There has never been a more critical time to get on top of your finances, clear debt, and start an emergency fund. Many people find themselves spending more than they earn, drowning in debt, and living paycheck to paycheck. In this post, we will be sharing some clever tips and tricks to help you have a no-spend
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 appliance or repairs outright? Would you have to borrow money from a friend or relative? Would you buy it on a credit card or by hire purchase?
Today, many people live paycheck to paycheck, trying to make ends meet with nothing put by for emergencies.
This post discusses ways to start a no-spending month, budget, and save money to create 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-spending month or a no-spending challenge is where you don’t spend any money at all in specific categories for one month. So, for instance, you’ll still be paying your bills, car insurance, utilities, and fuel, but you might choose not to spend money on eating meals out, takeaway food, or all other luxuries and unnecessary items. You will leave any extra cash, credit cards, and bank cards at home, and only take with you an envelope containing the money you need for essential items such as travel and food.
Where your money goes
- 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
- Grocery store
How to get ready for no spending challenge
Start a budget. Budgeting is the only way you will successfully stop spending money and start saving money. in savings accounts 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
- Home improvements
You don’t even notice that you purchase small acquisitions, but they all mount up and must appear in your budget. Only when you know how much you spend can you start to save! For Martin Lewis’ free budget tool and money-saving tips to get you started, click here
No spend month ideas
- Plan ahead
make sure you plan 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 presents that you may have forgotten. Also, ask for gift cards for your birthday or Christmas, so it’s easier to socialize during your no-spending months.
- Choose a month
Spending Freeze September
Decide on a month, plan your no-spending month, and start finding ways to not spend money!
- Meal plan, batch cook, and freeze
Meal plan, batch cook, and freeze all your meals for the month to avoid picking up a takeaway, ordering in, or going out for dinner. Batch cooking is a great way to start reigning in your spending habits.
- Pack snacks to go
Prepare snacks to avoid buying snacks for you and your kids when you go out. Prepare healthy snacks to stash in your bag for eating on the go or at your desk.
- Draft a grocery list
Write a grocery list of the ingredients to make your meals for the month, snacks, drinks, and groceries ready to take with you when grocery shopping, stick to the list to reduce your grocery bill!
- Keep a money jar
Keep a jar to put all the money in that you would have spent throughout the day, and 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!
- Think of how not to spend money
Plan what you want to cut back on. From the list above, tick all the items you regularly spend money on throughout the day. Now decide which items you are not going to spend money on today. Put the money you’ve saved on those items into your money jar!
- Plan your lunches
Be prepared! Make sandwiches or pasta the night before work, so you’re not grabbing something from the canteen or one of the local small businesses.
- Start a capsule wardrobe.
Owning fewer clothes will ensure that all the items in your closet will match and go together. It will also change your shopping habits and how you shop for clothes. not purchasing any new garments is one of the easiest ways to save heaps of cash in your no-spending month.
- Start an envelope system
Prepare labeled money envelopes for each day, for essential purchases such as food, travel expenses, and fuel. Stick to it! Don’t take credit cards or any extra money out with you, other than what you need that day. remember no spending money unless it’s in the envelope!
- Let other people know that you’re on a no-spending month
It’s much easier to succeed on your no-spend month if other people know you are doing it. Instead of buying lunch, you could arrange a hike, walk, or a picnic in the park with the kids.
How much you can save on luxury food items.
- 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. Choose items to last, not to throw away after the season.
- Don’t be a fashion victim. Do not 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 not life-changing. Being debt-free certainly is! A lipstick will not make you beautiful. No one product could make any one 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 that shine from within. These are the lessons we should be teaching our children.
- Quit buying the luxuries. We don’t need anything other than the basics to keep us alive!
- Stop buying “stuff” that will end up in the charity shop in six months. 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 spending months to put towards payments on your smallest debt, get that debt paid off. Then use 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 precisely where your money is going every month.
- Try frugal living, use up beauty products and cleaning products, and upcycle clothes and furniture rather than buy new ones. Doing this 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 made £10 a day, you wouldn’t spend £20 per day, so don’t do that with your monthly wages either! You will never be wealthy unless you learn to spend less than you earn. Just ask any millionaire!
- Make it your aim to be debt-free. There is no more immense freedom than being debt-free and not having most of your wages go towards paying credit card bills and personal loans. Nothing is more depressing than paying off a holiday you went on six months ago! Imagine having all of your wages to spend on bills and enjoying yourself, as well as having some left in your bank account to save. Never again will you need to worry about how to get through the month with no money.
- Get rid of credit cards. In 2018 in the UK, the average credit card debt was £2586, which would take 26 years and four months to pay off if you only paid the minimum payment each month! Ditch the credit card and improve your credit score.
- Take a water bottle 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 also 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. Vast amounts of money are wasted on small impulse purchases, which 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 two ways stuff comes into our house, it is given to us, or we buy it. We are often given things we don’t need, and we usually buy stuff we don’t require 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 you had to sit at work 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 you will donated it 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 going 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 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 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 choices of snacks to buy are often 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 ideal for stashing in the boot and slipping 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 favorite food, drinks, and snacks. Make it a treat. My kids love a picnic. It’s their favorite part of a family day out!
✔️ Keep ice cream at home. Next time you’re grocery shopping, let your kids choose some ice cream to keep in the freezer to eat after a day out. Voila, you’ve just saved yourself a fortune at the ice cream van!
✔️ Keep distraction snacks ready, If you’re trying to save money by not buying ice cream and treats outside. Make your life easier with little ones by carrying a distraction snack to offer them instead!
✔️ Pack your own food for the cinema. If you go on a trip to the cinema, pack your popcorn, sweets, and drinks. This will save you a fortune!
✔️ Join the national trust. They have hundreds of unique places to visit and always have fantastic kid’s activities throughout the holidays all year round. Our national trust membership costs £7.00 per month for a family card that admits two adults and three children, all for the price you would pay to park your car! We use our cards most weekends and vast 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 vast 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 about 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 find new joy in an old toy every time 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 a no-spend month, and maybe over time a no-spend year!
You’ll be surprised how different things can be by spending less. After a short time, you will have much more financial freedom to do the things you 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 are 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 play a board game with me 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! The Cinnamon Trust is a fabulous charity that allows you to walk dogs for the disabled and elderly who would not normally be able to keep a dog.
For some fabulous tips on how to have a debt-free Christmas, read this post