Use these tips for a successful no-spend month to boost savings, tackle some debt, and stop clutter from invading your home.
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Some years, no matter how hard you try, your holiday spending may have thrown your finances out of whack.
Or maybe you’re ready to cut down on the number of unnecessary things you’re bringing into your home.
Either way, as the new year begins, it might be time to try for a no-spend month.
I tried my first one last year and it was a medium-sized success. Some things went well; some things just didn’t go right at all.
But, this winter, when I go for another no-spend month, I plan to do a few things differently.
These are the tips for a successful no-spend month that I’m going to use this time around.
Look at your month realistically
The first step to a successful no-spend month is choosing the right month. If there’s lots of birthdays or a major holiday for your family, it might make the no-spend idea really difficult to pull off. January and March are the best months for our family, so that’s going to be what I aim for.
Set up your spending rules
Not everyone’s rules for a no-spend month are the same. For instance, you may decide to allow yourself a couple of meals out, because that is an important bonding time for your family. Or you may be ok with a certain amount for entertainment, clothing, or toiletries. Others may decide to go cold-turkey on spending.
The point is to decide what’s best for you and your family. If you’re unrealistic with what matters the most to you, you’re bound to have slip-ups and get discouraged.
Prepare in the months before
There’s no shame in a little preparation. Especially if those last-minute dashes to the store for necessities always results in picking up more than you need. So if your budget allows, build up pantry before your no-spend month. Maybe stock up on paper goods or toiletries. Do whatever it takes to keep you out of stores once your official no-spend month begins.
Have a specific goal
Maybe you want to build up your savings, Maybe it’s to pay off a chunk of debt. No matter the reasons for your no-spend month, having a goal can help you focus and keep you motivated. So write it down and put that goal somewhere that you’re going to see it
Figure out spending triggers
There are always some items that you pick up without even meaning to. For example, I can’t walk into a craft store without grabbing at least 3 things I didn’t intend on buying. Craft supplies are a huge spending trigger for me! I have to just stay out of those stores!
If you find yourself going off your list when you’re food shopping, try online grocery shopping. It’s much easier to stick to what you need and stay on budget. In our area, we don’t have a ton of options for grocery pick-up, but I’ve been able to order from a Walmart about 20 minutes away a couple of times in the last year, and I find it really easy to manage exactly what goes into my cart.
Steer clear of online temptation
Every day, as soon as we open our emails, we are bombarded with notices of “last chance sales” and “can’t miss items”! These ads are designed to be hard to resist and they work. It’s practically effortless to click a few buttons on your phone and buy whatever you want in the world.
If easy online shopping reels you in, take some time in the weeks before your no-spend month to delete store emails as they come. Think about deleting store apps, too. You can always reinstall them later.
Make a list of no-spend entertainment alternatives
Check out your local libraries for books, movies, or special free programming to keep you entertained. I always have a list of craft ideas I wanted to try and a pile of thrift store makeovers I’ve been trying to get to. No-spend months are the perfect time to get those things crossed off my list.
Give yourself some grace
Things will come up. Something might break or your kids might get invited to a birthday party. You may have to end up spending on something, but that doesn’t mean you need to give up! Give yourself some grace and an ounce of forgiveness and keep trying. Any dollar you can save is worth it!
All of these tips for a successful no-spend month can also help reign in your spending year-round.
Maybe you’ll find one or two that you really like and start practicing it today.
Even if you’re not planning on tackling an entire no-spend month, just a few little changes can really make a difference!