Saving challenge: Plan a no-spend month
Maybe you’re saving up for an epic vacation or perhaps you just need to rebuild a reserve in your savings account. A “no-spend” month is the equivalent to a boot camp for your budget.
First, what it is: Committing yourself, for 30 whole days, to spend money on only your necessities, like your rent or mortgage, groceries, utilities, gasoline, and other must-pay bills. We’re talking full-on commitment to the savings cause — so no shopping for clothes, no dining out (even if you’re just going to Happy Hour for half-priced appetizers), no trips to concert halls or movie theaters.
Here are 7 ways to not just survive, but actually enjoy, your no-spend month:
1. Maximize savings on your essentials:
Save on the items that you need to shop for. If you haven’t done so already, sign up to be a member of ShopAtHome.com so you can start getting Cash Back on your everyday purchases. Bonus: When you sign up you’ll get $10 Cash Back right away. Access free grocery coupons for your trips to the store. (You can browse and print for free). You’ll also find deals and get Cash Back on your essential buys, whether that’s diapers you purchase from Walmart or the paper goods or toiletries you need from Walgreens.
2. Try your no-spend month in the summer:
Warm weather months are the best time to put your budget on an extreme diet because of all of the outdoors activities that can keep us entertained — whether it’s lazing on a lounge chair and reading at the neighborhood pool or going for a bike ride on a nearby trail.
3. Freeze your gym membership:
Ditch the creaky treadmills and indoor swim lanes and get a good workout in the outdoor playground. Actually, try this for the whole summer and you could save up to $200. Go for a run on a nearby track or trail, swim laps at your local pool, or give Daily Burn a free trial and do at-home workouts in your living room.
4. Avoid the brunch trap:
As soon as you commit to doing a no-spend month, we’re guessing a friend will call you up and ask you to go out to brunch or meet up for lunch. Go ahead, tell them about your no-spend month and ask if they’d like to spend some quality time at the local farmer’s market or to catch up over a walk or hike instead. Your no-spend month doesn’t have to put a damper on your social life. Heck, you might even start some new rituals with your friends that don’t center around meals.
5. Check out free events:
Museums and other cultural attractions have “free days” throughout the year if you’re looking for a no-cost way to entertain your family. Also popular and often free in the summer? Outdoor movies in the park. Avoid the temptation to stop by the snack booth and pop your own popcorn at home.
6. Entertain yourself:
OK, so you’re accustomed to swinging by Redbox to pick up a DVD or you want to buy up summer’s must reads. We empathize. Instead, though, head to your local library and check out a book, instead. Most libraries are also well-stocked with DVD options, too. Another idea? Try a free podcast! There’s plenty out there in all different niches, from humorous to true crime dramas.
7. Try a no-spend week:
Just like you can’t run a marathon without having first done a 5K, committing yourself to an entire no-spend month can be a daunting task. So, here’s a trick: Commit to a no-spend week once a month. By fall, you’ll have completed a no-spend month.