Budget Challenge: No-Stress November (Nov 1 - Nov 30)

I’m thinking about no stress money goals being related to figuring out my work rrsp before matching kicks in, how to use my benefits program, and thoughtfully doing holiday shopping before Dec hits.

I could also look at the potential less stress from getting to work under my own steam vs transit, but so much of that is dependent on weather, I’m not sure what to set as the success level.


I think I’ve decided on my November goal: to track just food, grocery and gas spending. No limit, just a good faith effort to continue tracking those areas I was off on so I can get better estimates for the future and establish the mindfulness to improve my habits.


I’m in…my goals are:

  1. Pack lunch most days. Eating out for lunch since starting my new position has been a major money drain

  2. Track all expenses honestly.



I’m in. My main goal is to be mindful about spending and see where our money is going while eating healthy and not getting deprived. Specific goals are:

  1. Establishing the habit of packing lunch. I am not going to fix a number of lunches. I’ll just be mindful and see what can help me get better at it. One thing I need to do is to buy a box lunch. I currently use sad plastic containers that I am ashamed to show with at work.
  2. Getting the habit of meal planning and batch cooking. This includes better planning the groceries to match what I want to cook and having enough different meals to not feel deprived. This will help reduce restaurants spending and promote healthy eating.
  3. Tracking my personal spending. This includes everything. I will do the categories later.
  4. Tracking our family spending. All of it. I want to review our budget for 2020 and be realistic. I will list the categories later.
  5. Having a budget for the French black Friday. We need many essentials and it’ll be smart to shop then. This includes lunch boxes, some glass containers and winter gear for me and the kids. I hate shopping so I’m already dreading it. How can I make myself do it?

Cultivating a feeling of no-stress in November, for me means making a list/spreadsheet of our household and personal maintenance and starting to work through the list. We began in October by getting me to a dentist, and I have a series of fillings starting this week. Ponder and Duckling need a dentist visit, and then we’ll book in the next one for 6 months time instead of letting it hang for several years again. We’re new-ish to home ownership still, so we need to work out what needs maintenance and at what frequency.

We also feel less stressed when we have meals and snacks planned in advance, so managing that a little better and making sure we have quick breakfasts available for Ponder would also be excellent.

This will be a tracking month for us, so that next month the budget can be more accurate.


For everyone trying to bring their lunch to work more, there’s a place for that now:

Whatever’s giving you trouble with bringing your lunch, come get some help and encouragement! And if you’re a champion lunch-bringer, share your recipes, lunch box set-up, and fun bento boxes or whatever you use.


I’m in!


Keep withdrawing and using weekly cash budget for personal kinds of things

Buy and eat more pizza.

Do most of my Christmas shopping. Mail Christmas cards and still be able to pay December rent as scheduled.


I definitely need to plan for how to handle November, which is going to be a really high stress month for me if I just let it happen.

  • I’m traveling a TON, which means having to make lots of decisions about what to and what not to pay for for convenience.

  • I’m expecting my boss to be pushy about me getting things done even when I’m explicitly busy, which would cause me much rage.

  • I’ve got multiple things booked every weekend, which means I will have very little time to do household chores and even less to relax.

For me it might be how to spend money smartly or even think about money to ease some of these stressors. I’m anticipating a lot of mantras about FU money when work gets stressful, and an intensely packed cooler of food for one of our 4-day driving trips to avoid overpriced and under nutritious convenience foods.


Curious whether there’s anyone else living car-free in a cold climate here, and how you budget for transportation?

My CTA unlimited pass comes out of my paycheck pretax so every ride is prepaid-for, I could ride the system 24-7 and not pay anything additional. This is, obviously, a strong incentive to avoid cabs and Lyfts. But the weather’s getting shitty. It is snowing hard right now. Realistically, there are going to be days and nights where I just do not have the mental wherewithal to stand outside in the freezing cold/snow/sleet/wind/I dunno, locusts?, with no shelters to even block the wind a little bit (many bus stops do not have them), when it’s already late and I’m probably already tired.

How do you all decide when it’s OK to say fuck it to public transport and pay for a cab/Lyft/Uber? I usually have a LOT of guilt about my spending on this. But I am not certain what’s a realistic limit.

Lyft rides are typically between $10 and $20 per ride for me - depending on where I’m going, obviously. Occasionally it creeps up to $25 or so. On one memorable occasion I got fucked by surge pricing and didn’t realize it and was charged $75, GAG. (It was a heavy snowstorm on the last day in April, though, it was a half hour until the next bus, and I just Could Not.)


For me it got to be too stressful trying to decide whether or not to spend the money on a car trip versus saving the money and using my free transit pass or biking in misery, so I decided this year just to budget the money for car trips.

I don’t know if it helps to look at frequency instead of the dollar rate per trip, but that’s what I did to figure out how much to budget. I figure once a month was about average for me to really want a car ride, October through May.

Or you could look at how much you spent on rides last year, and compare that to how often you wished you had if money was not a factor, and go somewhere in between. I’d probably at least double what you actually spent last year because I know there were some pretty awful weather days you stuck to your guns.


That’s a good idea. Work rage tends to lead to a strong urge to comfort-spend, for me. The other day I literally sat on my hands and chugged cup after cup of herbal tea (the only thing I had in the house that felt remotely comforting, as I’m trying to clean up my eating as well) to try and quell the urge to get online and drop a shitton of money on stuff I do not need.


-15 before windchill is an automatic Uber home from work. I’m soft.

I like snow. Even on ridiculous slow blizzard nights I bus. Today is pouring rain. It is a dilemma. And I haven’t even gone to work yet


I’m in!

I’ve been tracking all my spending for the last two months, so I’m planning to stick to that.

My goals:

  1. Reduce grocery spending (will work out a specific $$ goal).
  2. Reduce spending on takeaway and eating out (will work out a specific $$ goal).
  3. Put reminders about expiry dates of all gift cards into my phone calendar.
  4. No clothes shopping for me. I don’t regret buying new clothes in October because it was all necessary and thoughtful, but I don’t want it to become a habit.

No overall limit on my spending - I would LOVE for it to be a super expensive month, because I would LOVE IT if we got far enough along with garden plans to necessitate spending lots on that.


I’m in for this month! I played along silently in October and for the first time in many months, we stuck to our food budget. (…and by that I mean the 2 meals out that were over budget were discussed and allocated to our fun money rather than moving money from the savings category to the restaurant category)

We’re moving in November! Movers are already booked and paid for but we’re relocating a couple miles down the road to save a bunch of money on rent (which will mean less stress in the long run) and I really want this to be a cheap move. We’ve already paid for movers through Uhaul’s website so my additional moving related goals are:

  • Find free boxes
  • No new furniture/rugs/etc. for the new place in November (aka no mindless spending until we figure out how we actually want to use the space)
  • Transfer renters/car insurance addresses and use this as a time to shop around for cheaper rates
  • Have snacks and food plans ready for moving day so we don’t spend money on convenience when tired
  • Cancel internet/power/etc. for last day of the lease so we don’t overpay

Other money goals for November:

  • Rollover 2 old 401ks into current employers 401k. I have 3 and want to consolidate down to one before possibly getting new job in 2020
  • Work from home a few extra days this month (save $$ on gas! be happier! stop stressing about loosing good work reputation!)
  • Update resume and apply for any job that looks exciting, even if it’s a pay cut or not ‘prestigious’ enough

OK my more finalized goals:

  • Continue using YNAB and Toodledo
  • Mindful meal planning. Eat down some stuff in the freezer.
  • Stabilize my diet. Track what I’m eating and how I’m feeling. I’d like to reduce the number of days I don’t feel well by figuring out what is giving me problems. Hopefully this also reduces the days I eat everything in sight. Stability would help with meal planning. I sometimes buy extra because on those days when I eat all the things, I don’t want to find myself with nothing to eat.
  • Estimate what my grocery list is going to cost before I go shopping
  • Get 401k rolled over to Vanguard OR, if there’s some reason it would be better not to move it now, understand why and if it’d be better to move it later, establish a plan.

I may think of more but I’ll update if I do.


Official November goals:

  1. Groceries $260
  2. No more than $30 on going out to restaurants with friends. We aren’t expecting any going-out invitations this month but there’s a good chance someone will want to do something last minute. With a $30 limit we’re probably looking at only one outing, so once we spend it we need to either have people over at our house, go to their house, or meet at a free place like a park.

I’m so grateful that this is a facepunch-free zone, because my numbers are high! I’ve been looking at my recent spending; we’re averaging $863 a month on groceries and $552 on takeaway and eating out. We’re two adults and a toddler. Groceries includes household stuff; I can’t be bothered breaking that out so we track it all as one.

Please note that these are Aussie dollars, and costs are higher here, so while the numbers are high there’s no direct comparison possible with the US.

November budget:

  • Grocery spending no more than $700
  • Takeaway and eating out no more than $450

I think these are goals that will require a bit of work, but are still achievable for me.


I figured out that what is causing me stress is that I am so behind in what seem like insurmountable tasks. A lot of my record keeping and filing and stuff are at least 6 months behind. My room is stacks of stuff that need to be sorted. Laundry and papers and everything. I can reduce stress by tackling these things. Every day in November I will do one thing to catch up on my backlog. If I commit and am kept accountable I can have it all done by December. Watch me.


I could EASILY spend half your dollars on one person. So since you have 3 they aren’t crazy. Easily as in could also spend more. And my country touches other countries that touch other countries which must make things cheaper


Thanks Elle :heart: it’s reassuring to know I’m not completely wacky with my spending.