I've told you about the first time I read about a spending freeze on a blog. I rolled my eyes so hard I think I sprung an optic nerve.
Jason and I were already pretty frugal people and I just didn’t think we were wasting money in any one area.
Cut to February 2014. We were so close to getting out of debt I could taste it. We could see the finish line and we just needed a couple hundred dollars to pay off the remaining balance on Jason’s student loans.
That was when I implemented No Spenduary.
So I am issuing a NEW no spend challenge in February. (See, I'm giving you a few days notice because that's how I roll.)
Here is the challenge.
1. Two weeks of NO spending.
Not a whole month. Just two weeks. No eating out, no hitting up the coffee place (without a gift card, use those Swagbucks, girl!), no going on Target runs, no hitting up the thrift store "just to see." Nothing. No spending.
2. Eat from the pantry challenge
I am going to give myself a strict $35 a week grocery budget for fresh produce and milk. That's it. The rest of our meals are coming from our freezer and pantry.
3. Pick a place to put that saved cash
I've got some savings goals I want to hit by the end of March, so that means I have to hustle hard. You could put that money toward debt or another goal. It's your money and you get to decide.
Why are you doing this?
Because no spending challenge and public accountability force us to be intentional with our money. Make a list and stick to it.
You might think your budget is airtight, but there might be more leaks than you realize.
However, in order to have a truly successful no spend month, you need a plan.
1. Determine your biggest temptation
It is so easy to hit up the drive-through for breakfast or purchase that one ebook on Amazon. Or run through Starbucks. Determine whatever that temptation is and decide that for the next month you are going to avoid it at all costs.
2. Know it won't fix your problems
Here is the thing, it would be great if you went on a one-month spending freeze and then BOOM all your problems were solved. But life doesn't work that way. So it's important to take this as a time to spot where you're wasting money and implement a plan. How are you going to fix these bad habits going forward?
3. Set a goal
If you’re not spending money just to not spend money you might not be that successful. You’ve got to have a why behind the what, a reason for doing a no spending challenge.
Maybe that reason is one last debt to pay off or a big upcoming expense. Or maybe you need to pad your savings. But you’ve got to come up with a reason behind your actions.
But you need to have a plan!
1. Without a plan, spending freezes aren’t realistic.
If you go in with the mindset of “I’m not going to spend any money except on gas and my bills. I am not buying groceries and we are just staying home.” You might not be successful.
You have to have a plan in place. A meal plan around what’s in your pantry and a basic grocery budget, a plan for free fun for your family, and a contingency in case emergencies or the unexpected arise.
Before your freeze begins scan your pantry and freezer for meals ideas and decide when you will go to the supermarket and how much you will spend.
I would advise having some slow cooker meals ready to go. My favorite at the kinds you prep in advance and put in the freezer. Then you just pull them out and throw them in the crockpot.
Also, have an idea of what you'll do if an emergency arises, like a flat tire.
2. It doesn’t change the behavior.
This one is even bigger than the first one to me. It is akin to putting a band-aid on a disease and expecting that to fix the problem. You might save a ton of money, but if you don’t fit the initial problem that causes you to overspend or go into debt to begin with, you will just fall back into old patterns.
As a natural born spender, I have to work on my spending issues on a daily basis. Some days it’s easier than others. Before I go into a time of no spending I really have to think about what my spending triggers are and where I overspend or spend needlessly. (Dollar Spot, anyone???)
Before a spending freeze can start I have to focus on what caused me to overspend. Then as the spending freeze progresses and I feel the urge to buy something I don't need, I focus on how to stop this bad habit.
Just because your plan to go a whole month without extra spending failed, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it just means you need to rework your plan. Or develop a plan in the first place. And, you can’t just spring your spending freeze on your family and expect it to work. All the players have to understand the rules before you can begin the game.
What about you? Would you consider a no spending freeze?