As we enter the final days of winter, why not wrap up this season with a challenge that will buff up your budget and prepare you financially for spring and summer break? The challenge would be a no-spend-month hence the name, 30-Day Spending Hiatus.
I know what you’re thinking – “But that’s impossible! I need to eat, pay bills and pay for gas.” Clearly, it’s impossible to cut spending COMPLETELY for an entire month if you are a living and responsible human here on earth. Obviously, your basic essentials are excluded.
It may sound easy but trust me, it’s not. To help you succeed in the challenge, here are 7 ways to get you through the 30-Day Spending Hiatus without fail.
Are you ready? Let’s do this.
1. Write down your “wants” and “needs.”
On a piece of paper or on your phone, laptop or tablet, make a list of everything you have to spend on in order to survive – bills, mortgage, groceries, utilities, gas, etc. and a list of things you want but don’t actually need like monthly subscriptions, mani/pedi, daily Starbucks run, etc. EVERYTHING in your “want” section will be put on hold for 30 days. Hey, you won’t die if you quit Starbucks for a month.
2. Figure out where you want your money to go.
Fast forward to 30 days from now, think about how you want to spend that big chunk of money you were able to spend. A bigger savings account, retirement, emergency fund, insurance or vacation? Whatever that is, make it your goal and let it inspire and motivate you.
3. Plan your meals for the whole month.
There are tons of budget-friendly monthly meal plans that you can find online to help you plan your meals ahead of time and avoid the occasional take-outs or restaurant meals which are prohibited in the challenge. As for groceries, start by using what you already have inside your fridge and pantry and just buy the ingredients and items that you really need for that month. Exhaust all the coupons and discounts that you can get and ensure that you only buy exactly what you need, with exact proportions and all.
4. Shop your own closet.
Since you can’t buy new stuff for the whole month, go through your old belongings and see what you can use and upcycle. Unearth clothes and accessories that you have forgotten about – it’s like wearing something new without spending a dollar.
5. Give homemade gifts.
Although it’s not something that you need to survive, it’s still necessary for us to give our loved ones presents on special occasions. But you can do this without spending. Pinterest has a lot of homemade gifts ideas that you can make for free or just do online.
6. Check for free activities.
You can’t just sit at home doing nothing for 30 days. Check out the free activities and events offered in your neighborhood and do something fun with your friends and family for free. Bring along a snack so you don’t have to eat out.
7. Assess your outcome.
After 30 days, assess the outcome and how you dealt with the challenge. How did it change your way of thinking? How has it affected your spending habits? Are you willing to do it again? Is there something that you need to modify? Take a moment to evaluate the results and figure out how you can keep these habits.