When it comes to short-term strategies to help achieve a financial goal, a no spend month could be an effective solution. Whether it’s to make a downpayment on a vehicle or pay off a credit card account, the money saved during a no spend month can be useful in many ways.
Not to worry - it’s not exactly how it sounds. You’ll still need to pay your bills and buy everyday essentials such as food and gas for your vehicle. What a no spend month does call for is halting all frivolous spending. No dining out. No trips to the mall. Basic necessities only1.
Here are some tips on how to accomplish a no spend month:
Know your goal
You’re most likely pursuing a no spend month for a reason. Whatever your objective may be, make sure you’re clear on the goal you’re striving to achieve.
It’s also important to set realistic expectations. Being too aggressive on what you plan to accomplish through a no spend month could lead to imperfect or unsatisfactory results. Once you've set a distinct goal, focus on the payoff to motivate you along the way.
Pick a proper month
Choosing the right month for you is the first step. For example, trying to accomplish a no spend month during the holidays or wedding season may not be the best approach. It might be worthwhile to review your calendar to identify months to avoid.
Here’s a list of things to look out for when narrowing down your options:
Track your spending
Keep a spreadsheet or other list of all expenses. By recording each purchase, you can hold yourself accountable for every dollar you spend. It may also be useful to set a weekly cap for different spending categories such as groceries and transportation.
One simple method to track your spending is with a pen and paper. If you’re more of a digital tasker, here are some free apps to help track your spending.
Everyone has different triggers that can lead to careless spending. If you know what makes you weak, do your best to keep yourself away from these scenarios. For example, if you buy a morning coffee every day, start brewing coffee at home to take on your commute. This one action could save you over $40/month if you by a cup of coffee five days a week2.
You may also be susceptible to triggers you’re not totally unaware of. Here are some circumstances that could also lead to unnecessary spending:
- Finding a deal
- Being bored
- Being in a bad mood
Since you’re on a tighter budget than usual, you may need to get creative with your time and resources. One example could be in the kitchen. If you’re trying to cut down on food costs, learn to cook some new recipes. Aim for 2-3 meals a week and have a plan to use the leftovers for future meals.
As for your time, try picking up a new hobby. There are a variety of economical activities to pass the time and you may even find your new favorite pastime. If you need a little inspiration, check out these 50 low cost hobbies.
When it comes to accomplishing a no spend month, only you have the power to control your spending and make positive changes to your personal finances. If you follow the advice listed here, you may have a great shot at achieving the goal you aimed for. Best of luck!