March 10, 2021

Let’s Have A No Spend Month! (Sorry Jess.)

Why A No Spend Month?

We can all benefit from the reset that a no-spend month provides. As good as we think we are with money, we all let lifestyle inflation sneak in now and again. Some old habits that we thought we got rid of start to show up again, and money is leaving our accounts at a faster rate than before.

For me, this happens right after the holidays. My wife and I like to be generous to our boys during the holidays. We do not excessively spend on things the rest of the year, so this is our chance to spoil them a bit. The problem lies after the holidays. The month or two of easing off our savings gas pedal takes its toll on our discipline. Suddenly, the Amazon packages are coming more consistently, and stuff starts to accumulate in the house. We haven’t made any changes to our savings, so even though we are on track with that, I am acutely aware that this level of spending is not sustainable. Hence the “no spend” month.

Criteria For A No Spend Month

In The Year of Less, Cait Flanders does a great job outlining a plan for this type of month. In her case, she does it for a year and is way more strict with herself for reasons she outlines in the book. But in our case, we have some simple guidelines:

We Can Spend On These Items:
  • Housing (All of the bills we have to pay and any repairs we HAVE to make)
  • Transportation (Gas and necessary repairs only)
  • Groceries (Keep it to $800-$1000)
  • Our normal entertainment bills (TV, phone, etc…)
  • Kids (Anything that we have to pay due to commitments for school, sports, etc…; Nothing additional)
We Cannot Spend On These Items:
  • Take Out
  • Eating Out
  • DIY
  • Gadgets
  • Recreation
  • New Subscriptions
  • Amazon (unless necessary supplies)
  • Stuff that isn’t absolutely necessary to live (LOL)

Tricks We Will Use To Limit Spending

Not spending any money is easier said than done. Every day, many smart people figure out how to get us to click and spend without even thinking about it. To beat them at their own game, you have to create some barriers to spending. Here are some ways we plan to create barriers to spending:

  • Remove all shopping Apps from my phone: If I have to open my computer, it forces me to pause and think about the item I plan to buy.
  • Delay any purchase over $25 by one day: Allowing the dopamine to melt away is usually enough to realize you don’t need it.
  • Any purchase over $50 requires a discussion with my wife: Accountability is usually enough to say, “I don’t really need that.”
  • Think about every purchase in terms of time: Before buying something, think about how many hours I will have to work to pay for it. Is that “thing” really worth 10 hours of my life, etc…
  • Celebrate the wins: At the end of each successful no spend day, celebrate our success with something we like. At the end of the month, if we reach our goals, celebrate in style!
  • Be kind to ourselves and each other: This one is harder than it should be. We are going to slip up from time to time. When we do, we need to remind ourselves that it is OK. The goal is to be more intentional, not perfect.

Challenge Yourself To A No Spend Month

Can you do it? It is a lot harder than it seems. We have done this before, and if nothing else, it is eye-opening to see how much money we spend on stuff that brings us no joy or fulfillment. It was when we failed that we learned the most about why and when we spend. Experiments like this have allowed us to really see what we value and create intentionality around spending and other life decisions.

I will post some updates here and in another blog post to let you know how we did. Sneak peek…we are 7 days in at the time of writing this post, and we already have some failures!

Give it a try, and let us know how you do by using the comments section below. We would love to hear about your success and failure so we can all learn.

The post Let’s Have A No Spend Month! (Sorry Jess.) appeared first on The Fat & Broke Podcast.