July is going to be a good month…I can feel it. The weather here in Pittsburgh is lovely, my garden is doing awesome, and my vitamin D levels are returning to normal thanks to more and more sunshine in my life. But with the beginning of summer sometimes comes the beginning of new spending habits. I tend to take my kids to more places that cost money (the pool, the movies, etc.), and buy more and more “summer essentials”. So this year I have decided that July is a no-spend month for us. What does that mean?
Here is my ‘No Spend July’ list of cans and cannots.
Things I can spend money on:
- I do our grocery shopping on the 1st and 15th. I then only go to the store for milk and spinach when we run out between shopping trips. (Why milk and spinach? Well both my kids drink milk like it’s going out of style, and the Mr. takes a spinach salad to work every day).
- Essential personal items. This includes toothpaste, deodorant (not making the same mistake as I did for Lent when I gave up buying myself anything and then my deodorant ran out!!), shampoo…etc.
- Gas for our cars. Although with my new hybrid I’m not seeing needing to do this very often. (right now I’m getting 49 miles to the gallon! Boom!)
- Unavoidable expenses. This already came up. We had to mail a borrowed item to my in-laws and unfortunate there was a deadline on when they needed it back. So the $3.94 for postage unfortunately was spent L
Things I cannot spend money on:
- Services of any kind. No oil changes, no haircuts, no lawn service, and no babysitters.
- Food that does not come from the grocery store.
- Anything that is not essential for daily function and can wait to be purchased until August. (Mascara, clothing, and pretty much anything from Target fall under this category).
Why am I doing this (and imposing it on my family)? Because 1) I think it’s really important to take a step back from our regular spending and appreciate what we already have. 2) It puts spending in perspective and little breaks from spending help us be more deliberate in what we buy. 3) We go on vacation in August when spending just happens. So I think it’s best to balance it out with no spending the month before. 4) Because we can, so we will.
So how are we doing so far? Well…we are only 5 days in and have already slipped up. I had forgotten that I had signed Bonzo up for a “See How Ice Cream Is Made” Tour at our local Brusters. She got to hang out with her little buddies and make some ice cream (and then of course eat it), but the cost was $5. Since I had already signed her up, and she knew about it, it was only fair to let her attend. We had rsvped as a group and I didn’t want to flake out on the mom that had put the outing together. In the grand scheme of things $5 isn’t terrible, but it still sucks that I had to mess up 3 days in! Oh well, now I am resolved to not spend any more until August 1st!
Speaking of August, this is when we head out on our annual pilgrimage to our cabin “up north’. If you know anything about Minnesota, you know that everyone has a cabin and everyone’s cabin is “up north”. Our family actually owns a cabin in a lovely town called Park Rapids, MN. It is on a beautiful lake and because it is a family owned home (built by my grandparents) it is a free place to stay (can’t get better than that!). I am so excited to head up there for a week of fun in the sun, relaxing by the lake, and family adventures into small town Minnesota. I have so many memories as a kid at the cabin and I can’t wait for my kids to have the same memories.
But of course…we are doing it on a budget! For the low low cost of $690, we get a 9 day vacation.
Here is how the money plays out:
$160 for gas. My car is a hybrid and is right now getting 49 mpg. I’m going to guess that during the trip it will go down to about 45mpg. It is about 1000 miles there and I’m overestimating an extra 300 miles to get around the small town to run errands and do some touristy things. With gas prices at about $2.80, that comes out to about $160 for gas. (Can you tell I have a B.A. in Accounting?)
$150 for groceries for the week. We are pretty light eaters and love to grill, so I don’t plan on buying a ton of food for the week. My mom also lives on the way up there, so we may stop and borrow some condiments and spices so that we don’t have to rebuy them just for the week.
$250 for meals out. There are a few restaurants that are tradition to visit while we are up there so we will plan to go out for dinner at least a few nights. The good thing is that they are pretty cheap (and delicious) and give generous portions which we can take home and eat the next day.
$100 for fun money. There are only a few places we really visit while we are up at the cabin and they are cheap fun. One is an old fashion candy store but even a few pounds of candy won’t put us out more than $15. The rest is just for auxiliary fun like ice cream, petting zoo admission, etc. I hate souvenirs so we try to avoid these at all cost.
$0 for lodging. The cabin is free to stay in and we are stopping one night at friends’ houses on the way up and the way back (also free).
DON’T MISS: 20 Things To Do With $5 (Or Less)
$30- road trip food. I hate fast food, so I always pack lunches and dinners for us. They are much healthier and taste way better (although I think Bonzo and the Mr. would disagree). But the Mr. always likes to get a snack for driving, and so does Bonzo, so I’ve added in a little bit of money for them to get their treats.
We have actually already put aside $1200 for the trip so it will be nice to not spend it all. Then we can have extra to put towards our big international trip that we are taking this March (more on this later!). So all in all I am so excited for July (and August). Things are shaping up to be a great summer.
What are your plans for the summer? How will you vacation and still stay on budget?