You’ve seen the success stories.
The families that got on board with a no spend month, saved $1,000’s and came out the other side with a whole new outlook on frugality.
Those families are rock stars.
Seriously! They are the thing that we all aspire to be. Rock-solid in our convictions. Able to stick to a strict regimine for months at time. Creative to a fault.
We all love reading their stories.
But like it or not, not everyone is like them.
There is no shame in admitting that we don’t all have that resolve, that we can’t cook from the freezer for an entire month, or that we can’t go a month without setting foot (and spending money) in a retail store.
Nope, that’s just not in the cards for me.
Why do we say no to no spend months?
Because it’s restrictive.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the concept.
In fact, I’ve done Empty The Freezer Challenges, beat your budget challenges, and make extra money challenges. I started blogging just to see if I could make money at it, and I love a good deal as much as the next gal.
But a no-spend month just sounds horrible to me.
I’ve tried – oh man, have I tried! – to chance my attitude about no-spend months.
Once, we even tried to complete one, hoping that finishing would change our perspective of them.
I didn’t work. We quit 10 days in.
See, my husband is a reluctant budgeter. On my best day, I’m imperfect at this personal finance stuff.
But that’s why I share my life with you all.
Because perfect doesn’t exist.
And because for everyone that a no-spend month works for, there will be 10 others that want to cry at the thought of it.
And that’s ok.
Life didn’t come with a series of personal finance mandates like “Thou shalt save 10% of your income. Always.” “Thou shalt write your budget down on paper. Software don’t do.” or “You can’t be frugal without no-spend months.”
Nope, personal finance is just that: personal.
What works for one person may or may not work for you. You may have to try 10 different methods before you find one that works for you, and the method that works for you one year may not work the next.
You might get set in your ways and need to shake it up.
And you might not agree with the experts.
And that’s ok.
If you never complete a a no-spend month, or even if you never even think about one, guess what? Your budget is going to be ok! You’re still frugal, you’re still working on it, and you’re still imperfect, just like each and every one of us.
If you don’t start saving until 25 – gasp! – guess what? That is what makes your finances personal. And provided you have a plan, your finances are going to be just fine. You’re still imperfect, like all of us.
So instead of obsessing over no-spend month successes, or your family’s lack of enthusiasm (or your own!) try one of these challenges instead.
They won’t all work for you, but one of them will.
10 Things To Try Instead of A No-Spend Month
An Empty The Freezer Challenge
Rather than the crazy-restrictiveness of a no-spend month, try an Empty the Freezer Challenge. Commit to using up all of the stuff in the back/bottom of your freezer for a week or a month at a time. You can still buy groceries, although you will try not to, but shopping for food is fair game as long as you’re using up what is already in your freezer.
A Date-Night Challenge
Have you seen those cute Christmas presents where the husband plans out a year’s worth of dates, already paid for and planned? It think that’s adorable, but expensive, so what if you put together 12 free, pre-planned dates? There is always something to do for free, whether its summer, winter, fall, or spring, so get creative and spend some quality time together that doesn’t cost fortune.
A Take Your Lunch To Work Month
As hard as we try to always, always pack our lunch for work, sometimes life happens. The kids ruin your morning, the car breaks down, you just plain forget, and end up buying lunch. Commit to packing your work lunch for a week or a month at time, feeling free to shop as needed and enjoy the savings it brings.
Make Your Own Cleaning Chemicals
You don’t have to make them all, but the next time you run out of, say, window cleaner, make your own! Recipes are plentiful and easy to make, and you’ll feel better saving money and getting a few toxic chemicals out of your home.
Do a 5-Minute Budget Check-in
Either in person, via text, or over the phone, quickly complete a budget check-in. Talk about the budget lines you’re over on, the ones approaching full, and ones that you’re doing great at. Use my Marriage & Money Book + Workbook to get the maximum benefits from a quick budget-check-in!
Start using Personal Capital to track your spending.
Personal Capital is free and it allows you to link your checking, savings, investments, credit cards, and loans so you can see them all in one dashboard. Quickly see where your money is going, and get feedback about how you can make your investments more efficient.
Start investing $100/month.
It takes 5 minutes, and you won’t it even miss the $100 when you start investing with Betterment. Low fees, a variety of risk-tolerant portfolios, and the easiest investing experience I’ve ever had, do something great for your finances and start investing today.
Sign up for Digit.
The tool that saves money so you won’t even miss it, Digit analyzes your spending patterns and transfers money to your Digit savings account when (and in amounts) you won’t notice. Digit is free, and you can withdraw money in your Digit savings account at any time. Your budget will thank you.
Hire eMeals to plan your meals.
Overwhelmed at the variety offered by the grocery store and your freezer? Minimize waste and make your shopping trips more cost-effective + take the meal planning load off! Meals plans with eMeals start at $5 a month, and they’re a no-brainer if your grocery spending is out of control.
Find a free family activity one weekend.
Google “Your city” + “free family activities” and see what pops up! Most cities – even smaller ones – will have free community activities at least once a month. Often, they’re family friendly and are something you haven’t done before, which is awesome, because its free!
There are about 30 other frugal activities I could list here that sound 2,000% more enjoyable than a no-spend month, which is what makes it ok for us to never, ever attempt on again.
What are your feelings on no-spend months? Have you ever attempted on? Tell me below in the comments!
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