Years back we used to do this very smart thing and like many smart ideas if you don’t keep it up it eventually falls by the wayside. I’m ready to bring back the no-spend month. The spending freeze. It goes something like this:
For a month you don’t spent no money.
Yes, I know that’s a double negative. It’s also an over-simplification. Most of us can’t not spend any money. (See that’s a double negative with the intended meaning.) But after bills and food and gas, can you go a whole month without spending any extra money? Can you freeze your spending for a month? We did a couple of months a year for about three years in a row. Then life happened and it fizzled out. Then I saw something the other day about not spending money and it triggered my memory and the rush of NOT spending money.
Not spending money is a rush.
No, it really is, hear me out. Imagine running out of toothpaste and not going to the store to get more toothpaste but instead you check in the back of your cabinet or the guest bath or underneath a pile of hair gel and brushes and you find toothpaste. You use said toothpaste. You save the time of a trip to the store, the gas money it takes to get there, and the $102.93 you would have spent for eyeshadow, Axe shower gel, a large bottle of Advil, children’s chewable vitamins, adult chewable fiber, 3 dark chocolate bars, a pair of panyhose, and the netty pot you bought while buying toothpaste.
I am in no way suggesting that you skip brushing your teeth if you didn’t find extra tooth paste. By all means get toothpaste when you buy the necessary food just make sure you make sure you are really out. Do you have unused bar soap in a basket under the sink? Use it instead of buying gel soap. Do you have 7 partial bags of rice? Don’t buy more because none of your bags has enough to serve with the gumbo you are making from leftover chicken. Consolidate your rice you probable have enough for more than one meal. Don’t buy more pork chops because you are too lazy to defrost the ones in your freezer. By the time you drive to the store and back those little choppies could be half way unfrozen.
The rush comes from solving a problem, making a meal, having your needs met without resorting to going to the store.
I think the older folks called it ‘making do.’
A no spend month frees up time spent web shopping. There’s really no point in ‘shopping’ online when you aren’t going to spend any money. Spend the time broadening your knowledge by looking up barometric pressure, the snowflake scientist, Euclidian geometry, or obscure punctuation. Or find some new entertaining but informative Youtube channels like Dr. Sandra Lee, Seonkyoung Longest, or the ever popular Ask a Mortician. Read a book or heck, spend time with the other people in the house who are also not spending money.
A spending freeze helps you catch a breath from the the ever growing list of items we think we need. Maybe my bff got a new hybrid car. She is saving so much money on gas that she is practically driving around for free. It makes filling up that paid for mini van sitting in my driveway less appealing. After I research hybrid cars, find a sensibly priced used one on Carfax, and look up insurance and payment info I of course realize that good gas milage does not make up the difference of no payment vs payment and higher insurance. That doesn’t mean I will never get a newer vehicle but it does mean I can spend a whole month free from worrying about it.
Going a month without buying anything except food and gas and minor necessities gives you a chance to identify where your money goes. What didn’t you buy? Why didn’t you buy it? Was it because you didn’t need it? How many things did you think you wanted but decided it wasn’t food, gas, or a minor necessity? You could write down the cost of things you would’ve bought. We don’t but if you did you would have a concrete number to look at. By the end of the month that number might be larger than you expected.
And it forces you to use what you have. You can learn to make do. Find things hiding in your house you didn’t know you had. You can be more imaginative, solve problems without buying the solution. It’s quite a rush.
A few guidelines:
Pay your bills.
Buys the gas you need.
Skip eating out , impulse buying, buying personal items, stocking up, skip the movies or other entertainment that cost extra.
Be inventive and have fun!
- February is a good month, it’s short, it’s cold (good for staying in), and did I mention it’s short?
- Short notice? I have a theory that short notice is better. This way you can’t stock up on all the things you think you’ll need while not spending money on things you think you need.
- Google ‘no spending month’. There are many good and funny personal experiences out there.
- Socialization, Forced Association, and Age Segregation
- Old Friends, Boring Textbooks, and Recent History