Frugal Living | Our Family Budget

No Spend Challenge Month Results : September 2020 Budget Update

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no spend challenge results

Motivate Yourself With A Money Challenge To Build Financial Strength

Who knew that a No Spend Month Challenge would confront our financial strengths and weaknesses, but that’s what it’s all about.

Our no spend challenge month in September started pretty normal but then came with mixed results.

For anyone new to Canadian Budget Binder last month, I blogged about beginning a no spend challenge month for September.

One reader mentioned that it might be a tough time to do a no spend month challenge since it was back to school.

There is much merit in what she has said and I’ll explain why shortly but I never gave much thought to the timing.

Learn From Mistakes

Initially, we walked into the no spend challenge with hesitation as I knew it would be tough as a challenge should be.

I wanted to be transparent with my readers because I’m not here to lie and tell you we did it when we did not.

We are human and make mistakes just like everyone else.

Personally, I find doing a No Spend challenge to be motivating when nobody knows about it.

That way they can’t do the, “I told you so” if you mess it up.

With the blog we are transparent so if we screw up, we screw up and that’s ok. – Mr.CBB

Also, before we started budgeting in 2012 our budgeting system was a disaster and very unorganized.

It took time for us to learn about budgeting methods and what worked for us the best.

What we learned was that a budget binder was going to help us survive to pay off debt including our mortgage.

That meant we needed to document everything we were doing and spending including creating monthly and yearly goals.

Beginning this no spend challenge month was initiated too fast although we had all of our ideas and thoughts on paper.

Even though we created a no spend challenge budget binder printables tool and believed we were armed with shields, we failed.

That’s right, we failed our no spend challenge and we’re fine with that because we knew it would be a significant challenge for us.

Let’s have a look at the areas of our budget that hit us the hardest and why we spent the money.

Problem Areas From Our No Spend Challenge

Actual Budget

Overspend Budget Categories For September


Our son has a birthday in September and we spent too much money.

This was 100% our fault however we purchased a sensory swing tree tent for his bedroom that cost us $150 plus tax.

It wasn’t in the plans but we’re waiting on diagnosis and are trying to find ways to provide him a space that works for his needs.


Then we found the sensory sock that we thought was perfect for him since he’s always trying to get into our pillowcases with his legs.

He loves the sensory sock so much that he asks to be put in it.

It helps him to regulate his body and he rolls and jumps around in it and then takes it off when he’s ready.

So, we spent more than we should have including Switch video games, a steering wheel controller, socks, underwear, and a book.

We do save for birthday’s in our projected expenses but we fell short of the amount we put aside for his birthday gifts.

On a good note, we did get 20x the Optimum points purchasing the Switch video game from Shoppers Drug Mart.


We went to Costco. That was the big problem because we tend to stock up on items so we don’t have to go back often.

This month we bought extra salami for our little guy which is pretty much all he eats as well hotdogs.

Groceries have always been our downfall especially if we have a grocery list and see deals.

Going into Costco was a big test for us and we failed but we are stocked up for next month.

At Zehrs we stocked up on bacon it was a manager sale of $1.99 for 500g of bacon and I bought 10 packs.

I honestly couldn’t resist and I was hoping we’d be under budget but we weren’t.

See, it’s SO hard.

What’s an item you wouldn’t pass up if you saw it dirt cheap and you knew you could freeze it?


As my CBB reader mentioned September would be a challenge with back-to-school clothing and supplies and it was.

A trip to Marshall’s saw us spend money on new jogging pants, socks, and t-shirts for the little guy.

The main reason was that he is so tall that his pants are too short but fit in the waist perfectly fine.

A month before school started we both thought we’d be ok but he grew and the pants started to look funny on him.

We also went to Value Village and picked up a few items including a new jacket which we should have had the strength to say NO.

He has more jackets than he already needs.

Health and Beauty

This is all Mrs. CBB haha! She purchased a Neostrata face wash and hair dye that was on sale with a coupon reg 15.99 sale $8.99 minus $2 coupon.


These were expenses that I didn’t account for such as two new charge cables for my phone and our son’s tablet along with a new case for my phone.


It seems high but we are paying out of pocket for our son’s medical expenses as they come.

We did not project for them in 2020 as we did not know.

This expense was not considered a part of the no spend month challenge as it was a necessity.

No Spend Challenge Month Tips

  • Time your no spend month so you don’t start one during a month where you know you will have to spend money
  • Talk to your partner or spouse daily and if you are single have a talk with yourself about any problems.
  • Write any thoughts or concerns along the way so you can reflect on them
  • If a no spend month challenge is too much plan for a week or two instead

No Spend Challenge Month Final Thoughts

So, what we’ve learned from this challenge is that we weren’t prepared enough.

We also needed to plan the timing better and come up with smaller wins before tackling a full no spend month.

When Mrs. CBB told me that the no spend month reminder here of intermittent fasting it made sense.

To reach longer fasting goals, she had to practice by doing one week, two weeks, and eventually 21 days of water fasting.

The point is sometimes we try to jump into challenges or new adventures headfirst without proper training or grounding.

I feel the next time we do this challenge we will start slow with one week no spend challenge with a report then two weeks and so on.

Never give up.

If you fail find a better way to reach your goals even if they are slightly different from the original plan.

Discussion: How have you successfully conquered and documented your no spend month?

Share any tips below to help us and anyone else working towards this goal.


Home Budget Income Report September 2020

family net income


Hi CBB readers,

As mentioned above you’ll see where our money went in September and how we failed the No Spend Challenge for the month.

Things happen and we move on and try again.

That’s, that.

The good news is that we bumped up our savings accounts and emergency savings this month.

We also may have some medical bills that will eat into our savings but I’ll keep you posted.

One of our bills this month was $250 for a 30-minute visit with a doctor. Ya, it’s that crazy expensive.

The best part is that we have to pay another $250 just to see him again to get the results from our son’s performance.

Ah well, sometimes there are financial happenings we can’t control and that’s prices.


Home Budget Percentages

Monthly Budget Percentage Chart

Our savings of  53.44% include investments as well as any savings for this month based on the net income of $9989.47.

We save money in our projected expenses for things that need to be paid for in the coming months.

All of the categories took 100% of our income which shows that we accounted for all of the income in September 2020.

This type of budget is a zero-based budget where all of the money has a home.

Monthly Home Budget Expenses

family net income

Below is a breakdown of our expenses which helps us to understand where all of our money goes.

  1. Chequing– This is the bank account where all of our debt gets paid from. We use Simplii Financial, TD Canada Trust, and Tangerine Bank.
  2. Emergency Savings Account– This is a high-interest savings account.
  3. Regular Savings Account– This is a savings account that holds our projected expenses.
  4. Monthly Budgeted Total: $6392.68
  5. Monthly Net Income Total: $9989.47
  6. (Check out our Ultimate Grocery Guide to see where our grocery money goes)
  7. Projected Expenses: These are expenses we know we will pay for throughout the year = $852.91
  8. Total Expenses Paid Out: $6317.75
  9. Total Expenses Paid Out: Calculated is $9989.47 (total net monthly income) – $852.91 (projected expenses) –$2818.81 (savings to emergency fund) = $6317.75
  10. Actual Cash Savings going into Emergency Savings: Calculated is $9989.47 (total monthly net income) – $6317.75 (actual expenses paid out for the month) – $852.91 (projected expenses) = $ 2818.81

Monthly Budget and Actual Budget

Monthly Budget September

Below you will see two tables, one is our monthly budget and the other is our actual budget.

This budget represents 2 adults and a 6-year-old son, plus retirement investments.

Budget colour chart: If highlighted in blue that means it is a projected expense.   

Since May 2014 we’ve been mortgage-free so much of our money will be directed at savings, investments, and renovations.

I appreciate that you enjoy this budget update each month but I do hope you view this as an educational tool rather than comparing your financial numbers as our situations are all unique.

Spending less than we earn and budgeting has been the easiest way for us to pay down debt and save money.

Monthly Home Budget Actual Expenses

Actual Budget

2020 Home Budget Challenge

2020 Budget Challenge

September Update: We are still 2 players in for the Budget Challenge 2020.

These two budget challengers are going to ride it out until the end of 2020.

Let’s have a look at what happened with their monthly budgets in September.

Budget Challenger #1

September has been all about taking two steps forward and two steps back in terms of our finances.

I had great plans for hubby’s birthday but I ended up sick in bed for 4 days instead.

Thank goodness for grocery delivery because I was able to get him some Juicy Jumbo hot dogs, Cheesy hoagie buns and 6-inch lemon cheesecake for a few birthday treats.

He was happy with that!

This month I converted our Vistana timeshare options for the 2020 calendar year into Marriott Bonvoy points so we have more freebie travel, gift card purchases, and shopping in our future.

I love all things FREE!

Hubby had a week of vacation this month but other than a little relaxing at home, his free time was devoted to running me to assorted medical appointments & doing a little banking via the local drive-thru ATMs.

Using Gift Cards

This year I am using, rather than saving, our gift cards because you just never know which company is going to “go under” with the economic strain of the pandemic.

I would rather hang onto cash rather than some defunct gift card!

So, when I feel a little better, we will order a belated take-out birthday dinner for my hubby with one of our gift cards.

Bad news…more expensive medical costs are cropping up for me.

I expect they will wipe out all of the funds we had managed to put back into the emergency account to replace what we borrowed for the last unexpected medical expense.

So, next month we will start AGAIN to trying to replace the funds that we are now borrowing for a second time. Sigh.

See what I mean…two steps forward and two steps back?

Mr.CBB– Good point about the gift cards Mary as we have many we should probably start using up. Maybe I’ll hold some contests.

Medical costs will be going up for us as well for our little guy if we put him through that program.

We’re still waiting on the psychiatrist’s results to see what he thinks is going on.

Nothing is easy in life and these are the moments emergency savings come in handy.

People don’t often realize that we must be prepared the best we can.

Happy Birthday to L and I hope you both get to use those gift cards soon.

Budget Challenger #2

Hi Mr. CBB and all,

September was a bit of an expensive month for our family.

I was on vacation and stayed with the family during some of it which helped keep costs down from my expense budget.

Originally I had planned to go to Atlanta in October but with things the way they are that needed to be canceled.

Since we can travel within the Atlantic bubble, I decided to do a bit of traveling anywhere I hadn’t gone before.

It was nice doing a staycation but I missed being able to go where I had originally planned.

Who knows what the future holds, but it gave me a bit more money to put into savings for next year or the year after.

I’m hoping next year to meet up with a friend in Atlanta as planned, and go on a European holiday for my 40th birthday.

Let’s just wait and see if that pans out.

September Budget Breakdown

  • Transportation: 17.48%
  • Life: 42.79%
  • Savings (short term) 6.89%
  • Savings (long term) – remainder (will move it to long term savings when I know I don’t need it for anything)
  • Household: 1.68%

As you can see, life was a lot higher than normal.

Vacation Expenses

I wasn’t sure how to track my vacation, should I put the food, gas, etc in the normal categories or just put it under life since that’s how I normally count vacation.

A quick breakdown of what I spent on vacation:

  • Housing $184
  • Food $96
  • Gas $109
  • Transportation $99

I went through an Air Miles promotion to book my hotel nights and got about $35 back in nice points.

I have a ton of air miles banked up, so as mentioned before, hopefully vacationing next year will happen so I can use it towards my planned trip to Atlanta.

Not much to report this month, next month I have firewood to pay for, and then in November and December I have a ton of other things coming up for the house and car – it’s nice to be able to put savings aside as often as I can!

Mr.CBB– That’s great that you were able to get out for a little trip as we’re also needing a holiday.

I love how you used your Air Miles to cut some of the costs on your holiday as well.

Mary is the queen of saving for Air Miles and I still need to do a blog post about them but I’m not even close to understanding it all.

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