Every once in a while when I feel like our spending is starting to go haywire, or we have too many odds and ends building up in the freezer and pantry, I like to institute a no-spend week.
No, I promise it’s not because I like self-torture. It’s really not hard after you get the hang of it.
The first time you do it will be weird, because shopping is such a habit – one we often don’t realize we have.
In fact, I didn’t realize how dependent I had become on quick trips the local grocery store after we moved to town – the first place we’ve lived where quick trips were even possible.
Forgot to cook beans? Go down and grab a can!
Don’t feel like making my own tortillas? Go get a pack! (I mean really, tortillas are cheap anyway!)
But all those little things added back up, and every once in a while, it’s good to crack the whip, and get ourselves back into good habits – like remembering to cook those beans for taco night, when refried beans are just non-negotiable.
Related: If you’re interested to know some of our no-spend menu planning, click What We Ate During No-Spend Week.
So how do you institute a successful no-spend week?
Here are my four favorite tips for to make a spending freeze easier:
- Take inventory of your freezer and pantry. First, you have to know if you even have what you need to make it through your spending freeze!
- Make a good meal plan from your inventory. Knowing what you’re going to make is crucial to avoiding impulse trips to the grocery store!
- Make a plan to avoid the store. I know it seems obvious: you won’t be going shopping during a spending freeze. But if you’’ll be going out for other reasons, make sure you make a plan to avoid shopping habits – different routes, etc.
- Make sure our spouse is in on it. Every time we fail a no-spend week, it’s because my husband and I aren’t on the same page. 😛
Whatever you do, DON’T take a preparatory shopping trip – that defeats the whole purpose!
But with that said, I think it’s only reasonable to break your spending freeze to buy toilet paper or another necessity if you run out (unless you’re a fan of the family cloth… but let’s not go there).
While we have personally never felt the need to do an entire no-spend month, a lot of people have used a 30 day no-spend challenge to jump-start their savings account or pay off a debt, and I think that’s a great idea!
These same rules that I listed above apply even more so to a month long spending freeze because, like with anything else, going in prepared makes your goal 100% more attainable.
So if you’re ready for a serious spending freeze challenge, I recommend my friend Ruth’s ebook, 31 Days of Living Well and Spending Zero. It’s filled to the brim with knowledge and tips from someone who’s been there, and done it successfully. It’s a small investment for a lot of potential savings!
Last of all, don’t look at a no-spend challenge as a burden you have to bear, but something temporary that you get to do, to improve yourself as a human, and so you end up with extra money to spend on something else.
Your attitude makes all the difference!
Happy No-Spend Week!