When we had our first no-spend month last year, my brother asked me “Wouldn’t a no-spend month just cause you to spend more money next month because you’ve exhausted all your resources?”
With some self-control, a decent food storage, and a regular habit of stocking up on essentials, a no-spend month really will save you money. Let me show you how!
Here are several ways a no-spend month really saves money:
In my experience, there always seem to be those items that jump into your cart even though they’re not on your list and you weren’t looking for them. They could be things on sale, a snack you’re hungry for, or a random thing that you decide you need. With a no-spend month, you don’t go into the store, so you aren’t tempted to buy anything.
As far as online shopping goes, I avoid doing any browsing during a no-spend month. I don’t open any promotional emails I get during the month either. For me, this is the online equivalent of staying out of the store.
Food on the Run
If you are in the habit of grabbing a soda at the gas station, going out for lunch, or regularly ordering take-out, a no-spend month has potential to save you lots of money. If you spend just $10 per day going out to lunch each workday, that adds up to $200 a month. Instead of spending money on food while you’re out, think ahead and bring food from home or just practice patience until you get home.
We are already in the habit of bringing our own food and rarely eating out, so this one is pretty easy for us. For some, eating out is a pretty strong habit. Going “cold turkey” in breaking an eat-out habit might be hard. Make sure to set yourself up for success (while still posing a challenge) when setting your no-spend rules.
Fresh Fruits and Veggies
One of the biggest concerns with a no-spend month is fresh fruits and vegetables. Sure, we like fresh better, but the alternatives pull us through for a month. There are lots of ways to get fruits and veggies besides fresh. Staying out of the store is one of the keys to a successful no-spend month, so we get by with other fruits and veggies until we get back in the store the next month.
We have applesauce, pear sauce, and plum sauce that I canned. We also have pear and peach halves bottled. In our freezer we have frozen strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, nectarines, lemons, bananas, pumpkin, zucchini, and lots of veggies from our garden. We have dehydrated apples and pears, as well as raisins and craisins. Plus, if you buy in bulk and store them in the fridge, lots of fresh fruits will last a month or longer.
Not spending money forces you to be creative with what you’ve got. Whether it’s using your pantry staples for a new recipe, mending clothes, making thoughtful gifts, or using alternatives to disposables, a no-spend month can foster creativity. Your new-found creative skills will continue to payoff long after your no-spend month. Lowering your expenses is part of the formula for financial freedom.
Resume your Regular Budget
One of our “rules” is that we have to stay on budget the month before and after our no-spend month. For us, that means a grocery budget of $300 per month and $40 on household items (like toilet paper, toothpaste and dish soap). All of our stocking up has to be within our normal budget. If you have a good food storage, then even after a no-spend month your cupboards won’t be bare. There will be staples, especially perishables, on your shopping list, but you shouldn’t be starting from square one.
Having a month’s worth of food is a good idea for everyone. You may not store a month’s worth of your favorite perishables, but you should store enough food at your house to sustain your family for at least a month (though I would recommend three months or longer). I’m talking about staples like rice, beans, powdered milk, oats, flour, sugar, canned fruits and veggies, etc.
Sleep on it x 30
You’ve probably heard (or practice) the principle of “sleeping on it” when it comes to purchases. A no-spend is an expansion of the “sleep on it” principle. Instead of taking a night to decide if a major purchase is a good one, you have a month to decide if you really need whatever it is that you’re eyeing. It helps to keep a list of things you want to buy. After your no-spend month you can evaluate the list.
You can do this!
Anyone can have a no-spend month that works for them. The rules are flexible and personal. If a whole month sounds overwhelming, start with a week or two. It’s a good way to differentiate between wants and needs. You will learn to make sacrifices and make-do with what you have.
- What have you learned from having a no-spend month?
- How has a no-spend month saved you money?
Other Articles in the No-Spend Month Series
- Planning a No-Spend Month
- No-Spend Month Update
- No-Spend Month Menu
- No-Spend Month Update- Easter Edition