No-Spend February - Finance thread

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A system of cells interlinked

My family and I are about to enter a No-Spend February, which is a way to analyze and adjust a person or family's financial budgeting approach, and most importantly, reign in frivolous spending.

The idea is to only spend money on the "four walls" that are necessary to live, while cutting out all other spending for an entire month. The four walls are:

Shelter
Basic food requirements
Transportation
Utilities/Bills


So... no clothing, eating out, entertainment/gaming/events, drinking, smoking, lottery tickets, Starbucks lattes, random app purchases, NO GOING TO THE MOVIES. A tough one for the MoFos, which will have most of them not joining in, I am sure!

*If you like road snacks, buy them at the grocery store and bring them with you etc. Make coffee at home and bring it with you etc. Sorry New Englanders: NO DUNKIN DONUTS!

There are exceptions: Car repair, medical emergencies, prescriptions etc. Just use common sense here.

I have a PDF tracker sheet if you want want, just let me know I can email it over.

Some helpful hints:

Tell your friends/family, both to ensure accountability and to let people know your usual hang out session won't include your usual food delivery order.

No cheat days!

If an item comes up that you want, make a list, and assess it in a need vs want paradigm at end of month - this is the entire focus of doing this: assessing needs vs. wants.

Use a spending tracking sheet or a finance app to monitor all transactions.

In summary, the object here to to quash instant gratification through spending, curb or halt retail therapy (my wife...oy vey!!), and inculcate better habits when analyzing wants vs needs. My wife has a nasty habit of randomly stopping in at stores buying things she doesn't need, and finding them, still with the tags on them, months later in a closet.

As an aside, this is good time to analyze bills, try to knock some down if possible, and perhaps adjust how you go grocery shopping by trying to find bulk deals, use coupons and things of that nature. Also a good time to analyze entertainment funding, whether or not streaming has gotten out of hand, gaming etc.

One example is that you can try to call your internet company, threaten them with moving your service because the other company will offer you the same service for $XX.XX, and either actually move your service, or get them to knock 40 bucks off your bill. Stuff like that.

I will be using this thread to track my progress, but though I would put it live on MoFo in case anyone wants to join. I w ill be making edits to this post as I think of things to add, as well.
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“It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.” ― Thomas Sowell



You ready? You look ready.
so where does streaming entertainment tie into all this? cause that kinda feels like a utility these days
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"This is that human freedom, which all boast that they possess, and which consists solely in the fact, that men are conscious of their own desire, but are ignorant of the causes whereby that desire has been determined." -Baruch Spinoza



2022 Mofo Fantasy Football Champ
I'm assuming if you already have the streaming service, it can be treated like a "bill". Just no additional purchases

I'll also "cheat" in a way because I have some streaming gift cards that I can use.

Or maybe I shouldn't do this at all lol.



I actually just started doing it this week. $70 a week is the allowance im giving myself, this is for food gas and nicotine pouches. First week I've failed and went $20 over, but I'm wiser for it and shan't fail again! Yeah.

The goal is to save up $1400 in Feb and March towards a new car, and afterward being able to have a healthy savings account for the first time in my life.

Since this challenge starts in February I'll look at what I've done as practice. Onward !



A system of cells interlinked
so where does streaming entertainment tie into all this? cause that kinda feels like a utility these days
You, we aren't cutting any of that right away, but I do have Amazon up on the block to perhaps get cut next time it comes due for the annual payment (this fall). Otherwise, we just have Disney, which was paid for annually and I split with a friend of mine. In other words, we aren't even factoring that in as something to cut this month, and as you mentioned, we are just factoring that in with bills.

I mean really, adjust as you want in line with your financial goals, and then analyze everything you spent when it's done.

Important to also avoid a big spending spree on March 1st!



A system of cells interlinked
I actually just started doing it this week. $70 a week is the allowance im giving myself, this is for food gas and nicotine pouches. First week I've failed and went $20 over, but I'm wiser for it and shan't fail again! Yeah.

The goal is to save up $1400 in Feb and March towards a new car, and afterward being able to have a healthy savings account for the first time in my life.

Since this challenge starts in February I'll look at what I've done as practice. Onward !
This going even deeper, also trying to ratchet down the spending on the four walls. This makes the challenge even harder!



Sorry if I'm rude but I'm right
You planning a No Nut November thread, too?
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Look, I'm not judging you - after all, I'm posting here myself, but maybe, just maybe, if you spent less time here and more time watching films, maybe, and I stress, maybe your taste would be of some value. Just a thought, ya know.



No spending in February - Welcome to my world!

Every month is a no spend month at the 'Rules' household. I bet that my expenditures for one month is equal to what you guys spend in a week if not just in a few days. Oh I'm not saying everyone overspends, I'm saying I got no money to spend I can teach you guys how to cut your spending cost. First tip....piracy...How much do all of you spend each month on movie/tv watching? Be honest...



A system of cells interlinked
No spending in February - Welcome to my world!

Every month is a no spend month at the 'Rules' household. I bet that my expenditures for one month is equal to what you guys spend in a week if not just in a few days. Oh I'm not saying everyone overspends, I'm saying I got no money to spend I can teach you guys how to cut your spending cost. First tip....piracy...How much do all of you spend each month on movie/tv watching? Be honest...
Easy one for me:

Amazon: $11.58/month

Disney+: I split the cost with a friend and share a login: $5.83/month

I pay annually for both services for a slight discount.

Otherwise, it's the occasional trip to the cinema. The last film I went to was Napoleon, which was in December, I believe. Hard to budget that in and give you accurate cost, as I rarely go. The time before that was Oppenheimer, which was months previous.

I don't buy DVDs etc. anymore.



2022 Mofo Fantasy Football Champ
Cutting the random food and drink expenditures will be the most positive thing for this I'm guessing. I'm looking forward to it.



_____ is the most important thing in my life…
Feels like driving to WVA for a bottle of rye
is gonna put an end to this challenge for me.




You, we aren't cutting any of that right away, but I do have Amazon up on the block to perhaps get cut next time it comes due for the annual payment (this fall).
So is the extra $2.99 per month price increase for commercial free service grandfathered in?



This is a wonderful, very well thought idea and a huge service to everyone here on the board. This is actually not something that I need to participate in, as I never have any difficulty paying for the necessities of living. The reason for that is what I'd like to contribute to this thread, which is to live below your means. Not at your means, not above your means (as many Americans do), but below your means. Live a standard of living that you can easily afford that meets your needs. It may be less than your ideal, or what you think you may deserve, and it does require sacrifice, but it will be much better for you in the long run. Living this way, you are much less stressed out because your income always exceeds your expenses, and you are able to more easily invest in savings, vacations, retirement contributions, etc. Also, automate your bills, so all your necessities of living are paid for automatically, you never miss a payment, and always have a high credit score. Try as much as possible to pay your credit card bill in full each month so you don't pay exorbitant interest fees. When I have an unanticipated expense, I just pull from my savings, which serves as an emergency fund, and pay it. I automate all my retirement contributions so that I never see the money in my bank account, which makes it impossible for me to spend it and not save it for my retirement. I still don't like unanticipated expenses, and do still get upset when I have to pay large amounts of money that I didn't want to on things that I don't want to spend it on, but it's never because I can't afford to do so. The reason that most people can't afford a $400 emergency expense, which surveys show at many income levels, so not just for the poor, where it would be understandable, is because many of those people live above their means. I don't do that, and I'm therefore much less stressed out when I need to spend money. I am currently single, so this is admittedly more difficult to do with children, but I still think the principles can be adjusted as needed and followed. Living in the DC area, the cost of living is very high where I live, and I've still managed to do this, so you likely can too if you make it a priority for you! Good luck.



_____ is the most important thing in my life…
Nice humble brag 🙄

The automated bills are great if you don’t want to take the time to ensure they’re right. Getting money back is always harder than correcting mistakes before they happen and not paying in the first place.

Best advice for anyone, don’t buy snacks at Costco! That’s where the real savings are.



_____ is the most important thing in my life…
The more people involved, the harder it is. My humble brag is that most of my frivolous extra spending comes from buying stuff for others.

Chick-fil-a with ice-free lemonades. Case of “glass” bottle Pellegrino and the canned Pellegrino and your Trader Joe’s shopping list and all the ethanol-free gas coming to see you and hotel rooms I would never stay in and having to always eat dinner because that’s a thing. Oh my. I hope that didn’t come across wrong.

Being single is kinda the cheat code for saving money. Cuts down on your liabilities expenses.

Disclaimer-any current people in any form of relationship with me have no expectations of goods and services and we all know that deep down good deeds are for our own ego.



[font=century gothic]Nice humble brag 🙄
If this is the message that you got from my post, then you have either misinterpreted it, or, more likely, I did not do a very good job of communicating it. I was seeking to share some principles that I've followed for years that have worked for me, that I thought aligned with the topic of this thread, how to become more financially sustainable, that I hoped would help others too. Living below my means and resisting the impulse to live a lifestyle beyond what I can comfortably afford has been a powerful and very effective tool for me. It's keeping fixed expenses manageable, rather than not buying that coffee at Starbucks, that I think matters more over the long term.



My wife and I have did something similar in the past, and amusingly, I think we chose the same month! Either that or January. Not sure if that's a coincidence, or if both we and you concluded that it's a little easier to do in the winter when you're less inclined to go out anyway?

Anyway, it's a great habit to get in, not just because you spend less (even if you "make up for it" after the month is over, good chance you won't counteract all the spending), but because it's pretty likely you come out the other end of it broken of a few habits, once you realize how easy it is to go without X or Y. Of course you also learn some things are very hard to go without, but that's useful, too. One of the nice things about getting older is figuring out which things are important to you, and prioritizing those, and this is one of the better ways to do that.



A system of cells interlinked
So is the extra $2.99 per month price increase for commercial free service grandfathered in?
I doubt it! This sort of downward slide in value for the service is one of the reasons it is up on the block.


...Living in the DC area, the cost of living is very high where I live, and I've still managed to do this, so you likely can too if you make it a priority for you! Good luck.
Yea - We find ourselves on sort of the intermediate plateau that many people can find themselves on. We don't live paycheck to paycheck, we have resources at our disposal, but tend to be bad a locking down the next level of advancement, often falling into the lifestyle creep trap. Oh we are making a little more, now we can spend a little more etc. And not to throw her under the bus (again?), but my wife definitely has issues with retail therapy, and tends to be what we butt heads about most often when it comes to finances.

I think this stemmed from me handling all the finances behind the scenes, so she really had no idea of the ebb and flow of the bill cycles and never had eyes on the actual numbers she was generating as far as costs. After a couple of sessions in front of the finance tracking software, with her purchases and spending tagged, her eyes got big and round as she saw how the nickel and diming can really take a chunk out of savings.

Now I have her excited to save and to work along side me with the finances, so I think our problem is mostly solved before we even initiate the changes. Let's hope!

Anyway, thanks for the hints, which are quite useful!

Challenge starts TOMORROW!