A No-Spend Month, Circa 2018

No Spend Month Copyright: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/profile_photografier'>photografier / 123RF Stock Photo</a>Nothing makes me want to hunker down than the start of a new year. When the old year closes, it’s good to start the new year with an assessment of what needs to be done and treat any monetary wounds right off. For us, it’s the perfect time to have a No-Spend Month.

We had more than our share of bills last year. Part of it was due to Nana, the border collie who wants to rule the world, but another bite came from the last of a staggering debt when we remodeled the kitchen. There was also the property tax bill which is always enormous despite our homestead deduction, and insurance.

While we always keep a vested account to pay for these things, we’re always very aware of our “cushion”. As retired people, we live on our savings, which means we monitor the level closely.

Nana’s surgery took us by surprise. It was a large expense, but hey, we kinda like that dog. πŸ™‚ Another surprise was that Greg wanted to pay off the last of our remodeling debt. We still had over a year to pay it off without interest, but he wanted it gone.

That’s always fine by me. I hate having any debt hanging over my head. Now the money that would’ve gone to that debt goes right back to our savings.

If we didn’t do anything more, our cushion should be nice and plump by next year, but we like to practice a No-Spend Month every so often to hurry that along.

For us, a No-Spend Month means that we will not go out to eat, drink, or snack at outside establishments. We buy nothing new and nothing unnecessary. For instance, if I wanted to splurge on a pair of jeans or a movie, it would have to wait until February.

In a typical No-Spend Month we can buy food and medicine. Emergency repairs and replacements are also allowed for things like appliances and cars.

Non-essential items–and there are many that are invisible unless we pay attention–must wait until after the spending moratorium ends.

I find No-Spend Months easier when you have a willing partner. We keep each other honest. With each of us watching the other, we’re less likely to fall into the potholes of everyday spending.

Some people find it difficult, but it’s sort of fun if you turn it into a game. We know it’s not forever and we know we’re not deprived. All we’re doing is postponing a debt for another day.

The irony about our month long spending freeze is that many times whatever it was we yearned for in January was hardly ever important enough to buy in February. As careful as we are with money, we’re just as guilty of being unintentionally frivolous.

Think about it. Do we really remember the hamburger we bought at the spur of the moment? Did we suffer mental anguish for not seeing a movie right away?

Some people go on diets at the first of the year. We do too, only it’s a spending diet. Believe me, it’s infinitely easier than losing weight. πŸ˜€

Have you ever tried a spending diet?

See how we did on last year’s No-Spend Month.

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  1. Having a partner who is on the same page money-wise is huge.

    I think the fact you do the “no spend” for a month – meaning there’s an end in sight – is key. People could even try it for a week at first – skip lunch out or the fancy coffees, etc – if a month feels daunting.

    • Madeline: I always suggest that if you can’t make it for one month, at least try one week without spending. It’s a dire reflection of our society that most of us can’t go even a week without spending money, but that’s how we’ve evolved. I feel sorrier for the generations after us.

  2. Now, see, I would NOT pay off a debt that was interest free. I learned that in college (economics, I believe). Use the other person’s money for free as long as you can!

    As for a no spend month, I doubt that will ever happen. At least not until Hubby retires. Plus, he knows I hate cooking, so he doesn’t push for me to do that. I have to show him I’m okay with cooking certain things. And I’m hoping to do that this year (for at least once or twice a week). Having a new kitchen in our future might help in that regard!

    • Stacy:
      re: I would NOT pay off a debt that was interest free….Use the other person’s money for free as long as you can!

      Yes and no. The money was there regardless. No bank-held funds earn interest anymore so it’s not like it’s worth more in the bank.

      That might make more sense to people who are earning a salary, but we’re living off our savings. To be more specific, we’re living off the interest of our stocks, so any money we can put back into our savings becomes a liquid asset.

      In the end, we used the interest-free perk for about a year. It was enough time to pay off the debt without any burden to us.

  3. Jenny Schwartz

    Living frugally has its advantages. Things that other people simply have everyday, you learn to appreciate. So, for instance, for me buying a coffee when I’m out is an indulgence, not something I just do daily. I like to think it helps with that whole stop-and-be-grateful thing.

    • Jenny: That is so true! It’s because I don’t buy every little thing that strikes my fancy that it means more when I do decide to get it.

      I’ve found too, that the older I get, the less likely I want to accumulate things that need to be cleaned.

  4. Angela Brown

    The “No-Spend for a month” sounds like it would be interesting to try. The kiddo and I will have a two – three week period here and thre where we challenge each other to not eat out or ask about eating out. Keeping each other honest can get pretty dramatic sometimes, but we do alright. Perhaps we can graduate to a No-Spend for a month diet. I’ll have a talk with her about it.

    • Angela: I won’t lie. A month is hard. What really helps is not going out. There is so much temptation. πŸ™‚

      But right now, it’s cold and miserable. After we tend the animals, we settle down to a movie marathon–or a cooking marathon, anything we can do indoors. If the weather isn’t too bad we’ll get some much needed outside chores done. Busy hands aren’t tempted to check out the sales or see what’s new.

      One week is relatively easy. After two weeks it starts to get harder, but if you can make it past three weeks, the fourth weeks flies by.

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