

Free stock photo of food, bakery, ceremony, baking
Happy Birthday to MEEEE!

As you may know from my prior posts, I am not expecting any birthday gifts from Mr. Grasshopper this year. Instead, I asked him to roll my birthday/Christmas/Anniversary gifts into one neat ball and give me a predetermined amount of cash. I will “gift” him the exact same amount of cash for his birthday/Christmas/Anniversary present. It’s the thought that counts really 🙂 I have already donated the sum he gifted me to my favorite charity, and simultaneously scratched my itch to “do good.” But, a girl does not live by gifts alone and I was rather looking forward to a special day with Mr. Grasshopper as a birthday treat.

When you’re the parent of a toddler, a “special day” tends to include the cost of a babysitter. In my mind’s eye, my birthday treat included going out for dinner, and maybe a movie with Mr. Grasshopper. But after some thought, I realized that we might have a special afternoon instead of a special evening. Since Baby G is already in daycare during the day, Mr. Grasshopper and I will leave work early to cook lunch together at home. After that, we can snuggle up to watch a movie on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video http://amzn.to/2eZ4vaN. Babysitter conundrum solved! I also plan to cook my own birthday cake from scratch, which I am very excited about. An egg allergy tends to make my attempts at baking desserts akin to science experiments. Stay tuned for mayhem.

Thanksgiving

A slightly more sticky situation is the holidays with family where we are called on to contribute to the communal pot. We will have to drive about two and a half hours to visit Mr. Grasshopper’s family for the holiday. Thankfully that means that his sister will host, and I will supply the elbow grease. Since elbow grease always comes cheap, I can happily contribute my no-cost labor to the communal pot.

Lunch table / salad

I am excited to see what the month holds in store for us. We tend to be relatively frugal, but I wonder what belts we can tighten when we really put our mind to it.

Don’t forget to let me know how you plan to creatively tackle No Spend November.

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