What is a "No Spend Month" and Can You do it?
Have you ever heard of a "No Spend Month"? It is becoming increasingly popular among bloggers all over the world. I have done it twice now and it is such a refreshing change, that I am planning on doing it again in September. I have no idea who originally thought up the concept and the first time I did it, it was not a planned idea that I had heard somewhere and prepared for. It was out of necessity to pay a $1200 dental bill. In order to cover the bill, for five weeks I allowed myself $25 each week for food and other than basic bills we saved all our money for the dental bill.
The next year when I noticed some of our savings areas were pretty low, I decided to declare a no spend month and stash all extra money into savings. It worked very well! This year I am declaring a no spend month for two reasons. The first is because I want to save money. The second is because I am sick and tired of spending money. I finally have all the kids off to school, but the few weeks prior to school starting I did nothing but run around and spend money on lots of random little things they needed. I don't like this habit and I am tired of going to the store, so as of September 1st, I won't be going.
There are some general guidelines to having a no spend month. First, no stockpiling like crazy on August 31st. That would defeat the purpose right? A goal of mine is to reduce some of my stockpile. Having found a few too many great deals lately, I can barely fit anything into my freezer. It is time to dig to the bottom and use up the old stuff.
Secondly, figure out what you can spend money on. In a month's time you know you will have bills to pay. Chances are pretty good that you will have to put gas in your car. For us, those are non-negotiable. I do allow myself a small amount of money for the month to get any must have's and to purchase milk, eggs, and fresh fruit and veggies. We do try to use up what we have, but realistically we aren't able to go a month without fresh stuff and milk. The first time I did this I gave myself $25 a week. The next time I did this I gave myself $200 for the entire month to cover anything at all that might come up. This is what I am doing this time too. If we need stamps it will come from this amount. It a child wants to go to a football game they can pay their own way or it will come from this $200. All food items will be bought with this $200. Your amount might be different and that is fine. But make it a challenge or it won't work for you.
Third, have a plan. If you are like some people I know that keep very little food in their house, then not spending money on food for a month won't work. We can't have people going hungry. Maybe you want to have food be off limits for this challenge. That is fine. Declare a no spend month on clothing, eating out, toiletries, etc. You will still save money. But you need to realistically have a plan in place for how the month will work. Figure out how you will handle specific situations ahead of time, like a child's birthday party, and then stick with it.
Fourth, pick a month that will work for you. If you garden it might be wise to pick a month when the garden is still producing. In the past I have done November and October. This year I am doing September, because I know we will get lots of fresh veggies from my garden for free. If you have some large expenses coming up, you probably don't want to declare a no spend month for that month.
Fifth, no spending on anything frivilous. Yes I am giving myself $200 for the month of September, but that doesn't mean I have to spend all of it. I will spend the bare minimum to get us through the month.
Sixth, don't beat yourself up if the month doesn't go perfectly. Things happen, but do the best you can. Last year, on November 1st we went shoe shopping. You guessed it; the kids all needed new shoes by the end of October. I had not planned on dropping over $100 on shoes on November 1st, but life happened. Just do the best you can and I am sure something good will come of it. Not spending money certainly never hurt anybody. Good luck!