No-Buy Month Review

So in the month of August I attempted to do a No-Buy Month. The supposed purpose of a no-buy month is to get back on track with your finances, a reset, a cleanse for your spending instead of your eating, if you will. July had been a month reckless abandon with my spending, mostly because it was a “three-paycheque” month, my birthday, and I went to Thunder Bay and ran some errands I had been wanting to for months, but when I did my monthly spending review at the end of July I freaked out a little bit. A lot, actually. So I decided to do a no-buy month for August, you can read my plan in this blog post.

However, when I just sat down and went over all of my spending from doing the “no-buy month” it doesn’t really seem like I really followed any of my own rules, except for no shopping. I did not buy any clothes, stationary/office supplies, and the only home product I bought was an $8 replacement knob that broke in March. I still got Tim Hortons/fast food a few times. Specifically, I got Tim Hortons 9 times and A&W once, which was particularly wasteful because I threw it up on the way home, however, it was payment for my friend driving me to Dryden to test drive cars, so it was also kind of necessary. [Side note: that was my first time eating A&W and it was also likely the last]. I also bought alcohol once and bought a few e-books to get through my Mortal Instruments phase.

So let’s do the breakdown:

My income is less than 4K per month. That’s all I feel comfortable sharing publicly on the internet. Also, of course this is all in Canadian dollars.

My expenses include:

Rent: $950

Electric: $74.85

Water: $97.96

Internet: $107.35

Cell Phone: $90.41

Car Insurance: $108.67 (this hurt this month, because I didn’t have a car for most of the month, but I didn’t want to cancel it and then start a new policy when I got a new car)

Student Loan: $311.24 (this is a super random number, but it’s what it auto-adjusted to)

My other outgoing include:

Credit Card Payment: $950

Groceries: $786.52

Coffee/Fast Food: $135.13

Gas: $69.42

Cat: $136.08 (I bought 2 cases of cat food this month, which since I stocked up before I left my job at the clinic, is the first time I’ve bought cat food in 2021). This is about two months of cat food.

Alcohol: $24.50

Toiletries/Pharmacy: $62.82

Gifts: $60 (my sister got engaged and I sent her flowers!)

Car: $163.54 (this was fees related to me buying my car, my car payments don’t start until September 20th).

Replacement knob for chest of drawers: $8.46

Books: $41.95

Subscriptions: $88.54 (there is a $23 dollar charge here for something that I cannot figure out what it is, this is why we pay attention to our subscriptions).

So if you’re paying attention, that adds up to more money out than in. During a no-buy month. Now there were some things I didn’t notice/pay attention to when I was planning my no-buy month. I didn’t notice how low I was on cat food, I wasn’t expecting to blow my back out or finally hit a wall with natural deodorants that I couldn’t deal with anymore, or run out of shampoo resulting in my toiletries/pharmacy expense. I wasn’t expecting my sister to get engaged.

The next thing is my grocery bill. The amount of money I spend on food, is absolutely out of control. I know that I should expect to have a bigger grocery bill up here, because I don’t have a take out/dining out budget at all here. But nearly $800 a month (which is actually down from May and June – July isn’t really a comparable month because I did go to Thunder Bay and get take out and eat in restaurants), which is bonkers.

So, for me a no-buy month wasn’t a way for me to get my finances under control, it exposed that the majority of my spending isn’t in shopping, but in food and that I need to do something different to get my spending under my income each month. Or increase my income.

Also, I now have some issues with a no-buy. I now need to do a skincare order, I need some things for work, and now they are all pushed forward. Maybe a no-buy is fine for people who have a full set of work clothes, and access to skin care products, but now I easily have like two to three couple hundred dollar orders that I need to place and also wasted my last month without a car loan to do them.

So here’s my new plan. I have to get my food spending under control.

Food: $500 and I have to actually track it and keep it under $500 rather than setting a budget and then ignoring it.

Coffee: $50. This also includes Tim Hortons, so if I get food then it comes out of this as well.

Alcohol: $50

Gas: $80

That has to be my monthly basic expenses. I also need to increase my income, so I have put up a couple ads for pet sitting. I did this a few times through grad school, and it was a great supplement to my income. It’s also the only quick option I can think of. Every other business idea I can come up requires start up funds and in case you can’t tell I don’t really don’t have start up funds and I really want to pay off a bunch of debt. I don’t want to be carrying a credit card balance anymore.

So all-in-all, I don’t know if a no-buy month is worth it if you aren’t making significantly higher income than your basic living expenses. However, it did make me realize that it’s not that shopping is my problem, it’s stuff that could be classified as “essential living expenses” that I way overspend on. Also, Tim Hortons, which is annoying because I don’t even actually like it that much, but it’s basically the only restaurant in town, besides Subway which I really don’t like.

So yeah, I don’t know if a no-buy month is really the answer to your financial mess if you have one, but basically it just kind of sucked and I didn’t save any extra money.


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