Tuesday, 7 July 2009

No Spending Days

By: Frugal Trenches

Lately I've had a few people suggest I share one of my frugal systems with you all! Heather did a great post on the envelope system here on the co-op last week, so I thought it might be relevant to show what else you can do to help you be frugal with your pennies!

No Spending Days.

I know it sounds simple, I bet a lot of us think we don't spend that often, but in reality with drive through, pharmacies and department stores on every corner, not to mention those coffee shops, I'm amazed at how often we actually spend money. When I was starting my no spending days (which a reader introduced me to), I remember really struggling to not spend money on any day, yes it was small things like a tomato here and there for a recipe, the odd newspaper, a Birthday card or coffee during my lunch break at work. When I started adding up those small spends, I couldn't believe how much it worked out to over the course of a week, month and year. When I mentioned it to some friends of mine they said they felt in modern society you do need to spend most days, well that was all the encouragement I needed to show people you don't.

So just how do no spending days work?

- You set yourself a target, for example to start no spending 2 days a week. Circle those days on the calendar, put it in your diary, wake up and remember today is a no spending day.

- On a no spending day you do not buy anything, not for yourself or your partner or your children.

- On a no spending day you will have to go without whatever it is you forget/want/need such as groceries, magazines, gum, bottle of wine, coffee, lunch out, bus tickets etc.

I am amazed (as were my readers who decided to accept the challenge) how much money I saved, mainly because by having to wait to purchase things it made me choose not to purchase them and save my money instead. I also found planning became more routine, so preparing lunch, snacks, drinks ahead of time really meant I wasn't tempted to buy. I was also resolute that I would succeed in my challenge and save even more money so that I could achieve my downshifting dreams.

When I first began 1 no spending day a week was hard, oh so hard, now I can quite easily manage 4-5 no spending days a week. Is it always easy? No. Do I always succeed? Not at all, but I now have another frugal tool up my sleeve that helps me save money, reduce my consumer tendencies and lead a more simple life. In fact I think I need to set myself a new no spending day challenge!

Have you ever tried no spending days? Would you be able to try to set aside 2-3 days a week where you don't spend?


Tree Hugging Mama said...

If you have mastered the no spending days(and I really like this idea) then perhaps you want to stretch yourself and do one or two weeks of no spending. You would have to plan for it, because you would need to pay all your bills (or make an allowance that paying bills during this time period does not qualify as spending) and you would have to do your grocery shopping accordingly.

You could also shoot for two no spend moths a year. Again this would not account for paying monthly bills (those have to get paid), but you could see if you could make do with what you have. Again some might like to make an exception to buy milk weekly (but you could try alternatives that would last the whole week, or I have recently learned you can freeze milk).
I personally plan to add one no spend day a week (and make it Friday) and then add a second no spend day a week (Thursday - since I shop on Sat), and then when that is old hat add one no spend week a month (on top of the two no spend days each week), and then add two no spend months a year. I think January and July would be good no spend months (but vacations would have to be worked out around them). I know January would be ideal because its past holidays and I usually have a well stocked freezer and pantry, and then either July or August (depending on my summer vacation plans). I will let you know. I have a blog traking my progress going greener and becoming more frugal, but I don't know how to link or anything like that. Its called Frugal is Green.

Holly said...

Although I work "in town", I live in a rural area 6 miles from the nearest store and that has made me be much more aware that I need to keep a running grocery list and replenish basics before they run out! Having all necessities in the house makes it much easier to have "no spending days" -- it just happens naturally. I do one major shopping a month, then supplement perishables weekly.

Annodear said...

Great idea!
I know that I'm always rather pleased with myself on days off when I manage to *not* leave the house all day/ not drive my car/ not spend a *penny* :-)

Also get a kick out of when I work (volunteer usher) concerts. I get there early enough to park on the street, so that's free, and I pack a dinner and water bottle. I've seen many top notch shows, and walked away knowing that it cost me *not a cent*.

Ditto with work days. Yesterday I brought both breakfast and lunch and *didn't* go for coffee during my break and it just gives me a good feeling to know that the same amount of money that I had in my wallet the day before is still there.

I never thought of assigning certain days as "no spending" days, tho. Going to do just that!
Thanks for a great post!

Eilleen said...

What a great post and what a great idea! I think I'll have to do this one. :)

india said...

living on a farm "no-spending" days outnumber the other ones...

Georgie said...

Great idea! I would find it difficult because, 5 days a week I have to catch buses to take my daughter to school. It'd take about 1.5 hours to walk, each way. But I might shoot for doing it one weekend day a fortnight or something.

Regan Family Farm said...

Thanks for raising my awareness...there are probably some "no-spending" days in my life, but it will be fun to "pay" more attention to when and how frequent. Then...to set a goal :)

5dollarsaday said...

I love it when I realize at the end of the day that I haven't spent any money that day.

Until recently, I was the type of person who could find a way to spend money in a sensory deprivation chamber. Once I started paying attention to packing food and not carrying cash, it's become much easier to go without spending.

stephanie said...

I've been doing no-spend months every so often, but I have my own rules/exceptions. Like in July I can only buy groceries, gas, and household necessities. I can also spend the small amounts of money I make selling things. It really makes a difference!

MoneyFunk said...

I save a little over $200 on my No Spend Week. You just have to watch the rebound factor the week after.

Sandra said...

I will try this idea. I'm on a tight budget this days (who isn't?) and really need to build up my savings account.

Thanks for the tip!

BTW You have a great blog, will be visiting often.

frugalurban said...

I call these "Zero-Dollar Days", and if my hubby and I both manage, it's a "Double-Zero-Dollar Day". I record it in my moleskine with a "$0" or a "$0$0" accordingly. For some reason it's a great motivator to record those little zeros in my diary.

I should mention that hubby & I both live & work downtown. With $0 days, it motivates me to be better organized so we don't spend money when we're out. Also, inspiring the hubby to *bring* coffee instead of *buying* it every day has been a major coup; the $0 days help drive the point home ;)