Try a No Spend Month to Build Up Your Emergency Fund: Here’s How
February, 2, 2021 | Louis Tully
If you’re looking for ways to save money in the wake of the past holiday season, it may sound like overkill, but a “no spend month” usually means putting a hard freeze on any unnecessary spending. It’s time to get frugal, it’s time to stretch that dollar till it almost tears in two.
Think about it, these days we’re all a little caught up in the act of spending. With smartphones, computer screens, and television occupying so much of our attention, we are bombarded with new opportunities to spend more and more money.
Pulling back from unnecessary spending for a bit can really shed some light on poor spending habits and behaviors. I like to start things off with a simple question:
What Do You Really Need to Get by?
Every person on the planet has unavoidable recurring expenses, stuff like rent, food, gas, insurance, etc. Most of these expenses stay pretty much the same month to month, but let’s take a deeper dive. Let’s see how we can tweak those expenses to find out what you really need.
Most of what we spend our hard-earned greenbacks on is what we call a consumable or something we use up like food, toilet paper, and other everyday items. By simply taking a second look at what we consume we start to see what’s really necessary.
No Month Spend Activity Challenge
When preparing for your no spend month, grab a notebook and pencil. Be specific with this notebook, make it a small one, something that can fit in your pocket comfortably. Don’t use the notebook for anything except tracking finances.
Now try this quick 3-day exercise to get you tuned up for your no-spend month challenge.
For the next three days, don’t change your purchase behaviors at all, simply write them down. Every time you spend money over those three days, write it down and keep it with you. At the end of each day, review the list and total the money you spent.
When the three days are up, go ahead and review that list. How many times did you spend money on something that was unnecessary? I remember the first time I tried this. I was shocked by how many times I went to a convenience store which brings us back to the topic at hand. That’s exactly why no spend month practice is so effective!
Cut Out the Booze!
The first thing that comes to mind when we think of cutting expenses is the fun stuff like booze, or nights out to a bar, ice cream, and movies. I don’t know about you, but just thinking about giving up on some of those items makes me cringe.
It’s ok, the great thing about a no spend month is that it’s not forever, you can go back to booze and bubblegum in 30 days if you want. Remind yourself, ‘i can do this, it’s only a few days” and then set a reward for the successful completion of your no-spend goal.
Putting a hold on alcohol and treats for 30 days has obvious additional benefits that go beyond financial savings. You’re giving yourself a total health boost. Think of your no spend month as a thirty-day financial cleanse.
Recognize Your Progress and Reward Yourself
At the end of your no spend month make sure to recognize your hard work and reward yourself. Make it a good reward, something you can sink your teeth into.
I have never come away from a spending freeze without having gained some key piece of insight about my personal consumption and spending.
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For this writer, times are always tight, so I find myself in a spending freeze more often in order to afford my chosen lifestyle, and I’m not alone. These days financial stressors caused by pandemics and unforeseen emergencies can take a toll on each one of us.
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