A No Spend Month? What the heck is that???
Have you ever heard of a No Spend Month? If not, a No Spend Month is basically this, you go on a “spending fast” for 30-31 days where the only money you spend is to buy groceries (just grocery items – not makeup and other random things), pay your bills, and pay for your transportation (fuel for your car or bus/train fare).
The advantages to a No Spend Month are that you’ll be able to reign in bad spending habits that are getting out of control (especially if you do this after the holidays were you’ve in “buy, buy, and buy some more” mode). But I also know that a No Spend Month can be really challenging – especially for Spenders.
Naturally, I’m a Saver so even though I’ve struggled my way through a No Spend Month before, it’s easier for me because I can walk in a store see something I like for a great price, but decide I don’t need it and walk away – without buying it. My husband, a natural Spender, struggles with this – he sees the thing he wants and especially when it’s at a great deal and feels as though he cannot not buy it.
That’s not to say that Savers can’t be spenders and that Spenders can’t be savers, I’m just saying that there are different struggles for each of us. And those struggles all come out in the way of a No Spend Month – think of it as a way to identify money blind spots.
How do you participate in a No Spend Month?
Well, first you decide to do it. You pick the month you’re going to do a No Spend Month in (preferably one that doesn’t involve a lot of activities or events that require money). And you make a dedication to not spending any money during that month.
But let me back up a second. Before starting the No Spend Month, you may actually want to first contact an Annual Spending Review where you go through your spending from the year before. Yes, I know that sounds crazy, but it’s so beneficial! Case-in-point, in 2017 when I contacted our Annual Spending Review of that year, I realized that I (yes, I as in the Saver of my household) spent over $250 on books that year!
Insanity! So that led me to a no book buying year in 2018 and that $250 went all towards paying off our mortgage and becoming 100% debt-free!
The thing is, without doing that review, I wouldn’t have realized how much I was overall spending throughout the course of the year, because some months I didn’t buy any books and other months I bought only a couple for $9.99 each. But when you look at the overall picture, you can see the damage those small purchases can have when left unchecked.
So. let’s say that one of your big spending weaknesses is eating out. Trying to cut this out cold turkey may be very difficult, but it’s totally doable. Just make sure that when you’re buying groceries, you picking things that are easy to prepare – buy a rotisserie chicken instead of uncooked chicken to save you a step. Purchase a couple of frozen pizzas to help you out when you’re just having an “off day” and don’t feel like cooking. You could even plan a Tapas style night!
The great thing about the No Spend Month is that it teaches you how to make do with what you have instead always requiring more and more. I mean, how many times do we tell ourselves we need to declutter and then go out and buy more? This is the perfect way of truly discovering what you have on hand and using up the stuff lying around your home taking up space.
Don’t have a budget and have no idea where your money is going? Head here to read this post.
What to do with the savings?
Here’s the thing about a No Spend Month – it’s not really about the savings. It’s about identifying spending triggers and getting ahold of out-of-control spending habits. The savings that you save by not spending money is just a bonus.
With that said, I do encourage you to decide BEFORE you start your No Spend Month where or what you’re going to do with the money that you save from your No Spend Month. You could use it to pay off debt or put towards your Emergency Fund. Or if you prefer to do something more fun with it, put it towards a vacation that you’re planning. You get to decide what you’ll do with it!
What if I suck at this?
Okay, so most folks the first time they do a No Spend Month stumble at least once during their month-long sabbatical from spending. It happens. Forgive yourself and move on.
But I do recommend Ruth’s book Living Well and Spending Zero as it’s all about the No Spend Month and has incredible challenges and ideas for getting through your month long spending freeze!
Regardless if you complete the No Spend Month without stumbling or not, you’ve got this! Once you’ve identified the spending triggers and the spending habits, the next thing you have to work on is breaking those habits and forming better ones in order to achieve your money goals.
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