Bottom line: I spent a lot of money, but most was not from my spending plan. I bought stuff using money earmarked from my tax refund for spending, from savings accounts and even from my found money account all in the name of house, garden and bettering myself. These are not poor reasons or bad choices, but in the end, reflect badly on the spirit of the challenge. For example, I gave myself an out when buying new window treatments. I will be replacing my windows within a month and intended on replacing the current blinds. I saw JCPenney had the items I was interested in on sale, I saw what I wanted and ordered it so I could have the replacement Roman shades in hand before the windows were installed.
I may try this financial challenge again, but in the winter months when I have less of a tendency to spend money. This strategy might be considered cheating, but choosing a month as gardening season is gearing up and the homeowner's mind turns to "now what should I fix/repair/maintain on my house" prevented me from taking full advantage of the savings boost I could incur from not using money within my spending plan. Saving money is a bonus whether it is easier in the winter or not.
In total, I was able to put away $64.35 in my savings accounts. This was split between my car savings ($60) and my found money ($4.35). This is just over 25% of what I could have potentially saved, but again, I foiled myself with some once-a-year expenses (e.g., tickets to see an outdoor play with a friend), laziness (i.e., paid for four lunches and two snacks) and yielding to cravings (e.g., chocolate).
However, I managed to resist the temptation of new computer hardware, a new MacBook Pro, and applied for a stipend at work that would go toward the cost of my high-speed internet. This decreases the burden on my spending plan and increases the possibility for me to save money. While I am still waiting to hear about the latter, I consider this money challenge a success since I could have shortchanged myself and bought a high-priced item that I desired but did not need.
As for the other items I did buy, I believe the gardening supplies are an expansion of my growing opportunities; the bicycle helmet, another step closer to being more fit; and the window treatments, a small house improvement that does not break the bank. While they all cost money, they have the potential to save me money in the long run.
While my no-spending month was a challenge with mixed results, I come out on the plus side with a bit extra money going to savings. My hope is the future will yield more for my bottom line and I reflect if I truly need an item before purchasing it.