What this means to each person could be different, so here is what it means to me. Expenses like gas, groceries, bills, and other necessities are not included. I need to live people. Although we say we are going "grocery shopping" it is not quite the same as a Target run, just to pick up a few things...then you end up with 20 in your cart. Can anyone relate? One thing I will try to do this month is to focus on real, healthy food, and not some of those extras we don't need but sometimes come home with. What else does no shopping mean to me? No breakfast runs to the cafeteria at work or mid-afternoon runs to the vending machine. And absolutely no spending at the mall, the craft store, the home improvement store, etc. I will admit, I haven't exactly figured out if this means no going out to eat. If it were just me, I would say that absolutely is out, but my that means my poor husband is stuck at home for an entire month. So we'll see. I also have a few gift cards from Christmas, and I haven't decided if those are off limits, either. I am leaning toward just not going there. Although I wouldn't be spending real money, I would still be shopping, so those will likely stay tucked in my wallet for at least another month.
Another question I ask myself when doing this is what am I trying to accomplish? Well, I guess I have two main reasons. The first is an issue of discipline. I just want to tell myself that I can do it, and then prove to myself that I was right. The second reason is that I'm already a pretty frugal person in general. But I love to talk about budgeting and saving money. Sometimes I read articles and books for fun about how to save for the future or get out of debt, and the strategies are usually talking about cutting expenses that I don't generally have. So I just want to use this as an exercise to see where the excess is in my life, and if I had to cut something out, I would know that I could.
That seemed like a long explanation. So far, I am 5 days in, and although the smell of a breakfast sandwich tempts me every morning, I am surviving the challenge. I have just over 3 weeks left. Sometimes that seems like eternity, and sometimes it is no big deal. I will check back in when the month is over to report on how I did. Until then, wish me luck!
Note: I know that money and spending habits are extremely personal and I am in no way trying to impose my beliefs and habits on anyone else. Please read this with a grain of salt and know that this is just something I wanted to do for myself.