No Spend Month Tips
Several times a year, I commit to doing 30 days of no-spending (on non-essentials) – a No Spend Month. This past April, after our month of traveling we completed a 30-day no spending challenge. We decreased our spending a lot during the month, but we definitely had a couple slip ups. Despite our rule not to eat out we did twice. We also had a couple unexpected expenses come up (kids summer camp sign-ups that I spaced, etc.).
So, how do you do your own No Spend Month?
First, its best to schedule it during a month when you are mostly going to be home & not traveling (I find it a bit easier to eliminate potential spending issues that way).
Secondly, we are obviously still paying our bills and feeding our family during this month (although I stick to a lower per week grocery budget and try to use up what we have stockpiled in the freezer & pantry).
But before you get started, here are a few things we like to do.
Review your current budget & expenses. Note any non-essential spending that has occured over the previous few months you want to take control of during your No Spend Month.
Write down your goals. The clearer your goals are, the better you’ll be able to achieve them. Use the amount you save this month to come up with a savings goal or a debt payment goal.
Look at what you have. Look through your pantry, freezer & closets and see what you’ have stockpiled… canned food, meat in the freezer, birthday party gifts, cards, etc. Whatever you have extra of, make a note that you’re fully stocked so you don’t keep making unnecessary purchases. It’s also a great idea to write out a list of what you have in the kitchen, and try to meal plan to use up whatever you can.
Plan for any upcoming events & expenses. Check out your planner and see what your month looks like. Maybe you have a relative’s birthday party coming up or a school fundraiser to attend. Think about what your plans will entail, and allocate for them on your list with a set budget. If you have social activities, invite friends over for a potluck instead of meeting out for drinks or dinner.
Get your family on board. I like to include the whole family in on this challenge – it’s a great way to actively demonstrate needs vs. wants to the kids.
Track. Track your daily spending & success in the 30 day challenge section of your planner.
Write down a wish list. If something comes up that you really want to purchase this month, I make a note of it in my planner. When the month is up, if I’m still wanting it I can buy it but more often than not, my interest & need have waned while waiting.
Put your Credit Cards away & use cash. I typically use Credit cards (and pay them off every month – I love the travel points) but during No Spend Month I put them away (in the safe) and use cash or our debit card. This helps prevent impulse purchases.
Avoid stores. Especially Target. 🙂 If there is something that one of us needs (eg. a white shirt for a school performance I try the thrift stores first – most of the time I can find what I need at the fraction of the cost and buying second hand is so good for the planet). But avoid going into stores if at all possible during the month.
Unsubscribe. Unsubscribe from emails and social media posts that are shopping triggers for you.
Use up what you have or go without. It’s a great ideal to meal plan to use up the food in your kitchen and adhere to your grocery budget. Use up what you have around the house instead of buying more. You may need to get creative (like using up all of those mini hotel shampoo bottles you have stashed when you run out of your regular shampoo).
Get rid of stuff around the house. Do some purging while you are at it. Decluttering your home will show you just how much you already have and motivate you not to buy more. This is one of the best things that comes out of our no-spend months.
Have you attempted or completed a No Spend Month before?