Welcome 2017! I intend to have a good year and to hell with the naysayers.
Every once in a while we have a “No Spend” month. For us, they generally occur in the summer, but I thought we’d start the year out right, and have a No Spend January.
I’m doing this for several reasons.
- We spent a lot of money in 2016. We paid off a house, bought new cabinets, and went on a mini vacation.
- Putting a halt to spending after the holidays feels like a natural pause in this cycle we call consumerism.
- January is cold in Texas. That makes it easy for us to use that month to cocoon and curtail spending.
The rules are simple. You buy nothing unless it’s necessary. Basically, this limits you to your regular monthly bills, groceries, and fuel for the car.
This means no expenses for clothing, eating out, cocktails, (coffeehouse) coffees, movies, manicures, massages, or impromptu getaways.
It’s a shock at first, but it goes by faster than you think. Once you’ve done it, it’s ridiculously easier the next time.
You come to realize that you didn’t miss that fancy coffee all that much, and your friends could just as easily bring a bottle to your house while you watch a dvd, or talk about that book you both got for Christmas.
Eating out is a major obstacle for us. It helps now that we have a menu to follow every week, but if we’re caught far from home at mealtime, we still eat out. This January that becomes verboten. I will catch some serious grief from Greg because he REALLY likes to eat out, but it’s only one month. How bad can it be? I guess we’ll find out. 🙂
Doing a “No Spend” month will do a couple of things for you. Aside from saving money–and who doesn’t need that after hemorrhaging all that moola for Christmas–you learn where your spending leaks lie.
It’s a sobering report card on how you’re doing financially.
The first time we did this, I was shocked at all the “little” money I spent on things that were otherwise ignored. If Greg buys a coffee, I had to buy a cranberry muffin. If we went to the movies, add another ten bucks for popcorn and drinks, or dinner afterward.
There’s a dollar for a can of Coke. Five bucks for that dvd in the clearance bin. Ten dollars for that new wine Greg found. Fifteen dollars for that book that caught my fancy. It all adds up.
That’s the irony. I thought it was the big things that hurt our savings and that’s totally not true. It’s the little things that we never ever notice because it’s just a few bucks. What will it hurt? Right?
For one month, thirty whole days, we stop.
From experience, I know that there will be a LOT more in my bank account. We simply don’t realize how much we spend on the little things, or how fast they add up. I also know it might feel like sacrifice (in the beginning) but that only proves how spoiled we are at getting what we want when we want it.
Try it once (without cheating) and compare your results with a normal month. Even when you think you’re on a strict budget, a No Spend Month will show you how many things are really hidden luxuries in your life.
Could you do a spending freeze for thirty days? Have you ever done it?
What’s on tap for 2017? We have a few not-so-nice things we need to get done this year, but the sooner they’re done, the sooner we can go do the things we want to do. More on that in the next post.