Let’s be honest… I spend a lot of money. And I don’t even mean “my family”. I mean I spend a lot of money. Mr. FIF spends very little. He’s picked up our grocery shopping task (to lower the bill because I spend too much) and he does the home improvement spending as well.
Not the best way to hold myself up as an example for the FI community. Now in my defense, we are family of 6 and it takes a lot of food, clothes, and utilities to keep us running (or at least that is what I tell myself).
Of the variables I have control over in my Financial Independence journey, one of them is absolutely EXPENSES. If you can live off of less, you hit FI faster!
So Mr. FIF and I decided we would try out an experiment. An experiment that we forced our kids to participate in too.
NO SPEND SEPTEMBER
The kids were not very excited about No Spend September, but we tried to make it fun.
Here were the rules:
- Necessary spending still allowed, but try not to spend more than REALLY necessary, no extra splurges at the grocery store, just groceries
- Kids were not allowed to spend from their saved allowance, but still earned their allowance for the month
- We COULD SPEND the cash in our pockets (it doesn’t count if Personal Capital doesn’t see it)
- We COULD SELL things to put more cash in our pockets
- Kids could do extra chores for CASH payments that could be spent
The spending cash stipulation was made for a few reasons. We wanted to soften the sacrifice, see what we really were probably spending too much on, and increase the kid’s motivation for doing work around the house and getting rid of things we don’t need that are just sitting around the house.
So we still ate out a few times in the month because I sold a dresser that has been sitting in the hallway of our new home for months because I just hadn’t gotten to it. But I really needed a cheeseburger.
My teenager, FIF Jr. painted the neighbor’s fence for over a hundred bucks! He also helped with a variety of outdoor chores we needed help with. He now has a one year subscription to his PlayStation (he was saving for the annual subscription because it was cheaper than the monthly subscription, I’m so proud!).
So, how’d we do?
|12 Mo. Average||No Spend September||Money Saved|
Necessary Spending went down mostly in gas and home maintenance/improvement categories. Mr. FIF really limited his Home Depot and Lowes trips to those that were necessary. As for gas, I’m not sure why it dropped, maybe we weren’t driving around to spend our money?
You may wonder why Discretionary Spending didn’t go to $0 during a no spend month. Some of the categories I mark as discretionary are really only discretionary for an emergency, like the kid’s college fund. If one of us lost our job, we could cut that, but not just for a no spend challenge. As I already mentioned, liquor is tracked as discretionary, but we weren’t willing to sacrifice it for this challenge.
You may be asking SO WHAT?!
The real impact of lowering expenses if you can sustain it looks like this:
$1,929 x 12 = $23,148 / annual expenses
$23,148 x 25 = $578,700 (using the 4% rule)
So if I could keep it up, I could reduce my investible FI assets by a whopping $578,700! I don’t really expect every month to be a no-spend month. But it did illuminate some categories we could cut back on without feeling like we’re missing out or sacrificing too much like eating out.