The steps for doing a No-Spend Month are ridiculously easy. The hard part? Will power. But you can do it. It’s really not difficult once you get out of the mindset of buying whatever you want. In a No-Spend Month, you buy what is necessary and that’s it. Don’t know what you spend on groceries? You’ll soon find out.
Here are the steps.
- Repurpose a box to store every receipt for a month. A shoe box, folder, or any receptacle that makes it easy for you to dump your receipts and go.
- Meticulously keep every receipt. If a store fails to give you one, ask. You need the paper trail.
- Track everything. This includes donations you give to the homeless guy on the corner. See my signup button below and get an Excel worksheet to track your expenses.
- At the end of the month, you’re going to dump the receipts onto a table and start sorting them by type. Groceries, Gas, Rent, Dining Out, (which should be minimal to non-existent), and Other (for things that can’t be easily categorized). You can also add categories to suit your needs, such as school, pharmaceuticals, or child care.
I don’t add things like rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance, or internet because those things are set items. The best you can do is lower your usage of utilities and renegotiate your insurance.
The stuff that usually wrecks our budget are groceries and eating out. Cutting dining out is easy. Just don’t do it.
Groceries require more creativity. Since I keep my pantry and freezer full, I expect this year’s No-Spend Month to be relatively frugal. Fresh fruit, veggies, and bread will be our main buys–unless our store has a super sale on things we buy regularly.
If you’re serious about cutting back, this works. I swear by it. It makes us more mindful about where the money is going, and the momentum keeps going long after it’s over.
We are retired which means we live entirely on our savings. No-Spend Months are critical for us, especially if we’ve had a bad year.
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