There has never been a more important time to get on top of your finances, clear debt and start an emergency fund. Many people are finding themselves spending more than they earn, drowning in debt and living paycheck to paycheck. The most common forms of debt are:
- Student loans
- Credit card debt
- Store cards
- Personal finance
- Hire purchase
- Buy now pay later
- Payday loans
- Overdraft charges
How many of these do you have?
Ask yourself this: If your washing machine broke down today, how would you fix it, would you be able to pay for a new machine or repairs out right? Would you have to borrow money from a friend or relative? Would you buy it on a credit card or by hire purchase?
Many people today are living paycheck to paycheck trying to make ends meet with nothing put by for emergencies.
In this post, we discuss ways to start a no spend month and save money to start an emergency fund to help you through the hard times. are you ready to take a no spend challenge?
What is a no spend month?
A no spend month or a no spend challenge is where you don’t spend any money at all in certain categories. So, for instance, you’ll still be paying your bills, utilities and fuel but you might choose not to spend money on eating meals out or takeaway food and all other luxuries and unnecessary items. you will leave any extra money, credit cards and bank cards at home and will only take an envelope with the money you need for essential items such as travel and food.
No spend challenge categories
- Takeaway food
- Eating out
- Coffee to sit in or to go
- Nic Nacs
- Beauty products
- Holidays/trips away
- Nights out
- Cinema trips
- Cleaning products
- Organising products
- Pound store/target purchases
How to get ready for a no spend month challenge
Start a budget. This is the only way you will be able to successfully stop spending money and start saving money. Write down all your monthly income, then in another column write down all your monthly outgoings be ruthless, make sure you include all the minor things you buy which add up such as:
- Kids activities
These are small purchases which you don’t even notice that you are buying but they all mount up and need to be recorded. only when you know how much you spend can you start to save! For Martin Lewis’ free budget tool to get you started click here
Plan ahead make sure you plan ahead for any events such as weddings birthdays etc, order gifts for these occasions and plan outfits. make sure you’ve got everything you need so you’re not tempted to go shopping and pick up unnecessary items. Keep gift cards in the house for any emergency birthday gifts for birthdays you may have forgotten. Also, ask for gift cards for your birthday or Christmas so it’s easier to socialise during your no spend months.
Pick a month , No Spend November, Spending Freeze September, Frugal February decide on a month and plan your no spend month and begin not spending money!
Prepare snacks to avoid buying snacks for you and your kids when you are out. Prepare healthy snacks to stash in your bag for eating on the go or at your desk
Draft a grocery list write down all the things you need to make your meals for the month, snacks, drinks and groceries ready to take this with you when grocery shopping, stick to the list to reduce your grocery bill!
Keep a jar handy to put all the money in that you would have spent throughout the day, you’ll be surprised at how much you could have wasted on unnecessary items. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to stop spending money!
Plan what you want to cut back on, Tick all the items you regularly spend money on throughout the day from the list above, now decide which items you are not going to spend money on today. At the end of the day put the money you’ve saved on those items into your jar!
Plan your lunches Be prepared! Make sandwiches or pasta the night before work so you’re not grabbing something from the canteen.
Start a capsule wardrobe this will ensure that all the items in your wardrobe will match and go together, it will also change your shopping habits and the way you shop for clothes.
Start an envelope system, put money labelled envelopes for each day for essential purchases such as food, travel expenses and fuel. Stick to it! Don’t take bank cards credit cards or any extra money out with you other than what you need that day.
Let other people know that you’re on a no spend month, it’s a lot easier to succeed on your no spend month if other people know you are doing it. rather than going for lunch you could arrange to go for a healthy hike instead, or arrange to walk to work together, or skip the afternoon coffee and opt for a picnic in the park with the kids instead!
How much you can save on luxury food items during a no spend month challenge:
Coffee £2.75 per day = £55.00 per month
Lunch £3.99 per day = £79.80 per month
Takeaway food £13.87 per person per week = £55.48
Eating out = £60 per month
That is a staggering £250.28 per month or £3003.36 a year towards your emergency fund for a new washing machine! And that’s without really trying, imagine how much more you could save by cutting back on other impulse items from the list!
No spend month tips
Choose quality over quantity and choose items to last not to throw away after the season has ended.
You have your own style you don’t be tempted to waste money following the latest disposable fashion
Don’t fall for consumer advertising and propaganda read between the lines! The life-changing eyeshadow pallet is definitely not life-changing being debt free certainly is!
A lipstick will not make you beautiful, there is not one product could make anyone person beautiful. I agree with Audrey Hepburn who says that “the most beautiful thing anyone can put on their face is a smile”
Gratitude, kindness empathy and humility make a person beautiful, these are qualities which shine from within, these are the lessons we should be teaching our children.
Quit buying the luxuries, bear in mind we don’t need anything other than the basics to keep us alive!
Stop buying “stuff” which will end up in the charity shop in six months time. Don’t buy anything you don’t need or anything you already have!
Don’t spend money, save it instead
Start a small emergency fund to cover any emergency repairs or breakages.
Pay off your debts, use the money you’ve saved on your no spend months to put towards payments on your smallest debt, get that debt paid off then put the monthly payments and savings towards paying off your next smallest debt and carry on this way until you are debt free!
Start a budget know exactly where your money is going every month.
Try frugal living Use up beauty products and cleaning products, upcycle clothes and furniture rather than buying new. these categories can start to save you hundreds in impulse purchases!
Start a savings account for holidays, Christmas and other large purchases so you can use cash rather than credit cards and loans.
Never spend more than you earn. in simple terms, if you only earned £10 a day you wouldn’t spend £20 per day so don’t do that with your monthly wages either! you will never be rich unless you learn to spend less than you earn, just ask any millionaire!
Make it your aim to be debt free there is no bigger freedom than being debt free and not having most of your wages going towards paying credit card bills and personal loans. There is nothing more depressing than for paying off a holiday you had six months ago! imagine having all of your wages free to spend on bills and enjoying yourself as well as having some left to save up!
Get rid of the credit cards. in 2018 in the UK the average credit card debt was £2586 which would take 26years and 4 months to pay off if you only paid the minimum payment each month!
Take a bottle of water to work instead of buying that latte each day. I like to use a stainless steel water bottle as it keeps my water cold, especially with ice for hours and can be used to keep drinks hot for up to eight hours, it doesn’t leak in your bag either and saves the planet from plastic waste!
A penny saved is a penny earned. huge amounts of money are wasted on small impulse purchases which in turn eats into the pounds! look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves, watch the small daily purchases!
Why you need a no spend month
There are generally two ways stuff comes into our house, it is either given to us or we buy it. We are often given stuff we don’t need and we often buy stuff we don’t need. Resulting in bulging shelves, bursting cupboards, and overstuffed drawers.
- Take a good look at the stuff you throw away.
As you are simplifying, look at each bag of stuff you discard in monetary value, think of how many hours at work you to earn the equivalent amount of money, try not to cry!
- Take a look at the size of the stuff you throw away.
Take note of how much space those bin bags of unwanted items take up in your room before you take them out of the house, that space is the equivalent amount of space you’ve just created.
- See your new purchases as future junk.
If you’re going in for the kill on an impulse purchase the possibility that it will be donated within 6 months should be enough to stop the impulse and for you to walk away and pause for thought.
- Remember it is not a bargain.
It is only a bargain if you were going to buy it before it was reduced. If not, it is more than likely join to be another costly mistake.
- Think about what makes you happier.
What has more value to you, the item you’ve been craving, or the money in your pocket and the space in your house?
- Say no to other people’s unwanted junk.
Don’t let that bin bag of other people’s’ unwanted stuff over your beautifully de-cluttered doorstep!
How to have a no spend month with kids
You may prefer to decide to start your no spend month slowly by starting with a no spend day. take your kids out for the day and try to spend nothing except parking fees. Follow the tips below to see how to have a no spend day. If you do find you’ve spent money unnecessarily think about how it happened and see if you can implement ways to avoid that situation for the next day out! Here are some of the best ways not to spend money when you’re out with the kids.
Keep snacks and drinks in the car and your bag to avoid picking up a bag of crisps on the way home. Kids are always hungry the choice of snack to buy often be unhealthy and expensive. Keep a small Tupperware tub full of healthy snacks for the week if the hunger pangs start. Bottles of water or cartons of juice are also ideal to stash in the boot and slip into your bag for those hunger emergencies!
Take a picnic on days out. buying lunch for the family on a day out can be hugely expensive. Pack a fabulous picnic with everyone’s favourite food, drinks and snacks, make it a treat, my kids love a picnic it’s their favourite part of a family day out!
Keep ice cream at home next time you’re grocery shopping let your kids choose some icecreams to keep in the freezer for after a day out if you want to avoid spending money on icecreams when you’re out.
Keep distraction snacks at the ready if you’re trying to save money by not buying icecreams and treats outside, make your life easier with little ones by carrying a distraction snack to offer them instead!
Pack your own cinema food if you do go on a trip to the cinema, pack your own popcorn, sweets and drinks. this will literally save you a fortune!
Join the national trust, they have hundreds of amazing places to visit and always have amazing kids activities all throughout the holidays all year round. our national trust membership costs £7.00 per month for a family card which admits 2 adults and 3 children all for the price you would pay to park your car! We use our card most weekends and huge amounts over the school holidays as my kids love being outdoors and love learning about how other children lived years ago. This is our eighth year of being a national trust member.
Start a kids capsule wardrobe this helps you stop spending huge amounts of money on kids clothes and shoes, and ensures that all their clothes are practical and go together to make stylish outfits. No more miss matched outfits and impulse purchases! Read more on how to start a kids capsule wardrobe here
Try starting a toy rotation system to avoid spending more money on unnecessary unused kids toys. Your kids will play more with their toys and will find new joy in an old toy everytime you bring it out of storage. Read how to declutter toys and implement a toy rotation system here.
Once you have mastered having a no spend day, you can try extending it to a no spend week, then eventually a no spend month, you’ll be surprised exactly how different things can be by spending less. After a short time, you will have much more financial freedom to do the things you really love and to create memories.
Things to do on a no spend month
- Have a picnic, as long as there’s no rain a picnic is a great day out. whether it’s at the beach or in the park the kids love it!
- Join a sports club, running, football, rugby and netball all great ways to meet new people and get fit without spending any money!
- Take up running, it’s free, it keeps you fit and you can run with the kids and dog!
- Play board games, it may sound dreary to you , but smaller kids love to play board games, my kids would rather sit with me and play a board game together than watch tv or go on the iPad, this stage in their lives doesn’t last forever so make the most of it while you can!
- Do yoga at home, there are lots of apps or Youtube channels for beginners to learn how to stretch and do yoga at home, it’s a fabulous way to recharge your batteries and little kids can join in too!
- Take up a self-defence class, what better way for the family to bond and learn to stay safe on the streets, than over some self-defence classes.
- Start a cookery class at home, teach your kids to cook and run a cookery class from home, sit them around the table and teach them basic cookery skills. This is a great one for those rainy days and great for bonding.
- Go for a bike ride, it’s the perfect way to keep fit with the family, don’t forget to pack a picnic!
- Have a spa day, use up all those old beauty products you’ve got lying around and have a lovely pampering session at home, light a candle and chill out in your dressing gown, if you’ve got kids at home they’ll love joining in with the pampering!
- Learn to code, teach yourself and your kids to code, there are apps and books which can walk you and your kids through the basics of computer coding, don’t get left behind it the technology race!
- Learn how to meditate, meditation is a fabulous way to recharge your batteries, to learn how to meditate at home read this post
- Take your kids to the library, get them excited about books, there are often free story time sessions on at the library each week for your kids to enjoy.
- Start a blog, if you’ve always wanted to write there’s no better way to start than to write a blog, to learn how to start a blog without spending any money click here
- Go for a hike, my kids love getting out into the hills and hiking through the countryside, strap on your boots and get outside come rain or shine!
- Go to an art gallery, this is one of my favourite things to do on a rainy day, it’s a great place to go for some quiet contemplation.
- Join a park run, these are usually held once a month and are approximately 5k, they are family focused events for runners of all abilities.
- Do some sightseeing, how well do you know your area? If you were a tourist where would you visit? get out and about and visit the local sights!
- Go to the beach, sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy, the beach is always a great place for a bracing breath of fresh air!
- Ring your relatives or friends, stay in touch with people you’ve neglected, everyone likes to chat!
- Declutter, use your no spend month challenge to get your home ship-shape, start a huge decluttering session. To learn how to motivate yourself to declutter click here!
- Become a volunteer, give a bit back by giving up some of your time to help out a local charity.
- Borrow someone’s dog, ask a neighbour or a friend if you can borrow their dog to take on a long hike, keeping fit is always better with a furry friend to take along!
For more tips on having a no spend month and spending less, head over to The Minimalists
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