Not spending money is hard. That's all I've got to say. Setting a budget is hard as well, especially when you are not use to setting one. With that said, I did OK during my "No Spend July Challenge".
I ran into a few spending road blocks. First, my best friend got married this month. So purchases related to the weekend of her wedding amounted to around $100. I didn't factor this into my budget and I am not going to because she is only getting married once and I wanted to contribute as I could. This is an example of how special occasions or unexpected costs can creep into a monthly budget. I learned I should make some room in my budget for gifts and outings.
My second challenge was that towards the end of the month, I started getting lazy. At the beginning of the month I was keeping track in a spreadsheet of every single purchase. Now I wasn't doing a lot of purchasing, but I still had to keep track of what I was spending on groceries and on how I was spending my spending money allowance. For spending money, I started out with $40 cash for the month. This approach to giving myself an "allowance" worked really well. I actually stayed within my allowance. Go me! It was wonderful having cash around knowing that was all I had to spend. It caused me to pause and think about what I was about to buy and ask myself if a purchase was really worth it.
The third challenge was keeping track of grocery money. I purchased $45 worth of local berries this month for freezing and canning. This threw off my budget fast. I originally budgeted $160 for groceries for the month. Thankfully my Dad had me over for the 4th of July and the wedding weekend provided lots of food. I just don't think I would of come close otherwise. I ended up being $40 over, which mostly accounts for the berries. I will need to rethink my food budget. I want to eat well, but I also don't want to fall into the trap of spending too much on easy "grab and go" food because I am too lazy to make myself something or I am just too busy to care. I think $200 would be more reasonable for the month, with exceptions made to buying local seasonal produce in bulk.
I did a fantastic job of staying on budget on fuel costs. I only filled up once this month and spent $39.50 doing so. I budgeted $40 on gas for the month. I was able to stay within budget because I rode the bus as much as I could. I also had a goal of saving $1,000 dollars. I put the money in my savings account today! I came very close to this goal though and will have to be frugal in my spending the next couple weeks until I get paid again. In addition to monitoring my savings and how it is growing, it is also really important for me to contribute financially to other things that are important in my life like giving to my church and the charities that I support. Regardless, it feels good to spend less, save more, and be able to have the freedom to contribute to the things I care about. I am glad I embarked on the "No Spend July Challenge". It has helped me refocus how I spend money and, as a result, become more appreciative of every purchase.