Let’s chat about no-spend months. If you follow my Instagram then you know I am not a fan of these popular “challenges”. You are probably thinking “Alli, why are you acting like no-spend challenges are the enemy?” And the answer is because they are.
In my opinion, no spend months don’t actually change your habits. It is like a fad diet. You are just trying to get quick results without getting to the underlying reason you were in this situation in the first place.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Why are you overspending in certain categories?
- What do you need to adjust in your budget to fix this?
- What habits or new strategies can you implement so you can avoid this (or reduce this) in the future?
When trying to get yourself into a financially healthy situation you need an accurate view of your financial situation. If you take care of your basic necessities and then go and blow the rest of your money frivolously and without intent, having one no-spend month is not going to fix that. You are going to not spend money one month but the following month you may fall victim to old habits.
Usually with no-spend months you either spend a lot before preparing or you spend a lot after it’s over. Instead you need to look at why you spend the way you do. What are your emotional triggers? If you do not have triggers, but are still frivolously spending, then do you actually have any financial goals?
There are things you can do to curb impulse spending. No-spend challenges are not necessary. Instead the goal should be to spend intentionally, know exactly where your money is going, and create a realistic budget you can actually stick to.
If you’re overspending, here are things to do instead of no-spend month:
1. Track your spending
Spend an entire month tracking everything you buy. Write down every purchase and note whether it was planned or not. If it was not planned, make a note as to why you made the impulse buy.
Did you forget an event? Did something trigger you to emotionally buy? Were you influenced by a friend or social media? Be honest with yourself so you can understand the reason behind the impulse purchase. This is something I cover in detail in my signature program, Flourish FinanciALLI.
2. Add fun money to your budget
I always recommend that you have fun money in your budget even while you’re paying off debt. You can’t deprive yourself or it will be much harder to stick to your budget (and reach your big goals). Even $25/month will help. You can use this money for things you want. My fun money is usually spent on Amazon or food.
3. Review your calendar
Do you have a trip coming up? Do you wait until your calendar reminds you it is someone’s birthday before you buy gifts? Look at your calendar before the month starts to see what extra things you need to budget for. Don’t just look at this month but look a few months into the future to see if there is a bigger expense you need to start preparing for.
4. Wait 24-72 hours before buying
If you find yourself wanting to make an impulse purchase then take a screenshot or a photo of the item and wait 24 to 72 hours. After the allotted time if you still truly want the item, then research the best deal. I keep a list on my phone of wants aka things I cannot afford right now but want in the future. I review that list monthly to see if it is something I still truly want and if so I make a plan to get it. A lot of times, I don’t really want the item anymore so I just remove it from my list. Set any spending rule to help reduce impulse spending.
Instead of a month of no-spends, spend a month where everyday you unsubscribe from 5-10 marketing emails. This will curb the chances of you “happening” upon a “must have” deal.
Who are you following on social media? Most influencers are such because they are monetizing their platforms. If you follow someone because of their parenting content, but all you really get is their Amazon “must haves” then you should decide if they are really adding value to your feed.
By doing these things you can address what you are spending and why.
When you do no-spends you do not address the cause of the spending, and furthermore, if you impulse spend or spend on something not planned you have this self-imposed guilt that is not necessary and does not actually solve any problems.