Have you heard of a “No Spend” month? Or have you perhaps participated in a No Spend month? Most frugal folks who spend any amount of time on the internet have likely read a blogger article or two about taking a No Spend month challenge and are then left intrigued by the idea and wondering if they should give it a try. You might be seeing these articles more often at this time of year too as many folks have the New Years resolution of saving money.
A No Spend month, if you’re not familiar with it, is a month where you only spend money on the most basic necessities like a mortgage, utilities, food, and gas. All other spending like purchasing clothing, household decorations or accessories, or entertainment is stopped for the month. There are no hard and fast rules for what you can or can’t spend money on. You can decide what the necessities for your household are, as well what your weak spots are when it comes to spending.
The hope is that at the end of the month, you will have saved a whole bunch of money that you’ve just been frittering away during a normal month.
Should I Do A “No Spend” Month?
So yes, I’ve been reading these articles about No Spend months. And I’m a frugal sort of person who’s always interested in saving money. And you would think I would want to do this.
But I don’t.
I’ve decided a No Spend month is a good idea for some folks, but is quite unnecessary for others. A No Spend month isn’t a good fit for me, and may not be a good fit for you either.
Let’s take a look at four reasons why a No Spend Month isn’t right for you:
Why You Might Not Need A “No Spend” Month
1 – You already know what you have
A common theme I see in people who write about their No Spend month is that it made them realize they had a closet full of clothes they weren’t wearing or had a pantry full of cans and mixes they forgot about. Then they utilize these “found” items for the month instead of running out to the store to buy more.
However if you’re like me, you already know what you have. I’m not going to find any surprise pieces of clothing in my closet or forgotten items in my pantry. There’s no backlog of inventory to spend down. It’s going to be life as usual because I already know what I have.
And I usually check what I have before going to the store too. For instance if I’m starting a new craft project, I take a look at the craft supplies I already have first so that I don’t purchase double of something I already have. I take the time to figure out what I already have.
If you too are organized and keep tidy closets and pantries that are not stuffed to the gills with mystery items, it’s doubtful that a No Spend month will bring you much benefit in discovering “new” things you already had.
2 – You don’t enjoy shopping
Another common theme of those who participate in a No Spend month is that it forces many women to realize how often they go to the store out of boredom or just for something to do. But me? I usually find ways to avoid the store!
Oh sure, I have some favorite spots I like to check out (hello 70% off clothing rack at Target!), but I’m much quicker to read a book or pick up my knitting when I’ve got some spare time than I am to think about going shopping. I don’t like the crowds and I don’t like the prices.
A common theme I’ve repeated on this blog is I like to give my readers DIY ideas to “use what you have to make what you need.” I like to live this way because it means you can come up with solutions without going to the store . . . because I usually don’t feel like going to the store. 🙂
If shopping holds little lure for you as a recreational past time, a No Spend month will probably not result in any lifestyle changes or much saved money for you in this area either.
3 – You eat at home
A No Spend month often results in people discovering that lots of money is saved because they switch to eating at home instead of eating out.
But we already eat at home. That’s not to say that Hubby and I never, ever go out to eat. We treat ourselves out to a meal every now and then. But our normal routine is to plan meals for the week, buy groceries for a week, and to eat our meals at home. We are more likely to keep a frozen pizza in the freezer for a back-up plan at the end of a busy workday than we are to head on over to the Olive Garden.
Again, it’s kind of like the shopping thing for me. I don’ find that much enjoyment in being out in the crowds. Sipping a glass of wine with a homemade meal at my own kitchen table often sounds like the better option. A No Spend month is not likely to bring many changes to me in this area either.
4 – You already track your money
I’m quite baffled and/or amazed when I read No Spend month stories where the people save enough at the end of the month to go on a trip or something. Hundreds of dollars appear for them that they didn’t realize they had.
Didn’t realize? What??
There’s no way hundreds of dollars are appearing for me at the end of a month that I didn’t “realize” I had. We already realize what we have.
We use software to budget our money, and Hubby likes to make spreadsheets, so we are very much aware of what money comes in and what money goes out. We are people of modest income and have always felt that it was important to spend what we have wisely. That’s not to say we do a perfect job of it every day, but we’ve got a good grasp on where our money goes.
I’m not saying this to put others down and I’m glad they are at last getting a fix on their household finances. However if you have already taken this step, or it is already in your nature to like to track your finances, a No Spend month is not going to uncover hundreds of dollars that you can utilize elsewhere.
What A No Spend Month is Really About
All these reasons really come back to the same thing, and that thing is what the benefit of a No Spend month really is.
It’s about learning discipline.
It’s about having the discipline to look in the refrigerator first instead of running to the restaurant.
It’s about having the discipline to track your finances on a spreadsheet.
It’s about having the discipline to not buy more when you already have a closet full.
It’s about the discipline of keeping an orderly house so you can use your resources wisely.
A No Spend month is about the discipline of saying No to immediate wants and instead looking at long term goals like saving money. If that’s an area where you want to grow, then by all means, give a No Spend month a try. It might be just the thing to help you finally make some important changes.
However if you’ve already taken steps and grown in these areas, and you have a naturally disciplined personality already, a No Spend month is not likely to bring any surprises or big lifestyle changes your way.
What I’m Working On
Can you be too disciplined? That’s what I’m working on!
In fact I could probably use a “Oh heck Bev, just spend something” month. 🙂
Some people pick a word for the year; a word that expresses something they want to remember or work on. I decided to do that this year.
I picked the word “Abundance”.
Did I pick that because I’m greedy? Or because I want lots of stuff to come to me this year?
No, I picked it so I would remember that God wants to send me blessings and abundance and often my disciplined nature denies me the ability to enjoy them or to have gratitude for them.
I recently read an illustration that said too often it’s like we are standing in a stream, but we’re looking downstream and we feel like everything is flowing past us with no ability to grab on to it and enjoy it. Instead we should turn around. We should stand in the stream looking upstream and welcome all the good things that are flowing to us.
I saw myself in that illustration. Looking downstream with my hands closed, all disciplined and letting things pass me by. I need to stand in the stream of life looking upstream with hands wide open, ready to accept all the good things God wants to send my way.
I want to be ready to accept Abundance.
(The picture below is me looking upstream at the creek near a walking path I often use)
Life is about balance. We need some discipline, but we need to be able to welcome abundance sometimes too. We all have to find where we fall on the spectrum and what each of us needs to work on.
How about you? What are you working on? Will you be doing a No Spend month? Feel free to leave me a comment below with your thoughts!