If you’ve read this blog for any length of time you probably know that I am a fan of the spending freeze. In fact, during our first spending freeze in February 2014, Jason and I paid off the last of our debt.
However, as much as I think a no-spending period is worth the effort, I know they are not for everyone.
In fact, I have gotten countless emails and comments telling me "I tried a spending freeze, but it didn't work because (fill in the blank)."
There are two reasons a spending freeze usually doesn't work:
1. Without a plan, they 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? Have you tried a spending freeze? Did it work?