If you are like most Americans, you might be suffering from a post holiday financial hangover. If you are, be sure to check out my post on how to prevent a holiday financial hangover. In the meantime, one way to get your budget back in shape is a no spend month. A no spend month is exactly what it sounds like, a month with no spending. Does that mean you don’t buy anything? No, it means you only spend money on absolute necessities and nothing extra. My husband and I tried our first one last year and it was a great experience, so we are doing it again.
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Before starting a no spend month, a good resource to check out is Living Well Spending Zero by Ruth Soukup.This book was a quick and easy read. Ruth has some terrific ideas that we implemented right away. This book is a great resource for anyone looking to save money, organize their life and have a little fun. Stay at home moms will probably be able to work through it faster than working moms, but it is totally doable. There is no rule that says you must do it all in the 31 days that Ruth does.
Another great resource is My Depth Year 2018: The Constraints of Deep Focus by Zen Habits. This article discusses how to find value in the life you already have and not spend further on items you don’t need.
Do you need inspiration for your no spend month? Imagine doing a no spend year and be inspired by Ann Patchett’s story in My Year of No Shopping.
Need more help cutting your consumer spending? Check out Joshua Becker’s blog Becoming Minimalist. You may not want to make changes this drastic, but Joshua has great insight on cutting the clutter and spending in your life.
Track all your spending
Pick a way to keep track of your expenses. I would suggest a simple notebook or spreadsheet. If you want to, find a phone app that will do it too. You have to know where your money is going. If you see where it goes you will have a better chance of stopping it from exiting.
Ask yourself “do I really need this?”.
I love a good bargain and I get that same adrenaline high you do when I know I have scored a good deal. However, now is not the time to bargain hunt. Tell yourself you can only snag bargains on groceries and it has to be items you need. For most items, more than likely they will still be there next month. If it is not, it wasn’t meant to be.
Learn to say no
When you want to control your spending and save money you have got to learn to say no. You will have to say no to requests from your kids, you will have to say no to evenings out with friends, and resist the temptation to eat out. If you can fight the impulse to go spend money you will be surprised at how much you save.
If you are going to keep yourself from spending, you have to find other ways to occupy the time you might otherwise spend going to stores or restaurants. Now might be the time to read a book you own or restart a hobby that is gathering dust. Find ways to rearrange, redecorate or reorganize a room in your home without shopping for new items. Pack a picnic lunch and go enjoy it with your family, explore as many new parks in your area as you can, have a garage sale or a board game night. Need more ideas? Check out this post
If you have a competitive streak, now is the time to bring it out. Make debt and spending your opponent and decide that you will conquer them. You can win this. It is all about mindset.
We are all human and we all mistakes. So even if your no spend month isn’t perfect, it will be better than the months you overspend. Give yourself a break if you mess up and get back on track as soon as possible.
Get Started Now!
I encourage everyone to try a “no spend” month if you get the chance because it will really teach you about your habits with money. We plan to continue the no spend ideas as much as possible the rest of the year and participate in more no spend months. I have always enjoyed getting a bargain, but finding ways to have fun without spending was a great challenge too.
So what are you waiting for? There’s no time like the present!