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Thinking about doing a no spend month?
If you’re looking for a way to increase your savings account, a no-spend month might be what you need. Challenging yourself to a no-spend month can help you learn where you can save money each month.
But before you take on a no-spend challenge, you have to prepare yourself for success.
A no-spend month has to have some rules. You must pay for your necessities, like your rent, car payment, utilities, and food. To succeed, you have to decide what you will not spend money on during your no-spend month. You should also decide why you want to challenge yourself to save money rather than spend it.
Make a List of Necessities
Before you begin your no-spend month, make a list of your recurring expenses. These are the things that you must have, like your rent and car. They also include your mobile phone, Wi-Fi, and subscription services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. In a no-spend month, you cut out spending on things that don’t add value to your life.
So, in your no-spend month, you do not have to cut your Amazon Prime subscription. But, you should cut out renting movies that aren’t included in your monthly subscription. Consider setting a baseline for your food spending, and consider not going out to eat or buying coffees every day. Your no-spend month could include brewing your own coffee and making your own lunches.
Just be careful when doing this step. You can’t deem everything a “necessity” or you won’t save anything. Try to challenge yourself as much as you can without sabotaging the challenge.
Consider Why You Want to Complete the Challenge
Taking on the no-spend month challenge should help you save money. But, most importantly, the challenge should help you change your habits. You might be tired of renting, and you want to save money to buy your own home. You might want to pay off debt and get better with your finances.
Hopefully, a no-spend month will help you set and achieve your short and long-term goals.
Learning how to live with less is a popular goal for many people who undertake the no-spend challenge. Things cost money, and those things take away from savings accounts.
If you can learn to save more and buy less, your savings account grows, and you can better prepare for the future. Most people do not want to work their entire lives, so setting aside more money each month toward retirement is a smart idea.
Set and Record Your Goal
If you’re going to succeed at a no-spend month, you have to set a goal. Then, you have to write down your goal. The ultimate goal for the month is not to spend money on unnecessary things.
Many people share their goals with their friends and family so that they can get their support. Putting a goal in writing and saying it aloud often helps cement in your psyche.
The next step after setting and recording the goal is to take it one day at a time. You will still need to eat and go to work, so you will need to buy food and fill your vehicle with gas. Set a limit for these expenses so you don’t wind up with ‘extra.’
When you go to the grocery store, you must only buy necessities and items you know you will consume; no treats. Outline your basic staples as part of your goal-setting.
When you get in your car, you must decide what places are off-limits. You can spend money on gas to get to work, the grocery store, and other necessary locations. But, during a no-spend month, you do not drive anywhere that you do not need to go.
Stay Away from the Temptations
To avoid spending unnecessarily, you have to stay away from the temptations. Yes, it sounds easier than it is right? But for example, if you normally get a $4 coffee on the way to work, try taking a different route that does not include a coffee-shop drive-by and make a cup at home. If you love to shop online, turn off mobile-phone notifications about your favorite online shops and unsubscribe from their emails (you can always resubscribe later).
You can also avoid temptations by doing meal planning. Schedule your breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day to not be tempted to call for takeout. Have all of the necessary ingredients in the house to avoid quick trips to the grocery store that later add up.
You can use a website or app like Supercook which will find you matching recipes for whatever ingredients you have on hand! Just type in the ingredients you have in your home and see what pops up.
Keep Track of Your Progress
Recording your progress can help you stay on track. You can do this in several ways, but you should record it in a visually appealing way.
Print a calendar for the month or use a spending tracker and draw a big X in each square that you do not spend money on unnecessary things. Having a visual to see your progress as you go through the month is helpful and will keep you motivated and on track.
Remember you’re setting your own rules for your no-spend month, but you’ll still need to follow those self-imposed rules or else it defeats the purpose.
Keep Yourself Busy
If you find that you spend money when you are bored, you will need to find things to do that keep you busy. Most communities have free activities every day. You should be able to find activities at your local library or community parks. Otherwise, remember that walking, reading, and listening to music are free.
When you’re building your list of necessities, you can keep activities that are important to you. For example, if you go to yoga classes several times per month, you can keep doing that during your no-spend month. Just don’t buy a new mat or pair of yoga pants this month!
However, if you’re working hard to reduce expenses, you can use your no-spend experience to broaden your horizons. Learning about free activities, podcasts, and other opportunities can’t hurt. If you’ve been taking yoga classes for years, you probably know how to practice on your own so that you could cut out that $100 monthly membership. It’s up to you!
What if You Slip Up and Spend?
If you have one day where maybe you slipped up and grabbed a coffee or snack (it happens to the best of us) don’t let it deter you! Keep on going!
The point of tracking your no-spend days is seeing your progress. Just don’t mark that day off as complete and continue on with the challenge. At the end of the month you may have one or two days not checked off and that is fine.
The point of a no spend challenge is to not only save money but to also recognize and change your spending habits. Plus you can always do another month challenge or continue the challenge a few more days to cover the days you “messed up”.
What Happens When the Month is Done?
After you’ve completed your first no-spend month, congratulate yourself and then decide what to do next. Take a good look at your finances so you can see how much you have saved by spending money only on necessities. You get to decide if you want to continue or return to your old ways.
You might find it rewarding to see your savings account grow, so you continue your new no-spend habits to reach your next big financial goal. I find that most people will start to spend less once they see the results of their no-spend month.
What you don’t want to do is go on a shopping spree or binge eat out after your no spend month is done. I suggest slowly adding things back in. You may find a lot of the things you were spending money on you don’t miss.
Hope this guide to doing a no spend month has helped you! Let me know in the comments if you plan on doing a no-spend month or have done one in the past.