In my opinion, nothing puts money into perspective quite like a no-spend November, or even just a week or two without spending money. I like to think of myself as a practical and frugal spender. I’m good at saving money and taking care of my bills. Still, I was shocked last November when I ended up adding over $200 to my savings account (0n top of my normal monthly savings) and had extra cash in my checking account without working overtime. The only change was I didn’t spend money. It also gives you perspective on what is truly important, makes you craftier and more creative, and also shows you just how blessed you already are.
My number one goal for the no-spend November wasn’t actually saving money. I wanted to see if I could get by with what I already had. Turns out, I had more than enough. It made me more appreciative for what I already have. My goal was thankfulness and it worked. Want to feel more thankful? Start noticing the abundance all around you.
Because of the impact my no-spend November had on me last year, I am participating again this year. You may decide you want to give it a try. You don’t have to commit to an entire month. Try a full day or even a full week.
And this project is for anyone. When I committed to my first no-Spend month I wasn’t a big spender and I was not making a lot of money. It was tight every month when rent was due. I rarely splurged to begin with and thought I was very good at not wasting money. I rarely ate out or bought myself treats. It turned out, I did spend more than I needed or even should without even realizing it. I understand that not everyone has a choice about being a part of a no-spend November, especially because some people cannot afford to spend anything at all, not even to make ends meet. But no matter where you are with your savings, I have found that being intentional with your spending and the choice not to spend at all, can make an impact for everyone, big or small.
I set up some rules for myself:
- Only buy necessities.
- Groceries, gas, utilities, and other bills are necessities, but I had to be careful about what extras might sneak in with those payments. (Extras like Netflix or other monthly subscriptions that I paid for every month.)
- I could spend whatever I wanted on food. I believe that food is important. But with one catch: it had to be a necessity. I could spend whatever I wanted on organic, all natural, and healthy foods. But I couldn’t purchase those frozen fruit bars I love. Fruit is a necessity for a healthy body, but dessert isn’t.
- I also aimed to use up the food in my own home pantry before adding more groceries to the collection I already had at home. Turns out, my tiny rental kitchen cabinets held more than I thought.
- No splurging on meals out. I bought all my food to prepare at home. On days where I had to eat out, I made sure it was a simple and healthy meal. In other words, a necessity, not a fancy lunch out.
- No money spent on entertainment (nights out, going to the movies, games, magazines, etc.). Entertainment is fun, but again, not a necessity. Not when I already had so much to entertain myself at home. There are also many free alternatives for entertainment while hanging out with friends.
- This also meant a book ban. I know, this one was tough! But I knew I had some books at home that I had not read yet. It was time to focus on those before even thinking of buying another one.
- I did make an exception for important social courtesies such as thank you and birthday cards, gifts for special occasions (like upcoming Christmas), and donations for good causes.
- For clothing, I promised to only buy items if I absolutely had to. I didn’t have to. I had plenty of warm sweaters, a good jacket, and durable shoes already. I realized I needed less than I thought.
- If I needed something that would only be used once or twice, I decided to ask to borrow from a friend instead of buying it. These items can be cookware or a tray for an event, a dress for a party borrowed from your friend’s closet, tools for a project, sports equipment, games for a night with friends, a hot glue gun or other craft items, a leaf blower for your yard, a book, a movie, etc.
- Only necessities meant no treats: chai tea lattes on my lunch break, bubble gum or mints at the check out counter, trinkets at the store, etc.
You don’t have to follow my rules, but maybe some of them may inspire you to make a temporary change this November (or even a more permanent one). If you had a no-spend November, even just a simple no-spend week, what differenced do you think it would make?
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