One of my family’s “secrets” to becoming debt-free was using No Spend Months in order to generate a significant amount of money in our budget to throw at our debt. However, it wasn’t always easy. I mean it’s not always fun having to tell yourself no when you’re pregnant and really want some Chic-fil-a.
Anyway, so can a No Spend Month really help you get closer to your money goals? Definitely! But there’s a catch. You have to make the No Spend Month work for your family.
What is a No Spend Month?
Real quick, in case if you’ve never heard of a No Spend Month, let me break it down. A No Spend Month is a month where you do not purchase anything that is not grocery-related or transportation-related (fuel for your car or train/bus fare). You also spend no money outside of paying your usual bills.
That means there’s no going out to eat, no going to Happy Hour, and no buying anything that isn’t truly a necessity while at the grocery store. It also means no online shopping or impulse buying.
A No Spend Month isn’t about saving money.
Say what??? Yep. A No Spend Month isn’t about saving you money. It’s about changing your spending habits. The reality is that for most of us – our budgets fail not because we forget to account for something but because we don’t understand our own spending habits. A No Spend Month is the perfect way to help you identify all of your spending and money weaknesses.
Sure, will you probably be able to save money during your No Spend Month? Probably. But that’s not the point of doing a No Spend Month. A No Spend Month allows you to become crystal clear on how money flows in and out of your home. This clarity will help you be able to make better money decisions in the future. And this clarity is the whole reason I love No Spend Months!
Can a No Spend Month really help me?
Yes! Trust me, Pat and I would not have become 100% debt-free if we didn’t work our No Spend Months in our favor. Are No Spend Months easy? Not really but they’re also not as hard as they sound like. And to be honest with you, you can do anything for a month – it’s just a month.
So if you’re wanting to pay off debt, build up a savings account, or even save for a fancy vacation or something else fun, a No Spend Month is the perfect way to generate additional money from your income. Its kind of like those juice cleanses that everyone and their mama like to do periodically. A No Spend Month can “cleanse” you of your bad spending habits. It can also help you identify expenses that are no longer necessary, and can help you generate money quickly without having to take on a second job.
A No Spend Month can stop impulse buying.
I may be a Saver by nature, but even us Savers fall into the trap of impulse buying. I mean, it’s just so freaking easy! It can be hard to say no to all those deals that come your way regardless if you have the money or not. A No Spend Month helps you to stop the impulse purchasing because when you put yourself on a spending fast, you’ll become instantly aware of your impulses.
The best thing to do is to write down your impulses when they pop up. I quickly discovered during our first ever No Spend Month that Amazon Prime and Target were my two biggest impulses. I would think of something that we “needed” and immediately find myself on my phone searching on Amazon to see how much it was. What I didn’t realize was that this immediate action was actually causing me to buy impulsively. Honestly, I was going there to see what the price of the item was. I didn’t immediately go there to purchase, but that’s what I would end up doing.
So, I had to block Amazon from my phone and I avoided going into Target at all costs. So write down your impulses as you experience them so you’ll be more aware of them in the future.
You get to be more resourceful.
One of the best perks of doing a No Spend Month is that you get to creative! Not being able to rush out and go purchase whatever you think you need forces you to take stock of what you do have. It’s interesting to me how many times I would end up buying something at the store thinking we didn’t have it at home only to discover that we had two of them. When we stop and think and take inventory of what we already have in our homes we discover that we actually have way more than enough.
Spending triggers are identified.
Do you know what a spending trigger is? It’s something that triggers impulsive spending – for me I’m an emotional spender. So when I’m really emotional (negative emotions) I tend to overspend. It’s not a particular thing that I overspend on – I just overspend and buy things without even thinking about it. I have a friend who has spending trigger of “great deal” – meaning when something is marked down significantly she will totally jump on board and buy it. It doesn’t matter if she needs or even wants the item. The fact that it’s marked down triggers her spending.
By doing a No Spend Month you’ll become very aware of your spending triggers.
Not spending money means more time for other things.
It’s funny how we all think we don’t have enough time to do XYZ, but then when we remove something from our lives we discover we actually have a whole bunch of time! That’s what happened the first time we did a No Spend Month. We discovered we had a lot of time to do things. Like all those decluttering projects that we needed to – which of course resulted in us selling off that clutter and generating more income to throw at our debt payoff.
The other advantage is that we didn’t feel so deprived during our No Spend Month because when you’re decluttering you discover that you wasted a lot of money on stuff that didn’t matter.
So what do we need to do to prepare for a No Spend Month?
Honestly, there isn’t much you need to do to prepare for a No Spend Month. In fact, I highly recommend to don’t go crazy and decide to purchase anything and everything the day before you plan to start your No Spend Month. The reason behind this is because you want to get the most out of your No Spend Month. That’s only going to happen if you allow yourself to go through the process of not spending money willy-nilly.
So the only things I suggest you do to prepare for your No Spend Month is to:
- Create your budget. (I’m a pen-to-paper girl and use my budget printables in my budget binder but if you’re an online type, I really like Personal Capital)
- Make a list of goals for your No Spend Month. What do you hope to achieve by successfully completing a No Spend Challenge?
- Prepare your children. If your children are accustom to being able to grab whatever they want at the store or they’re used to doing a bunch of activities on the weekends, make sure you let them know that for the month of XYZ your family will be doing at-home activities. They probably aren’t going to be too happy about that, but by setting up the expectations beforehand it’ll make following through a whole lot easier.
- Unsubscribe/Unfollow. I highly recommend that you take some time before starting your No Spend Month and unsubscribe and unfollow the accounts that cause you to spend money. The last thing you want to do during your No Spend Month is to tempt yourself to spend money with enticing offers that come to you via email or social media.
If you want help successfully completing a No Spend Month, make sure you sign up for my FREE email series that is starting on January 1st! Go ahead and sign up here so you can be ready on New Year’s Day for our challenge! There will be a ton of printables to help you stay on track!
If you’ve done a No Spend Month before, share your best tips below!
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