You know the feeling – usually it comes after a big night out. You feel the need to push the reset button and start treating yourself right. In most cases, you’ll drink some sort of green smoothie, eat a greasy breakfast or go on some sort of juice cleanse.
While this may only be a band-aid fix, the motivation behind it, and the concept itself is sound. If you’ve been wondering how to save money, (or at least how to not spend money) using this logic in the form of a ‘no-spend month’ might be just the ticket.
What is a no-spend month?
Basically, it’s an attempt to really analyse your spending and saving patterns, and pair back some of your bad habits. It’s not living like a monk for a month, but rather reducing your spending back to a bare minimum in an attempt to re-frame the way you manage your money.
Why try a no-spend month?
- You’ll be watching your spending closely, meaning you’ll be less likely to impulse buy.
- You’ll reduce food waste by using what you have rather than ordering take-out and letting the food in your fridge go bad.
- Thriftiness forces you to be creative and work with what’s available – in the kitchen, in your wardrobe, etc.
- No more online/real-world shopping, or de-cluttering your house because of all your excess purchases.
- At the end of the month, ideally, you’ll be thinking twice about every dollar you spend, meaning better value for money and more available for saving.
Why not try a no-spend month?
- Often you’ll be tempted to splurge before or after your financial fast, as a result of your pent-up spending potential.
- If everyone’s not 100% on board, it can lead to relationship or family tension.
- If you don’t properly set up the rules, separating needs from wants, you might accidentally go without something you need.
How to make the most of your no-spend month?
- Know the rules and talk it through - The most important thing when planning a financial fast. First, make sure everyone in the house is on-board, as there’s no use starting if one of you has doubts. Stay focused on the fact that the exercise will have a positive outcome – set yourself a savings goal for the month and decide what this money will be used for, like a holiday, or family activity – something fun! Establishing your rules is also vital. Be very specific about what type of spending the financial fast is designed to limit, and lay out what is still OK to buy. For example, if you have plans during the month, will you still go ahead with these?
- Prepare for needs - A great thing about a financial fast is it helps you separate needs from wants. You should prepare for the bare essentials you’ll still have to purchase during the month, like groceries, medication, fuel, pet supplies, etc. Check your supplies before the month begins to see what your stock levels are like, but by no means go out on day 1 and buy a month worth of supplies – this may lead to waste if it’s not all used, or if you burn through it all, you may need to make additional, unnecessary trips to the mall.
- Entertainment - Planning some no-spend activities for the month ahead of time is a great idea. If you have any gift-cards around the house, now might be the time to cash them in, or maybe you’ve got a low-cost DIY home reno project you’ve been putting off? Even things like planning family time (at the beach, park or around the house) is great, as it gets you out of the mindset that spending money is vital to bonding together. Plus, planning fun stuff to do ahead of time can help selling the concept if your spouse or kids have initial doubts.
- Stay motivated - It’s important for you and your family to be reminded why you’re financially fasting during your no-spend month. If you’ve set a savings goal, like a holiday, use the time during the month to start planning this together. As the driver for changing habits, it falls to you to always be positive about the change, and to keep morale high among the troops. Focusing on the positives that are going to come out of this experiment will help everyone stay motivated, and will take their attention off the fact that by comparison to old habits, they feel they’re going without.