Success And Failure In The November No Spend Challenge

imagesCANG3U8ZOn November 1, 2013 I started a no spend experiment for the month of November.  My goal was to spend as little as possible to maximize my savings and debt repayment as the year was drawing to a close.  ( )

I managed to cook most of my meals and make toast or popcorn when I didn’t feel like cooking (which was a lot).  Somewhere during the month I lost 5 pounds without ever feeling hungry.  I guess there are a lot more calories in all those fried crunchy take out meals that I love than whatever I cobble together at home.

There was a lunch out with friends that came to under $20, a vet visit, gas, some fresh groceries and a toilet paper and tea sale at Costco.  I trimmed my own bangs to prolong a haircut even longer but the rest has become unmanageable and I have made an appointment for next week.  I seem to be able to stretch the hair cuts to every 3 months and the entire business costs less than $20 and I have the cash for the cut in my wallet.

On November 1, 2013 I had stocks in my TFSA valued at $3,600 and various RRSP savings valued at $4,700 for a total of $8,300  (about $5,000 of this amount was saved in 2012)   I was $1,700 short of my 2013 savings goal of $10,000.   On November 30,2013 I have $9,413 in the various savings vehicles just $587 short of my goal.

On November 1, 2013 my total debt, still all HELOC, was $12,875.  I was about $3,000 away from meeting my goal of having my debt be under $10,000.   I would have been much closer to my debt goal but I had to loan one of my sons $1,900 tuition money because he failed to save and blew all his money on fun stuff.  I did not have $1,900 and I had to put that on the line of credit.   I was very annoyed with him until I had to buy a car and then my debt ballooned to $24,570 and I knew that getting out of debt in early 2014 was no longer a goal.

I would have been on track to get my HELOC debt under the $10,000 mark by December 31,2013 if it wasn’t for that loan.  I would have also had some money to put towards the savings goal that I am short on.   I am tracking the interest for the $1,900 that my son owes me but I will include it in my debt until I actually receive the money.  I expect  that 100% of his tax return this spring will come to me as the first loan payment.

As of November 30, 2013 my debt sits at $24,100.  That is $12,100 on the HELOC and the rest is the car loan.   I am $2,101 dollars short of reaching my debt goal of having the HELOC debt be under $10,000 on December 31,2013.  I am not going to reach that goal.

I am committed to 4 years of car payments at $250 per month.  Readers of my other car posts would have seen the term of this loan change from 5 years to 4 years with a small interest payment due at the end.  I was able to plow part of the money I didn’t spend this month in to the car down payment and was able to reduce the term of the loan.  I am treating the car payment as a monthly bill, just like my car insurance and property tax, and I will not be rushing to pay it off.


I have ordered snow tires for my car and I will be able to pay for most of it with the cash I did not waste this month.   I will put the entire purchase on a credit card to gain points and will pay the small remainder off when I get paid in 2 weeks.  While some people do not think that snow tires are necessary I drove one snowy day on the all season radials and I did not enjoy the stomach flip flops that come with the slips and slides on the small hill in front of my house.   Why pay all that money for a car only to have it end up in a ditch or sliding in to the back of someone at an intersection?

There are only 2 pay cheques left for 2013.  1 before Christmas and 1 right before the new year.  I will be able to buy most of my Christmas week groceries (2 big appetite sons home for the school holiday) with PC MasterCard grocery points and with Shopper’s Drug Mart Optimum points.

I would estimate that I need less than $60 for the remaining Christmas gifts I have to buy and I have that cash in my wallet.

The 2 cheques should have a combined total of $2,700.  Of the $2,700 the household bills will take $700 and the minimum debt repayment will take $1,050 leaving $950.  $150 will go to what will be owing on the snow tires.  There is always an unexpected bill or extra food expenses and I would like to go to a movie over the holidays.  I try to go at least once per year.   There should still be enough cash left over for me to meet my savings goal total of $10,000 this year.

1 goal will be met in 2013 (savings) and 1 goal will be missed (debt) by a mile.

The month of extreme savings has been a success and while I will lighten up on the spending a little I will continue to stay on this non-spending course.  It is amazing how much money one person can waste in a month when they are not conscious of their spending.   It is astounding how much money I was able to free up for debt, the new car and savings when I put my mind to it.





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13 Responses to Success And Failure In The November No Spend Challenge

  1. Judy says:

    Congratulations on a great November, and for meeting your savings goal for the year. I have decided that I need to get a better handle on where my money is going. I have started using You Need a Budget. It is eye opening.
    I have my two grown sons home for a while, and it is certainly harder to stick to a food budget. The good thing is they are doing projects around the house for me, and shoveling the snow.

    • janesavers says:

      My sons eat me out of house and home when they are here.

      I am very pleased with my progress in November and I want to keep up the progress until the HELOC is dead. The car payments will sort themselves out and I will be concentrating on building wealth once the HELOC is gone.

    • janesavers says:

      I had a lot to say about your current net worth update but I am having a hard time posting comments.

      I wanted to ask if you have set a deadline/goal for yourself to pay off your $65,000 in debt? Is 4 years enough or will it be 5? I need strong goals and deadlines to keep me on track even when they fall apart completely like they did this month.

      • Judy says:

        Well, first of all, it is down to $62,000, which is still a lot. I started out the year at $93,000 and through everything I could at it this year. I have a couple of plans on the back burner for the upcoming year. I hope to have some money left from the life insurance to put on it, plus I am going to put $6000 from my emergency fund towards it in February. The other option is to downsize to a condo and use the equity on it. In any case, I am really hoping to have it gone by the end of next year. You are right, it is good to have a concrete goal. So that is my goal.

        I am going to work on a blog post for the end of December for some other goals for 2014.

        I wonder why you couldn’t post a comment? That’s weird.

        • janesavers says:

          I am now privately hosted and it keeps wanting me to sign in with WordPress to comment. I don’t know if I still have a WordPress log in and if I do I don’t have any idea what it is.

  2. Alicia says:

    You are really doing awesome! That’s a huge jump in your RRSP/TFSA. The other goal (HELOC) – something things are just out of your hands. I think it’s admirable to help your son, but it is frustrating it is effecting your goals.

    Also, snow tires are a must, I don’t care what anyone says! I’ve driven on all-seasons, and I cannot stand the nervousness it gives me. I had a car accident early into a winter five years ago – I swear if I had snow tires I would have been able to stop in time. Instead I slowly hit the car that pulled out in front of me (with not enough room might I add!) and then got stuck on ice. I’ll take my $500+ purchase of snow tires :)

    • janesavers says:

      Having snows is all about safety but it also means less kilometres on the summer tires so those don’t need to be replaced as frequently.

      I know that I can’t meet the debt reduction goal so I decided to meet the savings goal. I can use the tax return money that I get from putting extra in my RRSP to really drop the debt next spring. While I am not pleased with the increase in debt I feel really good about seeing a big balance in the bank.

      Money is all about feelings and emotions and seeing $10,000 in the bank will help me to feel confident and inspired to do more.

  3. dojo says:

    Love your ride. I’m sure it’s really a good car and worth the effort to pay it off.

    Cooking at home is less expensive than eating out and HEALTHIER. Just a bit research would show you how much junk, salt and calories you’re ingesting with take out. :)

    • janesavers says:

      Hard to beat fast, easy and tasty fried stuff especially when all the dishes go in the garbage when you are don. This is a hard one for me. I love junk.

  4. Jane, you are doing awesome in spite of trying circumstances – great job! I agree with Dojo about those snow tires too – they’re a must have!

    • janesavers says:

      The snow tires don’t get put on until later in the week and there is a freezing rain warning in effect. I hope tomorrow’s drive to work isn’t too wild.

      I will look at the car payments as another monthly bill and just not stress about it.

  5. IT can be hard when you are short to achieve goals, but you just have to stay positive. Of course adding new debt does not help, but we all make mistakes. Good luck reaching all your goals in 2014.

    • janesavers says:

      Staying positive is difficult especially when I haven’t seen sunlight in 4 or 5 days. Overcast and cold can kill positive feelings pretty quickly.

      I am trying to focus on building my 2014 budget and trying to get enthused about that. Paying off the $12,100 of HELOC debt is the goal for 2014.

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