Around the final days of every month I ask myself how I've gotten there — broke and contemplating whether I’ll need to tap into my savings account before my next paycheck. To avoid that second most horrible time of the month, I recently started enacting ways to have a no-spend day. I’ve done it multiple times now and I really find it to be so refreshing for my mind and my checking account. It has made me consider what things I actually need and what things are simply wants in my life.
A lot of times I tend to convince myself that I “deserve” to spend money on things because I worked extra hard that day. It’s nice to reward ourselves for certain accomplishments, but when it starts to become an everyday occurrence — and our rewards are getting bigger and more expensive — it’s time to pause and re-evaluate. At a certain age we naturally have to begin considering expenses like student loans, rent and mortgages, utilities, and expenses for our children and pets. If we’re still wasting away money every day on multiple coffee runs and online shopping, we might reach a point where we’re stressed having to pay the important expenses we're faced with. Having an occasion no-spend day can help put things into perspective — at least it has for me.
I’ve got a little tough love for you right now. From one spender to another, here are seven ways to have a no-spend day, all of which have proven incredibly helpful for me, and hopefully will for you as well:
1. Don’t Deny The Importance Of Planning
Now that you’ve committed to not spend one unnecessary dollar, let’s get the wheels into motion. The best way to plan for a no-spend day is to do just that… plan. The night before, think through everything you’d normally spend money on the next day, and then highlight the absolute necessities, like gas and toll costs to get to work. Put aside the exact amount you anticipate you’ll need for those absolutely “musts,” and everything else go ahead and cross off the list. According to Today, planning can be a huge part of making sure you actually save where you say you will. (They actually outline a year-long saving plan here which sounds really cool and simple, if that something you’re up for.)
2. “Lose” Your Credit Cards
Don’t actually lose them, of course, but put them somewhere you won’t have easy access to them — like a dresser drawer next to you bed, or in your significant other’s possession for the day (unless you think they’ll use them, in which case we might have way bigger issues at hand!). According to BankRate.com, the less often a credit card is in your wallet, the less often you’ll be making an impulse purchase. Even though those credit card dollars don’t seem as “real” as cash in the moment, they’re even more real in actuality — just think of those interest rates!
3. Pack A Lunch
If you’re looking in your fridge and thinking there’ simply nothing there to bring with you, look again. Not to sound like a tyrant, but… it’s one day. You can eat a lunch you don’t completely love for one single day if it means cutting back on spending. Depending on where you live and work, you could save an easy $10-20 dollars by not buying your lunch out that day. (I’ll never forget the day I got a small, prepackaged salad for lunch from a place in Chelsea Market and it cost me over $17. Insane.) According to Business Insider, we could all save an average of nearly $2,000 if we didn’t buy lunch every day.
4. Skip Starbucks
A very, very simple way to save money is to make coffee at home, according to Huffington Post. I love Starbucks as much as any basic girl, but sometimes I need to mentally stop myself and think, “Do I really need a $4.15 coffee today?” The large majority of the time my answer is no — it just takes me that extra moment to force myself to consider it. Making coffee at home is far cheaper and, frankly, easier too. If you’re a coffee addict, you might also be known to make a Starbucks run mid-day as well. Hold your horses! If your office has a coffee machine, make some there instead. As I’ve said, it’s one day — it’s certainly not going to kill you to drink a mediocre coffee versus a specialty one (first world problems, ladies, first world problems).
5. Avoid Instagram
This is going to sound strange, but bear with me. While Instagram used to be seemingly more about keeping up with fun photos of our friends, now it’s filled to the brim with advertisements. By this I not only mean the ads that actually say the word, “Sponsored,” but also the more subliminal ones posted by celebrities and other big names.
Have you heard the analysis that Kendall Jenner’s Instagram is valued somewhere between $125,000 and $350,00 per post? Brands pay big time to be featured on these high-profile pages, and then there’s me who is sitting at home convincing myself I really need the necklace my favorite celebrity is wearing, and how can I find and buy it immediately. I’m not intending on shopping, I just happen upon pictures of things I must, must, have and there goes the rest of my paycheck. A trick that works for me on no-spend days is to be Instagram-free. If I’m not tempting myself, my chances are success are far better.
6. Go Straight Home After Work & Don’t Open That Laptop
Put those metaphorical blinders on and drive right home. Yes, that means passing by the mall without even considering going in. Once you’re home safe and sounds, the temptation to shop might still be there, but you can fight it. According to AARP.org, the Internet has taking the notion of “impulse shopping” to a whole new level. The site noted a study by research and consulting firm User Interface Engineering, which showed impulse purchases account for almost 40 percent of all the money spent on e-commerce sites. How do we avoid this? Don’t even open your computer. Voila! Just like that, the tempt to fill your virtual shopping cart will diminish.
7. Figure Out A Free Activity To Do During Your Downtime
If your nightly routine involves renting a movie, opt to scan through your channels and find something that’s free to watch instead. If you’ve been addicted to expensive workout classes, skip that for the night and go for a walk with your girlfriends, run outside, or take a free class at your gym or office. A really fun (and free!) thing I did recently was break out my old box of stuff from college. It was filled with seemingly a million pictures I thought I’d lost forever. Before I knew it hours had passed, I hadn't spent a dollar, and I’d had an awesome time reminiscing.
If your will to do this is strong enough, I’m very confident in your ability to have a no-spend day. Who knows — maybe you’ll like the challenge so much that you’ll turn it into a no-spend week. Whatever happens, I wish you and your wallet the best of luck.
Images: Pixabay (8); Pexels