Hi, I'm Amanda (formerly amyamanda), mom to two preteen boys and two slightly younger girls. I just finished up my holiday shopping except for three things: story CDs for all the kids (a tradition and I'm not sure where I'm going to squeeze the money for this), a specific holiday concert that we always attend (same thing, not sure where the money is coming from), and the usual nuts/dried fruit/chocolate/oranges for the stockings.
Oh, and some food treats for Christmas Day. I have to make sure that happens - it's a big part of our tradition. Nothing super fancy but I can't skimp and do just a pantry challenge between now and then. Also we have a 1/4 cow coming any day, because when it's available, I have to take advantage of it.
Aaaaaggghhh! Time to pinch pennies!
My best plan is to stay out of stores COMPLETELY and off buying websites. Also go without some things that are technically optional, and push some bills off until next month. Every year I try to plan ahead for Christmas spending, and every year I don't quite manage it. I still resolve to do better this time around.
When I'm trying very hard to no-spend, it helps me to declutter the house again - uncover treasures, appreciate what we have, find things we forgot we had, get new ideas on how to enjoy the stuff we found, etc.
Also, this is not exactly no-spend, but I work hourly from home and I keep a spreadsheet with my budget and planned expenditures. I literally change the number in my upcoming "income" box on my spreadsheet as I work more hours so I can see those anticipated near-future expenses get funded. It helps me stay on target with working and also stay acutely in touch with what is being spent and how many hours it costs me. I try not to spend money that isn't premeditated and already accounted for.
I have my fingers crossed for a bonus this year. I got a nice one last year, for the first time, and we had a better year this year. It won't ease everything, but any extra will make a difference. My emergency fund is (sad to admit) down to almost nothing due to unexpected car repairs and a few other things, and it's time to refund it.
Taking a deep breath and trusting that ends will meet this month without too much stretching. Good luck, everyone, with your no-spend month!