January 2015 = No Spend Month.
No Spend Month lets you recalibrate. Maybe you spend a lot and want break the habit cold turkey. Maybe you want to be more creative about social time, so you ban spending on it. Maybe you want to put all your money towards paying off your credit card. Whatever your reason, cutting extra spending is a great way to take stock of your financial situation. Since my goal is to live on >$20k this year, I’m starting the year off by seeing what it currently costs me to live for a month (see Live on Less Than $20k).
No Spending isn’t a practical all the time – occasionally you need contact solution or a new pair of sneakers. But I might do it every other month, or once a quarter. While Not Spending, I keep a list of all the things I think I want to buy. Next month I’ll review that list and see if I still want to go shopping.
Some friends have been confused – one asked if I’m buying groceries (yes). Getting your power turned off or living on stale crackers is not the point. The point is to notice what you save when you only buy necessities (this can be very reassuring!). You should pay your rent, bills, transit costs, and groceries. But don’t choose this month to make lobster bisque or take a road trip. Instead,
- Cook your way through the pantry and freezer, and only buy essential additions to what you already have (Milk. Fresh veggies).
- Get creative about how you travel. Take the bus. WALK. Carpool. You’re buying fewer things so you have fewer errands to run! (In fact, ever notice how many errands involve purchases? Just about all of them.)
- Shake up your social scene (no happy hours or coffee dates this month). Have people over and drink up those holiday bottles of wine. Hold a potluck. Drink that tea in the back of the cupboard.
If you’re starting 2015 with No Extra Spending, chime in!