I chose to do a “no spend” month with my family this March and I decided to share everything about what I learned, how it went, and why I think everyone should try it too.
I have been much more minimal and intentional with my spending since my MS diagnosis in 2017. I knew I had way too much stuff and I purged my house like a crazy woman. 🙂
Since we are a one income family, we have to be smart about our spending. We are very lucky to have no debt thanks to our parents paying for our college and also never buying anything we don’t have cash for…except for our house. We started to notice that we were often spending ALL of my husband’s paycheck each month and although we have savings as a safety net, we didn’t like that spending pattern.
So this is where a “no spend” month comes in. I’m not promising that one month of no spending will get you out of your 15,000 dollars of debt, but it’s a start. 🙂 I am promising you that a “no spend” month will make you VERY aware of your spending habits and help you realize where you can cut back in the future.
Now I know that some of you may not be able to relate to my story. You might be in debt up to your eyeballs and you want to find a new way to live. Some of you might have so much money, you’re using dollar bills to blow your nose. We all are in different financial situations but I bet we all have something in common…we would like a little extra money at the end of the month.
Maybe you want some extra cash for traveling. Maybe you want some extra money to buy a new car. Maybe you just want to build up your savings or get out of debt. No matter what your reason is for a “no spend” month, I’ve got some tips and tricks to make it a success.
Talk with your family about the rules and expectations of the “no spend” month. I brought the idea to my husband and he loved it and then we told our kids. Our son, who is 6, wasn’t very excited about it obviously but we told him anyways so that when we all of a sudden weren’t eating out or buying anything, he knew why.
I also told my other family and friends so that they would know and understand if I didn’t go to lunch with them or go shopping with them. They probably thought I was a weirdo but they respected what I was doing. If someone is not supportive after you explain why you are not spending money for a month, just direct them to this blog post. They’ll see how much I saved, how much you saved, and they’ll be doing a “no spend” month too. 🙂
Create rules for yourself for your “no spend” month as a family. We sat down and talked about how we wanted to do it and then made ourselves a set of guidelines to live by for the next 31 days. I’ve seen lots of “no spend” rules floating around the internet but you need to come up with your own set of rules that work for your family.
Our rules were:
We could only eat out at a restaurant once a week as a complete family.
We could spend money on groceries, bills, gas, church contribution, and one weekly restaurant meal. That was it.
We couldn’t shop on Amazon Prime at all.
Me and my husband each got $50 to spend on something random during the month…which my husband still has and I spent mine on the third day of the month. 🙂
Use grocery pick up if it’s available in your town. Don’t go into the stores that sell more than just groceries if grocery pick up is not available to you. Avoiding the clothing or decorative sections of stores makes this challenge much easier. I went into Target only once during my “no spend” month and I wanted to look at every single item in the “dollar spot” at Target but I knew I didn’t have the self control. 🙂 Know what your stores are that you just need to avoid all together and don’t go in during that month. I missed HomeGoods in March but now I only am going to go in when I’m actually looking for something specific.
Leave your money in the car or at home. I went to a big shopping fair with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law and I didn’t even take my wallet with me. I went into Target with them too…which is my weakness… and the wallet stayed outside then too. I would have spent money in both places if that credit card had been with me.
Limit your social media during that month. We all follow our favorite boutiques and stores on Instagram and Facebook and they are constantly bombarding us with reasons why we NEED that shirt or earrings right now. If you can’t handle the ads, just stay away from social media during your “no spend” month. It’s honestly a very healthy idea to stay away from social media in general but during a time when you are trying to save money, it’s especially important. You can also hide someone’s posts on social media for a few weeks. I know which Instagram fashion bloggers tempt me to buy clothes and I can hide their posts just for one month and the temptation to dress just like them goes away.
Shop your house. I “needed” lots of things during the “no spend” month and I got creative and used what I already had to make it work. I moved different furniture around during that month, used some baskets to organize my daughter’s drawers, and made a homework station for my son with some little jars I already had in my craft closet. Always think of ways to use what you already have first to solve a problem.
Focus on what you are saving for during that month. We wanted money for me to get a new computer and so all month I researched classes on graphic design, Illustrator, and the other programs I want to learn. I got really excited about what I was saving for and that helped me stick to my goal. If you are a visual person, print out a picture of your goal. It could be a picture of a resort in Puerto Rico, a picture of the car you want, or a picture of Disneyland. Seeing that picture will you remind you that skipping all the little purchases can add up to something really big.
Use your “eating out” time to make it special. We were CONSTANTLY grabbing Chick-fil-a or Whataburger on the way home and never really enjoyed it but hundreds of dollars were going out the window every month eating fast food. During March, we were much more thoughtful about where we were going to eat out and it was WAY more fun than getting drive-thru food. We actually ate at nicer restaurants, got dessert, and it was a really nice family time for us.
Use this month to observe how your mind thinks about “needs” vs. “wants.” Usually, I would think of something I “needed” and instantly order it on Amazon Prime or run to Target to get it. During this month, many “needs” came into my thoughts and then were gone five minutes later. I thought about lots of items during the month of March and now the only thing I can think of that I actually want for my house is a lamp for my living room because it’s pretty dark in there. That’s it…one thing. I probably would have spent over $400 on other things I “need” if I hadn’t given myself time to think before buying.
Do not make a list of things you wanted during your “no spend” month, or you will spend all of your saved money the following month plus more catching up. I noticed during March that my daughter needed some sandals to wear to church and so I went and bought them at the end of the month. I probably had thought of 50 other things I wanted during the “no spend” month, but I forgot about them. At the end of our “no spend” month, I would have rather had the money I saved instead of all the dumb stuff I would have bought instead.
Bonus Tip: DO NOT do two “no spend” months back to back. It will make you crazy. 🙂 When choosing a time to try no spending for a month, choose a month that isn’t filled with birthdays, holidays, or trips. March was a good month for us but September might be a good month for you.
I had so many good “take-aways” from my “no spend” month but the main take away was to purchase with thought. I honestly felt so strange not checking my front door every single day for Amazon packages last month but I realized how mindlessly I was buying. Being a little more thoughtful can save you a TON!
I know you’re wondering so I’ll tell ya! We saved about 1,500 during our “no spend” month which was really amazing for us because it was the last of the money I needed for my computer. Maybe you just want to save $400 or even $100 but I encourage you to try it and comment below with your experiences. Would you try a “no spend” month?