Are you up for a challenge? How about a challenge that will change the way you view spending for the rest of your life! Then join me…
For the past couple of Septembers I have challenged myself to a No Spend September. Also known as a Frugal Fast or a Spending Freeze. Why September? No Clue. I actually learned about the concept years ago. I don’t entirely remember what the source was, but No Spend September has a nice ring to it.
Now realistically no one can in actuality adhere to a complete spending freeze. That is why it is so important to outline your month with a set of exceptions in place. For example in my personal set of expectations I remove all of my Fixed Cost Expenses from the No Spend Rule. Fixed Costs Expenses are expenses that do not change month to month such as your mortgage/rent, utilities, bills, child care etc. I also add two Variable Cost Expenses to my list of what I am still allowed to spend on. Those items include Groceries and Gas. Variable Cost Expenses are those that change month to month. My grocery bill although is roughly the same, does fluctuate depending on sale items or meal plans.
Once you establish your rules on what you can continue to spend on, it’s also fun to outline what you want to cut back on. For example I have a very bad Starbucks habit. I will easily drop $5 at Starbucks daily and think nothing of it. If I were to average just 3 trips a week that adds up to $60 by the end of the month. Same goes for going out to lunch at work. On average I spend $10 during lunch at work, lets say I do that 3 times a week, that adds up to $120 a month.
Now lets talk about impulse buys. Those Mini Melissa shoes for my daughter, who already has more shoes at 2 then I did my entire childhood. Or the take out orders that my husband and I tend to splurge on when we just don’t feel like cooking or cleaning. Those take out orders sometimes add up to $300 a month. Not to mention I end up tossing food we didn’t eat from my grocery trips that have now spoiled.
What is comes down to is that no matter how frugal you think you may be, there are expenses in your life that you can cut out. In fact a lot of them you can cut out quite easily. For instance this month I tried really hard to start bringing my lunch to work in preparation for my No Spend September. I realized that by doing that I was not only saving money, but I was also saving my time from having to go get something at work. Not to mention saving calories, because inevitably I would get something much unhealthier than I had intended to eat.
The biggest reason that I am such a proponent of a No Spend Month is that you learn a lot about yourself. You learn about self control. You learn just how resourceful you can be, and most importantly you learn that it is okay not to spend every dollar in your bank account. For a long time I had a strange relationship with money. When I earned it I also truly believed that I must spend it. So I created bad habits. I would get treats such as coffee or I would go on shopping trips for items I didn’t need. Once I really began examining why I was spending and challenging myself not to spend, it is then that I realized that saving was actually a much more rewarding experience. Spending or wasting money didn’t bring me joy whatsoever even though I had really thought that it had.
I truly believe that the consumer and capitalistic nature of the United States really drives people to spend more than they intend to. I don’t mean to sound political or even philosophical, but it is quite telling of the culture we live in that 90% of TV commercials are trying to sell you something you do not need. Do an experiment. Watch an hour of TV without skipping the commercials. In that hour write down everything they are trying to sell you. Include anything in the show that is clear product placement. I did this experiment a while ago. I was astonished by what they were trying to sell me. Unhealthy items mostly. And by how many items they crammed into that hour.
Consumerism aside. If this post resonates with you, and you feel as though you can benefit from a No Spend Month; join me on this journey. I created a Facebook Group where we can support, encourage and inspire each other with our new spending outlooks.
Join the No Spend Community