8 Steps to Complete a No-Spend Month
Too. Much. Stuff. It’s that simple and it applies to nearly everyone.
But wouldn’t you just love to have a little bit more cash to travel, pay off your mortgage or help out your kids?
With this in mind, why not set yourself the goal of having a No-Spend Month? Sounds daunting? Just try it for a day, then a week or two before aiming at a full month.
An initial short no-spend period will give you a better idea of how much money you actually need and, what’s more, how much you waste. Saving a euro here and a euro there won’t seem like much, but you’ll soon find your way towards your goal.
Don’t think that a no-spend month means you’ll need to talk to your bank manager to not pay the mortgage, rather it’s all about those smaller amounts that eat up your available cash.
Here are our top tips on how to send your budget to boot camp and make sure you meet your 7/15/30 day no spending (except for essentials) goal. No cheating allowed!
1. Get everyone involved
If you’re the only one in the house taking part in a no-spend challenge, it won’t take long to give up.
Get all family members on board. See who can come up with the most creative ways to not spend. Rather than a challenge, which can seem pretty negative, see it as a game.
Remember: you don’t need to spend money to have fun.
You probably think you don’t spend much, so spend the month before collecting all the receipts for everything, and we mean everything, you buy.
How often have you gone to the ATM at the beginning of the month only to wonder where all the money went some days later?
Finding where you splurge, and can cut back painlessly, will be the best start to your challenge.
3. Have an end goal in sight
Deciding to not spend is not much fun, so set a goal. Remember: the more money you spend, the less you’ll have for your goal.
Let’s say you’re saving for the holiday of a lifetime, why not set your goal to travel in business class?
Make sure you place strategic reminders of your goal around the home. With our holiday example, change your computer background screen to your chosen destination and put a picture of huge comfy business class airline seats on your fridge door.
4. Don’t shop when you’re bored (or hungry!)
Get out your diary for your no-spend month and fill it with dates to spend more time with friends and family. Don’t meet up at Starbucks – that defeats the point! Keeping busy will keep you away from the shops.
Even though grocery shopping is essential, just buy the basics such as fresh fruit and veg. Make a list and stick to it, no exceptions.
Check your freezer and storage cupboards. Frozen chicken still there from three months ago? Use it. Weird sauce that you bought from that quirky store? Get online and find a recipe.
And don’t cheat by stocking up your fridge and pantry in advance with non-essential treats.
5. No online shopping allowed
It’s so easy to go online; it doesn’t even feel like real shopping. With one-click options at Amazon (and more stores) spending money is just one tap of the finger away.
When you receive promo emails about a fantastic sale or free shipping, just delete without reading to avoid temptation.
6. Start a new (free) hobby
There are 1000’s of free online courses that you can choose to follow. A great starting point is FutureLearn.com, with courses from languages to history to thermodynamics.
Taking a course is a great way to spend time, increase your knowledge and, who knows, maybe take your life in a whole new direction. Most importantly, time spent studying means less time to go out spending.
Don’t want to study? Download free books to read or visit your local library. Free podcasts are also a great way to spend time and leave your hands free to sort out the garden or ironing.
7. Sort out your stuff
Take a look around your home and garage. How much stuff do you actually use?
Blitz a different room each day and sort everything into three piles: sell, donate and recycle/trash.
If you manage to make money by selling items, then you can put it towards your goal.
How often do you automatically take the car, even if you don’t really need to?
You’ll have to plan your no-spend month wisely to use the one full tank of petrol you have available – no refilling allowed!
Leave the car behind, walk and enjoy your surroundings. If you’ve downloaded a podcast or two, time will fly by.