A recent MSN Money article discussed what happened when one family went "no-buy" for an entire month. The author discussed how her family of three took the "no-buy" challenge which entailed, them buying, "…nothing extra -- only the bare necessities". For her family, it meant they paid "…rent and other monthly bills and bought groceries, dog food and gas, but that's pretty much all the spending we did." In the process, they were able to save $472.
That's great for them, but I'm really not all that impressed…here's why.
What the Author Managed for One Month is What We Manage Regularly
So the author paid regular monthly bills, rent, bought groceries, dog food (we don't have a dog, but we do have a baby), and gas. We also don't have rent since we've paid off our mortgage, but we do have a $300 monthly assessment fee and property taxes of about $250 a month. We keep our grocery bills low by shopping at Aldi and Wal-mart and through utilizing leftovers, and we typically spend less than $300 to feed our family of four, including our baby. And when it comes to entertainment, our budget is minimal to say the least.
We typically limit ourselves to one to two dinners out a month. We don't even go out for or order pizzas much anymore since we tend to buy the "take 'n bake" versions and do it ourselves for far less than what we'd tend to spend buying from a pizza place.
And when we do go out, we do our best to limit costs. We share our meals with our five-year-old, since he's a pretty picky eater and tends not to eat that much when we go out. We also tend to avoid drinks other than water, and look to use coupons that often allow us to cut 15 percent from our meal cost. This way, we can keep our costs for these meals out close to $30, which we feel is pretty reasonable.
Ditching Expensive Entertainment
Entertainment doesn't have to be expensive to be fun in our family. We enjoy outdoor activities, and this can help us keep costs down in this area. For example, we buy an annual zoo pass for the family that only runs us about $120 for the entire year. We also do proactive cost reducing things like ask for a pass to the family recreational club (it's nothing fancy, just a place to camp, fish, and cookout) for our Christmas gift. We also do things like enjoy walks in the area parks and forest preserves, go to family get-togethers, explore different Chicago neighborhoods, and similar activities that get the family out and about but entertain us affordably as well. And when we're looking to get the kids out during the long winters, there are cheap playland-type options where admission is super cheap but the kids love it.
The vast majority of our clothing comes from resale options. Whether from resale shops, garage sales or hand-me-downs, there are a variety of ways we accumulate more clothing than we actually need for much less than most people spend on this budgetary item. This is an easier aspect upon which to go "no-buy", since unlike food, we generally have a month or two, sometimes even longer before we have to repurchase.
The great thing about buying clothes this way is that not only do we often get lightly used, name brand items, but we can typically resell these items -- if they haven't been too used through our own wear and tear -- at a garage sale for close to what we bought them for.
So we actually find it quite easy to go without buying much for an entire month or even longer. By keeping costs to a minimum in the first place, it really doesn't take much in the way of self-sacrifice for us to go "no-buy" for a month here and there.
*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a personal finance story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.
More From This Contributor:
The author is not a licensed financial professional. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader's discretion.
Conover, Raechel. MSN Money. "No-buy month saves family $450-plus". March 7, 2013. http://finances.msn.com/saving-money-ideas/3f4c6b6a-0c78-48b8-9f9f-da3ee1527feb. March 14, 2013.
- Personal Finance - Lifestyle
- Banking & Budgeting