money management

How to Get Ready for a No Spend Month

A No Spend month, just the thought of it creates stress. Forget having any fun or spending time with friends, you’ll just be stuck on your couch doing nothing all month. But a no spend month is sometimes necessary, especially if you’re trying to save for something or have a financial emergency. But by preparing in advance, it can be easier to deal with. It can even be a little fun if you challenge yourself to do things without spending any money.

These tips will help you get ready so that you can manage it without a lot of stress.

Create your rules

You’ll need to set some rules about what you can and can’t spend money on. Even though it’s a no-spend month, you’re still going to have to eat, fill the gas tank, and get any prescription medications you take. And if you’ve made plans to do something with friends or family or have a special event on the calendar, you may need to spend a little. Start by writing down the exceptions that you are allowed to spend money on so that you have a visual to keep you accountable. Things like:

  • Medications
  • Milk, Fruit, and Vegetables (perishable items you can’t buy in advance)
  • Gas for the care so you can get back & forth to work
  • Any necessary gifts (with a spend limit, say no more than $20)

Tell your friends and family

Not only will you need a support system to help keep you accountable, you also don’t want to be tempted with invitations to do things you can’t do, so let the people close to you know what your plans are. It will be easier to get through the month if you’re loved ones are supporting you.

Get ready

Get whatever you need ahead of time if you can. Make a list of any personal care and health items you made need so you can have backups on hand. You only need enough to get you through one month.

Plan your meals

Create a meal plan for the month with as many non-perishable items that you can. This will help you avoid buying groceries. Stock your freezer and get backups of pasta, rice, and sauces to keep in your pantry. Plan to buy only perishable foods like milk, produce, and eggs.

Don’t forget your pets

Your pets will need to eat throughout the month too so make sure you have plenty of food for them on hand. And if they need medications, get those as well.

Don’t forget to have fun

Just because you can’t spend money doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun. There are plenty of things in your local area that are free like parks and museums; this is a great time to be a tourist and visit all the sites that are free. What can you do at home? This is a great time to take on those DIY projects, finally read those books in your “to be read” pile, get the family together for game night, and have a movie night with the DVD’s in your library.

Get in the right mindset

This month is going to be challenging so prepare yourself mentally. Remember your “why”, write it down and stick notes all over the house so you see them everywhere. Think of this month as a game that will have a wonderful financial prize for you when it’s over.

Remember, it will only last for 30 days! You can get through it!

About the author

Emilie Burke

Emilie is a politics-major turned data engineer. She graduated from Princeton University in 2015 and from Smartly with her MBA in 2016. She lives in North Carolina with her college sweetheart Casey who is currently stationed at Fort Bragg. She enjoys eating food, cuddling with her dog, and binge watching HGTV. She blogs at Burke Does. You can find her around the web at @emilielimaburke.

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