Author Topic: Low Spendtember  (Read 4019 times)

monstermonster

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Low Spendtember
« on: September 01, 2016, 07:14:14 PM »
Hey all, we all had SO MUCH FUN with low-spend August that we're doing it again! (and some people may have failed and wanted a second chance ;). This is a less badass version of a no-spend challenge. Who wants to join?

Here are the rules: this challenge can be a self-defined low-spend.  This needs to be something that is a significant stretch for you to accomplish and is based off the assumption that you currently spend money on non-essentials.
  • You pick a budget amount that's more than 15% below your normal monthly spend and is a true stretch for you.
  • You need to set the budget amount in the beginning of the month.
  • You can't go outside of your normal budget the month before or after in order to "make up" for low-spend.
  • Ideally, you pick what you will use the extra savings towards (debt repayment, investing, extra house payment.)
  • You have a plan for how you will accomplish the low spend month - no just "winging" it.

If you post your goal, I'll put it on this tracking post. Check out Low-Spend August for examples from last month.

Participants
Classical_Liberal: Total spending <$700, 90% SR
MonsterMonster: Total spending <$1100 (excluding health insurance)
« Last Edit: September 01, 2016, 07:19:34 PM by monstermonster »

Classical_Liberal

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2016, 07:17:29 PM »
Oooooo, I get to be the first one!

I'm in! I want to keep my expenses below $700 for the month to hit a 90% SR.  Last month I failed, but cut from $1300 to about $850.  I've picked up a couple of new tricks and think I can make it this time!  Bring it on & good luck to all!

Edit:  Plan to cut the extra fat:  1)Eat a minimum of 1 out of 3 meals using the free breakfast/happy hour treats provided by my hotel. 2) Last month I blew too much on dates.  This month any dates will be free-type activities with a max spend of $50 total.  3)My gas tank is 3/4 full, cut back on driving so it'll last the whole month!
« Last Edit: September 01, 2016, 08:37:23 PM by Classical_Liberal »

alewpanda

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2016, 08:29:41 PM »
So, this sounds bad, but bear with me -- we're just starting our Mustachainism

Our budget has to balance this month.  Thats the goal.  We are bulk purchasing half a cow from local farmers that will help us cut down on our grocery bills substantially for the months following.  This is part of trying to lower our average monthly expenses and be able to start investing/paying off debt.  We will bring in about 4000, and about 1500 of that will have to cover the beef.  Our normal budget barely leaves 1000 (if that) for savings/investing/repairs/unexpected expenses.  So instead of saving anything, our goal is to ONLY spend the 4000....including the expenses of the cow.  This will keep us from digging into the few thousand we do have saved, and get us on a good start to reducing expenses every month!

We have created a budget that allows this to happen.  Unfortunately, our 6 month car insurance is due this month also, so really we will have to live/pay bills/ect on about 2000.  This isn't impossible, but on our current expense levels, it won't be easy. 

Our plan for making this happen:

1.  Follow the budget to the T or less. 
2. Bring in some extra income if possible so that some buffer can still be tucked away (we have some items on facebook sites, ebay, ect.)
3. Eat down the fridge and pantry.  I recently jumped into the "Eat everything in the house" thread....I will be spending only on bare essentials for the kitchen.
4. Don't eat out, dont thrift, don't buy clothes, don't buy "stuff".
5. Call Internet provider for lower rate; already called auto insurance and have decreased rate there.

I *think* this is feasible.....

clarkai

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2016, 08:58:59 PM »
I'm house sitting right now, so I'll post when I'm back with my laptop and budget file tomorrow!

icegirl

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2016, 03:50:13 AM »
We are saving up for a downpayment on an apartment, so I'm going to try this :) I'm not including rent, utilities and insurance, as these are difficult to cut on (we don't have the heat on yet and we already save on electricity where we can).

Our monthly budget for food, gas and fun is 720$ so this month we are keeping it under 600$.

The cut comes from biking to work 3 times a week, only eating out twice, having dinner at the in-laws once a week and eating from the freezer/pantry.

We are piling the extra into our savings account.

asauer

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2016, 05:43:24 AM »
In for this one.  We nearly always have a super low September budget b/c October is SO fun around here that we want to do all the things!  So having a low September gives us a little extra for oct.  I'm going to micromanage my spending in my bullet journal.

alewpanda

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2016, 09:47:11 AM »
So, this sounds bad, but bear with me -- we're just starting our Mustachainism

Our budget has to balance this month.  Thats the goal.  We are bulk purchasing half a cow from local farmers that will help us cut down on our grocery bills substantially for the months following.  This is part of trying to lower our average monthly expenses and be able to start investing/paying off debt.  We will bring in about 4000, and about 1500 of that will have to cover the beef.  Our normal budget barely leaves 1000 (if that) for savings/investing/repairs/unexpected expenses.  So instead of saving anything, our goal is to ONLY spend the 4000....including the expenses of the cow.  This will keep us from digging into the few thousand we do have saved, and get us on a good start to reducing expenses every month!

We have created a budget that allows this to happen.  Unfortunately, our 6 month car insurance is due this month also, so really we will have to live/pay bills/ect on about 2000.  This isn't impossible, but on our current expense levels, it won't be easy. 

Our plan for making this happen:

1.  Follow the budget to the T or less. 
2. Bring in some extra income if possible so that some buffer can still be tucked away (we have some items on facebook sites, ebay, ect.)
3. Eat down the fridge and pantry.  I recently jumped into the "Eat everything in the house" thread....I will be spending only on bare essentials for the kitchen.
4. Don't eat out, dont thrift, don't buy clothes, don't buy "stuff".
5. Call Internet provider for lower rate; already called auto insurance and have decreased rate there.

I *think* this is feasible.....

Extra Income brought in to be deposited today:
20.00 babysitting gig last night
36.00 from selling household stuff on facebook sites
0.50 from rolling pennies
1.40 check from insurance overcharge

Total by day 2 of September: 57.90

andy85

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2016, 10:19:05 AM »
I want to join but i have 2 big issues this month: 1) vacation, 2) paying off my car

1) I plan on spending $600 on vacation (hopefully on the high side)
2) I plan on spending $1,706 to pay my car loan off
Total: $2,306

All other spending I would like to be $1,575...this includes mortgage,  utilities, food, etc etc..

So, $1,575 not counting vacation and car loan payoff....can that be a thing?

monstermonster

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2016, 10:20:45 AM »
I want to join but i have 2 big issues this month: 1) vacation, 2) paying off my car

1) I plan on spending $600 on vacation (hopefully on the high side)
2) I plan on spending $1,706 to pay my car loan off
Total: $2,306

All other spending I would like to be $1,575...this includes mortgage,  utilities, food, etc etc..

So, $1,575 not counting vacation and car loan payoff....can that be a thing?

You can do that however you like- it's your own challenge to define! Also paying off secured debt can be considered "savings" anyway!

chesebert

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2016, 10:26:41 AM »
Not sure how this is possible for a number of folks here as we are all trying to meet the minimum spending for the new chase card...

monstermonster

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2016, 10:31:15 AM »
Not sure how this is possible for a number of folks here as we are all trying to meet the minimum spending for the new chase card...
I'm probably going to do that with 1) paying my rent on the card via square cash and 2) trying to grow my side business to book a few speaking gigs where the flights will be reimbursed therefore not count towards my personal expenses and 3) buying a laptop for my new job that will be reimbursed

clarkai

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2016, 12:19:39 PM »
This month, I'm not including fixed costs in the budget (eg, rent, health insurance, etc), but will be focusing on a few key areas.

First off, food. Our spending in this category varies a lot, and is very high when I'm not watching it. It's been as high as $600/month at times, for two adults! Goal this month is $220. I'm getting a CSA this month, which accounts for $30/week, or $120 for the month. That leaves $100 for grains, legumes, oils, spices, peanut butter and so forth. I'm going to continue getting free fruit from neighborhood trees, but that's going to be harder to fit in as I start teaching on the 7th. Speaking of teaching, one of the things I'm doing this year to make it easier on myself is to have an "emergency" stash of food, to be kept at school for those days when I didn't pack enough lunch or didn't pack a lunch at all. So far, I've got slightly less than 10 lbs of potatoes ('cause I already ate two), olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt. These are all things that either don't go bad, or go bad slowly enough that I'll eat them down before they go.

A second category is house stuff. We moved, and we don't have any furniture for the living room, and our dining room table could use a few more chairs. I've been putting it off, but more out of laziness than cheapness. I'll be looking to get these used, obviously, so I'm hoping to spend very little money.

Transport will be another category that will be needing some attention. The rainy season has started, and I'd like some rain pants, lights, gloves, and to tune up my bike since I'm either biking or walking to school every day this year. I don't think I'll be getting this stuff used, but I may.

So, with that said, here's the budget of non-fixed items:

Water/Garbage:   120
Electricity:   120
Food: 220
Pets:   30
Household stuff:   100
Transport:   450? (I honestly don't have any idea, and this will be for both bikes.)
Misc.   50

Total: $1090. Let's see how low we can go!


ETA: Saved money will be allocated to the down payment savings account, which doesn't exist yet.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2016, 03:26:50 PM by clarkai »

TheAnonOne

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2016, 02:45:36 PM »
I want to join but i have 2 big issues this month: 1) vacation, 2) paying off my car

1) I plan on spending $600 on vacation (hopefully on the high side)
2) I plan on spending $1,706 to pay my car loan off
Total: $2,306

All other spending I would like to be $1,575...this includes mortgage,  utilities, food, etc etc..

So, $1,575 not counting vacation and car loan payoff....can that be a thing?

Is a mortgage and/or car payment really "Spending"? The spending happened when you bought the place, AND any monthly interest. Otherwise, I don't think you can really "Spend" $1,706 on your car and not have your networth fall (and it won't!)

I leave my mortgage out of my personal calculations, as A. it will be gone by the time I FIRE, and B. it doesn't drop my NW to make a payment.

akzidenz

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2016, 02:26:12 AM »
i'm in! my goal for september is $1,500.

my monthly average from april–august is $2,010…i started in april at $2,594 and have been steadily decreasing it, to the point where august was $1,322 thanks to the previous low-spend thread!

giving myself some buffer from august since i'll be traveling for a bit. it'll still be a challenge, since i'm not used to keeping discretionary spending this low and will constantly be distracted by sales and deals and shiny new things. i plan to spend labor day at home, decidedly away from any shopping centers.

extra money goes straight into my emergency fund.

Noodle

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2016, 10:59:35 PM »
This is a good challenge for me. It's been a tough year financially--property tax and utilities went up $200 a month this year, I spent the year taking care of all the repairs and replacements the previous owner of my condo had been ignoring, and my car needed repairs for the first time since I bought it. Plus somehow the relief of not saving for a downpayment anymore translated into way too much spendiness. Unfortunately I didn't find out about the latest expensive repair until after doing some spending this month, but my goal is to finish out the month with $460 discretionary spending (not counting all the regular bills like mortgage, HOA, etc).

I started out by cancelling my veggie box that I get every two weeks. I really only get it because of the summer produce (peaches, corn, tomatoes, etc.) that's not good from the grocery store--I don't like the winter produce as much and it tends to pile up and get wasted. Definitely planning to do some cupboard cooking but I haven't let stuff pile up as I did in my previous place so I don't have as deep a pantry to draw from.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2016, 11:02:47 PM by Noodle »

BeautifulDay

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #15 on: September 04, 2016, 09:22:58 AM »
I'm in for my misc spending (made up of several smaller categories including: groceries, entertainment, pet supplies, other shopping, cash). I really struggle with these. Not included are auto expenses, money to charity, insurance and other monthly expenses that are fixed.  These other expenses are under control and I consistently stay on track here or even spend less than planned.  Instead I'm going to focus on my weakest area. 

I budget $1030 for all of my misc expenses.  This is too high, but even worse I haven't been achieving my budget.  On average I spend $1444 in this area.

So...
  • stick to my plan and follow the budget
  • watch my eating out and instead cook more
  • watch our cash spending

Staying on budget means I can pay off our debt faster. 

If I stay on budget total my expenses will be $2053 and I'll put another $2800 on debt.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2016, 07:31:02 PM by BeautifulDay »

frooglepoodle

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #16 on: September 07, 2016, 05:09:36 AM »
It's late but I was on a low-Spendtember anyway so I'm jumping in. Somehow my addled brain thought that the car and renters insurance ($1100) would charge on October 1, but I was off by a month and hadn't budgeted enough money for it in YNAB yet.

My spending goal is to completely cash flow the $780 that I hadn't budgeted yet while still meeting our savings goals, or just under $2000. This is almost 25% lower than our spending last month (which was pretty typical).

Landlady

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #17 on: September 07, 2016, 12:25:46 PM »
I'm in even though I'm a little late and already had to buy a new washing machine for one of our rental units so I might be doomed already! Anyway, I'll still give this a shot.

1. My budget for Low Spendtember: $2,500. Normal budget is $3,000.
2. I'll use the extra savings toward an extra house payment.
3. I'll accomplish this by saving on groceries mainly, but I can also get by with less gas usage by biking.

As of today the 7th I've spend $1,298 which includes health insurance ($777) and that new washer ($453) to replace the broken down one. That leaves me with $1,202 for the remainder of the month. So fingers crossed that no more washing machines break down and I might be able to do it. :)

PerpetualWanderlust

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #18 on: September 07, 2016, 02:46:56 PM »
I'll be going for a monthly spending of $1,100. Considering my rent is 850, this should be a good test.

Classical_Liberal

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #19 on: September 13, 2016, 03:00:08 PM »
My halfway (almost) update:

I've already spent $537.53 out of my $700 budget.  This may look bad, but actually it's not too shabby.  All of my fixed monthly costs are paid, I have a house full of food and over a half tank of gas.  I'll probably have to buy $20 worth of fresh produce between now & the end of the month, but that's it.  That leaves at least a 140 bucks of walking around money left. 

Edit: for my horrible english skills.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2016, 03:01:42 PM by Classical_Liberal »

andy85

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #20 on: September 15, 2016, 07:25:46 AM »
Just checking in at the halfway point:

Goal:
$1,575 on normal spending

Currently at $1233.39, but all my utilities and mortgage has been paid. All i need is 2 more grocery trips, a tank of gas, get my car serviced, and maybe a few other small things. Should be doable with $341.61 remaining.

side note: another unforeseen (more like overlooked...because i knew it was coming) irregular expense is the $450 annual fee from the CSR credit card...soooo...there's that...

Landlady

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #21 on: September 15, 2016, 01:28:00 PM »
Goal: $2,500
Halfway mark: $1,700

I think we can do with $800 for the rest of the month easily. We are traveling but I already have airplane food to take with us and our lodging is with friends.
Likely we will have three more tanks of gas, two grocery trips to feed our hosts, diapers purchase and misc. hardware items needed for the demolition project we're doing on our trip. The kickers will be if we are forced to take a cab from the airport when we return and if we need to check luggage to get demolition tools on the plane.

andy85

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #22 on: September 23, 2016, 12:57:45 PM »
Just checking in at the halfway point:

Goal:
$1,575 on normal spending

Currently at $1233.39, but all my utilities and mortgage has been paid. All i need is 2 more grocery trips, a tank of gas, get my car serviced, and maybe a few other small things. Should be doable with $341.61 remaining.

side note: another unforeseen (more like overlooked...because i knew it was coming) irregular expense is the $450 annual fee from the CSR credit card...soooo...there's that...
checking in

Goal:
$1,575 on normal spending

Current normal spending is at $1,414.42, which leaves me $160.58 for the rest of the month. Should be easily doable. One grocery trip, a bottle of booze, and a tank of gas. I should have money to spare.

BUTTTTTT.....
My Irregular expenses will be something like:
$577 - Vacation
$1700 - Car payment (this will pay my car off 13 months ahead of schedule!!)
$450 - Chase Sapphire Reserve Annual Fee

....at least it is a 3 paycheck month. With all the irregular expenses along side the low spending in my "normal" budget categories, I will call this month a wash. October could be different since i wont have any irregular spending other than some cyclical stuff....like a $40/year fee for my gym and a $75 pest control fee (quarterly). My water bill will probably hit next month too (every 2 months).

clarkfan1979

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #23 on: September 24, 2016, 11:20:13 AM »
Challenge accepted.

Excluding our rental houses, our monthly budget is $4,700/month. This includes a student loan payment of $1,100/month. My actual payment is $240/month, but I am paying extra every month. Our budget for living expenses is $3,600/month (excluding student loans). If I calculate 15% of $3,600 it's $540.

Right now we are $1,020 under budget for the month. This means we have $480 left for the last 7 days and we can still be $540 under budget for the month. We got a little help from our landlord this month. He took off $200 of the monthly $1,100 rent because we were gone for the summer and didn't use any utilities. Because he pays for utilities in our lease agreement, he agreed to reimburse us for the utilities that we didn't use for 3 months.

We don't have a specific strategy for this month. However, my wife isn't going to have any income for Sept & Oct, so we have been watching our spending a little more closely for Sept and will do the same for Oct.





andy85

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #24 on: September 30, 2016, 05:42:40 AM »
Just checking in at the halfway point:

Goal:
$1,575 on normal spending

Currently at $1233.39, but all my utilities and mortgage has been paid. All i need is 2 more grocery trips, a tank of gas, get my car serviced, and maybe a few other small things. Should be doable with $341.61 remaining.

side note: another unforeseen (more like overlooked...because i knew it was coming) irregular expense is the $450 annual fee from the CSR credit card...soooo...there's that...
checking in

Goal:
$1,575 on normal spending

Current normal spending is at $1,414.42, which leaves me $160.58 for the rest of the month. Should be easily doable. One grocery trip, a bottle of booze, and a tank of gas. I should have money to spare.

BUTTTTTT.....
My Irregular expenses will be something like:
$577 - Vacation
$1700 - Car payment (this will pay my car off 13 months ahead of schedule!!)
$450 - Chase Sapphire Reserve Annual Fee

....at least it is a 3 paycheck month. With all the irregular expenses along side the low spending in my "normal" budget categories, I will call this month a wash. October could be different since i wont have any irregular spending other than some cyclical stuff....like a $40/year fee for my gym and a $75 pest control fee (quarterly). My water bill will probably hit next month too (every 2 months).

Pretty much nailed it!

Totals for September:
Regular spending: $1,567.77 (goal was $1,575)

Irregular spending: $2,741.65
  • Car Payment: $1,714.32 (car is now paid off!!!)
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve Annual Fee: $450
  • Vacation: $577.33 ($220.76 of that amount was refunded as part of the travel credit for the CSR credit card)

BeautifulDay

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #25 on: September 30, 2016, 05:40:39 PM »
I'm in for my misc spending (made up of several smaller categories including: groceries, entertainment, pet supplies, other shopping, cash). I really struggle with these. Not included are auto expenses, money to charity, insurance and other monthly expenses that are fixed.  These other expenses are under control and I consistently stay on track here or even spend less than planned.  Instead I'm going to focus on my weakest area. 

I budget $1030 for all of my misc expenses.  This is too high, but even worse I haven't been achieving my budget.  On average I spend $1444 in this area.

So...
  • stick to my plan and follow the budget
  • watch my eating out and instead cook more
  • watch our cash spending

Staying on budget means I can pay off our debt faster. 

If I stay on budget total my expenses will be $2053 and I'll put another $2800 on debt.

Well I didn't quite make it.  $1173 for misc. spending. Still over my budget of $1030 but an improvement over other months.  Guess I need to keep working on my self control. :). Gets better every month.

frooglepoodle

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #26 on: September 30, 2016, 07:24:09 PM »
It's late but I was on a low-Spendtember anyway so I'm jumping in. Somehow my addled brain thought that the car and renters insurance ($1100) would charge on October 1, but I was off by a month and hadn't budgeted enough money for it in YNAB yet.

My spending goal is to completely cash flow the $780 that I hadn't budgeted yet while still meeting our savings goals, or just under $2000. This is almost 25% lower than our spending last month (which was pretty typical).

Speaking of addled brains, my initial post didn't made any sense. I meant just under $2000 non-insurance spending. Regardless, YNAB shows total outflow for the month as just slightly less than our inflow, so we successfully cash flowed the insurance bill even with some frivolities. *pats self on back*

Landlady

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Re: Low Spendtember
« Reply #27 on: October 12, 2016, 03:31:25 PM »
Well I almost did it even with two weeks of travel and a broken down washing machine.

Typical month: $3,000
Goal: $2,500

Actual: $2,654

That's $346 that will go to pay off the mortgage.