Okay so I’m really excited/nervous about this because its a bit of an experiment for me. To prepare for this post/prove that it can be done I opted into a “no spend October.” What is no spend October/November you may ask? Well its pretty much exactly how it sounds. You pick a month and literally don’t spend money on extra stuff. And y’all let me tell you: it was HARD for me. BUT something just happened that NEVER happens. We had an extra $2000 floating around in our checking that my husband just transferred to savings. $2000 people!!!! That just goes to show that even people that SUCK at saving (aka yours truly) CAN do it.
I want to back it up a minute though and talk about my motivation behind this. In evaluating my spending recently (I keep a monthly budget and put in literally every line item/expense) I realized a lot of my expenses are what my husband calls “chippy” expenses. Basically, I spend on a lot of “little things” that add up FAST. Steve on the other hand likes to save up for larger ticket items. As much as I would love to disagree with him I realized I was buying a shirt here, a dress there, a pair of shoes here, a book (or 5!) there. I was triggered to spend by anything from stress, to boredom, to an email from my favorite store announcing a sale. It was getting completely out of control. So I decided to do a hard reset and quit spending cold turkey.
Here are my recommendations to prep for your own No Spend November (or December, or January, etc.):
- Remove temptation. Treat this like a diet but for your spending. You wouldn’t start a diet with a bunch of junk food in your house so get rid of the crap. For me this looked like unsubscribing from marketing emails for my favorite stores, turning off notifications or just straight up deleting shopping apps, not setting foot in stores, etc.
- Clean up and clear out. I used my “no spend” month as an excuse to take stock of what I do have and get rid of anything I didn’t need. Let me tell you…there’s a lot I don’t need/use. I took a load of books to Half Price Books, I took bags of clothes to reseller stores and Goodwill.
- Create a capsule wardrobe. I wrote a post on that here. I find its way easier not to spend money on more clothes when I’ve already made a commitment to stay within 33 seasonal items a la Project 333. I’ll do a post on my Fall/Winter capsule wardrobe soon!
- Set the rules. This is where you have to be honest with yourself about what you’re actually trying to accomplish. For me it was about removing unnecessary spending (examples for me: clothes, shoes, accessories, books, makeup, etc.) so I allowed for certain things like the following: food (this should be obvious but in case its not yes, I do buy groceries), budgeted gifts (I mean Christmas is coming y’all), basic beauty needs (this is things like: shampoo, conditioner, dry shampoo – because duh!, deodorant, toothpaste, mascara, etc.) and experiences (date nights, day trips with my kids, girls nights out, things to keep my sanity, etc.). You do you here. Make it a challenge but also keep it reasonable.
- Delete monthly subscriptions. This is a BIG one. Figure out what monthly expenses you’re incurring that you don’t use often enough for it to warrant the expense (for me it was Apple Music, an exercise app I never use and hulu). Companies are so smart and know that if they can sucker you in for a month “trial membership” they can get your money for 6-12 months (or more!) because its too much of a hassle to cancel. No ma’am. Block an hour on your calendar and DELETE/CANCEL all the things.
- Host a clothing swap. My friends Kara and Nicole at Simply Whole Moms talk about that on their blog here. I love this concept. Clean out your closet and get your hands on something that you actually may love for free. PLUS have fun with your girls! For me its all about things feeling new to me, not that they’re new with actual tags.
- Fill the gap and get creative. For me shopping fills a gap. Its like a brief high that has unhealthily allowed me to escape in my life. The point is this: identify the root cause and fill that gap up. For me: the root cause of my spending was several things but the predominant one was boredom and emptiness. Once I filled up my time with things that make me happy it was easy to say no to that shirt I thought I had to have. For me this looks like going to the park with my boys, a bubble bath, actually reading one of the zillion books on my bookshelf, a good phone chat with a friend, etc. More self care musings in this post. This poem #546 by Emily Dickinson pretty much sums it up:
To fill a Gap
Insert the Thing that caused it—
Block it up
With Other—and ’twill yawn the more—
You cannot solder an Abyss
Tell me about your no spend month tips and tricks in the comments section below!