Summer is supposed to be a time to relax and unwind, but if your family is like mine, summer was busy, busy, busy. And with that extra activity usually comes extra spending. You take the kids to the amusement park for a fun day, you get take out after a long day at the pool, or you take a few trips for fun or to visit relatives.
If you overspent during the summer (and it is easy to do!), one way to help repair your finances is to have a low or no spend month.
How It Works
Calculate how much you usually spend in a month on things like gas, entertainment, food, eating out, basically any category except fixed expenses. Then, decide on a lower amount to spend during a certain month. If you normally spend $1,000 on the month’s variable expenses, determine a lower amount to spend. If you really want to make an impact, cut your spending by 75%. A more tolerable level might be 50%. (When we have low spend months, we typically try not to spend more than $500 for the month, which can be challenging for our family of 5.)
To have a successful no or low spend month, you will need to get your significant other on board and be willing to make sacrifices such as not going out to eat and finding free entertainment such as watching DVDs from the library. You will need to eat up any food in the cupboard that you bought but didn’t use. This is a great way to clear the pantry, too.
Another important step is to record every expense so you don’t spend more money than you are allotted. Our family has a no spend month at least once a year, and trust me, you want to spend less at the beginning of the month than you do at the end. It is easy to scrimp in the beginning knowing you can be a bit more free with the money at the end of the month than vice versa.
Other Variations of the No Spend Month
Some people are overwhelmed by an entire month of low spending.
If that sounds too difficult, what about a no spend week? Most people can sacrifice for a week and still see significant savings. Have one no spend week for the last four months of the year, and you have essentially had a no spend month, just not all at once.
Another alternative is to pick a certain number of days during the month to not spend anything all day (except fixed expenses). A good number is 10 out of 30 days in the month, but you can decide what works best for you.
If your budget is a bit off, a no or low spend day, week or month can be a great way to get your finances back on track. In addition, you will use up things you already have in your home and appreciate the money you do spend more.
Have you had a no spend month before? Was it successful?