Well July came and went fast for our family. We enjoyed a great trip to see my grandmother in Nebraska. Along the way we saved a lot of money using travel rewards, created some awesome memories on my grandparent’s farm, and got away from our normal routine.
We drove back on the 4th of July, and my wife was reading all about women on a Facebook group doing a savings challenge called ‘No Buy July’. I had never heard of it, but was willing to give it a try.
We had been wanting to save more towards our renovation goals, so we thought, heck why not try it? We settled on starting the 10th of July. That would give us 21 days to try and buy nothing extra other than the necessities. Also, selfishly it would give me a post on a Monday, keeping me more accountable and sticking to the plan.
Read Also: 4 Night Family Road Tripfor Under $600
Here is the recap of our three week No Buy July. All in all, we learned a lot about our spending, and enjoyed competing with each other!
The Big Wins
I will admit that at times during the month, it got hard to not make purchases. We spent more time than normal travelling to our parents’ houses which is around 20 minutes each way.
This meant I had the urge to get fast food, ice cream, or Starbucks. My wife was awesome in supporting me when I wanted something, usually with a sideways look or a flat out, ‘No’. This was helpful because I didn’t want to be the reason we sucked at the challenge.
Our biggest wins this month were:
Not Buying Clothing
I work for a large department store. I get a nice 25% discount on all items. At the end of July there was a promotional extra off of clearance merchandise. This meant that if an item was marked down half off, I would receive an extra 40% off and then ANOTHER 25% off for my employee discount. They were practically giving things away.
I could have bought so many shirts, ties, shorts, and even shoes. Truth is, we just don’t need any more clothing. I hardly wear everything I have and my work clothing is holding up fine for now. There will always be another sale, and I will get the items I need at a great price then.
Eating Out Only Once
We normally eat our 3-4 times a month. I am the culprit again for wanting to go out to eat because it is more convenient. We stay close to on budget or go over a little every month, making up for it in other areas of the budget.
This month we ate out only 1 time with family. It was a fun meal at IHOP, meaning it wasn’t terribly expensive. We stayed way under our eating out budget, and probably ate much healthier because of it.
My wife is an amazing cook and takes the time to make awesome meals at home. She is also great at telling me she doesn’t mind cooking when I want to go out, even if secretly she would rather I learn to make a meal every now and again….
There were only a few instances where we ran into some unplanned expenses this month. Unfortunately, they turned out to be somewhat expensive, hurting our overall dollar amount performance for the three-week period.
Both myself and our family dog came down with illness. The dog’s situation turned out to be a nasty infection, resulting in an overnight stay at the puppy hospital, an x-ray, and fluids. The total cost of this came out to be $486.00.
I woke up with a wicked sinus infection, causing a quick trip to the walk-in clinic to get my usual prescription of antibiotics and steroids. The total bill for this trip was $125, and missing almost a full day of work. This is the busiest time of my work year, and I couldn’t afford to not show up for a little bit.
We had saved enough to cover these small emergencies, not having to dip into our savings account. This ended up being the best part of the entire savings challenge. By not spending for a couple weeks before these illnesses, we were able to cover the costs easily.
While these expenses caused us to not come out ahead very much, having the extra money kept us well within budget for the month overall.
There were some interesting numbers that came out of only three weeks of spending with a purpose, and actively avoiding excess purchases. I think a lot of these numbers helped push us to take more action and start another challenge.
Starbucks Trips: 0
Amazon Orders: 0
This was surprising to me in a lot of ways. Amazon and Starbucks are two of my biggest guilty pleasures. I can find any item on Amazon that in any moment I feel I need. My guilty pleasure is cruising through Starbucks to grab a drink on my way to work. I am surprised neither company put out a missing person report on me during these three weeks.
It is fun to see that when you put your mind to something, you can really achieve more than you think. I feel like now I didn’t really miss going to Starbucks, and Amazon Subscribe and Save Orders will come in when only the things our household ‘needs’ to run. I am glad to not add any more things to our life just because it is a good deal or I want it in the moment.
Zero Spend Days: 7
Another interesting number. For 33% of this challenge, I spent nothing for 24 hours. I noticed my credit card statement was a bit smaller, and the bonus of a (slightly, see above) smaller bill was nice to see. This really led us to start the Zero Day Challenge for August. Read all about this fun new challenge here.
Dollars Saved: $100 (rough estimate)
While we had some small emergencies pop up at the end of the month, we were still able to throw more money into the remodeling fund. Fortunately, the expenses did not throw us off of our plan, and the $100 extra is on top of our already allotted money going to paying for hardwood flooring. Every little bit counts!
So, you may be wondering why I recap these savings challenges, and have taken to starting another one. Hopefully for some this is added motivation to save extra yourself. It is also real-world examples of how these challenges work, showing the ups and the downs. I want to be completely transparent and show our successes and failures.
Like the awesome blogger Mrs. Frugalwoods said, there’s no perfect time to start being frugal. Just start with a daily challenge, or just make a concerted effort to spend less. Thinking about it for too long can paralyze you, and you may never get started.
Saving money is never the most glamorous thing to do. It is why I enjoy playing games with myself, and now doing these challenges to increase my savings rate, and keep me on track to meet goals even quicker than I expected.
I have enjoyed living on less, spending less, and saving more as a family. My wife has been great in playing along with my games, and we are finding out how we can really live on so much less and still enjoy life. We may still have our splurges we want, like travel or a nice pair of shoes, but we are overall living great while buying less.
We are saving more now and reaching our goals faster than we thought. The goal of being early retired is a real possibility, and being debt free is one of our great goals that is getting closer every day to happening. Every little game or challenge will help along the way. Find your version of No Buy July and start saving extra now!
What are your saving challenge successes? Did you do a No Buy July? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!