If you need to quickly save some money (or just need to cut back on your spending for a month), one idea is to do a No-Spend month (aka spending freeze).
What is a No-Spend Month?
It's a period of time where you avoid spending money on anything besides the essentials. Essentials include bills such as your mortgage, gasoline, and essential groceries (like produce, bread, milk). Typically, you would avoid eating out, buying clothes, etc.
Set up the No-Spend Ground Rules
Each family probably has different ideas about what constitutes essentials.
Will you have a pantry and freezer challenge at the same time so you avoid even spending money at the grocery store (except on produce and milk)? It's a great way to clear out the pantry and freezer at the same time as lowering your spending. Or will you still shop at the grocery store for essentials if you don't have a stockpile?
The only rules to the No-Spend Challenge are the ones that you agree on and work for your family.
What are you Saving for?
If you have a concrete reason for the no-spend month, it's going to be a lot easier to deprive yourself for a month. Are you saving for a vacation? Are you going to use the money to pay off debt more quickly?
Be sure everyone involved knows the reason for the no-spend month, and you might be more successful if you make a sign for motivation so you can remember. Challenge yourself to save a certain amount.
Have a Plan
Know what your largest spending temptation will be during the month and prepare ahead for it. For example, if you like to stop and pick up coffee from a shop each morning, set up a station at home to make your own coffee.
If your rules include no eating out for a month, you need to have a meal plan in place so you know exactly what you're eating to avoid the temptation to run through the drive through when it's late and there's no dinner plan. You'll probably want to also organize your pantry and freezer so you know what's available.
One obvious idea is to stay out of the stores. It's a lot easier to not spend money when you're not even in a place to buy anything! If you need to go to the grocery store, be sure to have a list (and stick to it).
Don't Spend Excessively when the Month is Done
Now that you've gone a month without spending money, hopefully you've changed your mindset about spending. You don't want to go crazy with the spending now or you'll erase all your savings. Decide what you need to buy when you're done with the month and stick to the plan.
We did a no-spend month as a family recently, and you can find out what I learned from our no-spend month. Have you done one before? What have you learned?
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