can you go 30 days without spending?

Can You Go 30 Days Without Spending? Could Be Easier Than You Think

By Michael Peterson
In May 1, 2019

Spending money is a habit. It’s a self-imposed behavior that you grew into. This means, like any habit, you have the power to change it.

It starts with awareness. Evaluating your habits will help you determine what you repeatedly spend. Start by thinking through your typical day: What are all the things you buy? Have you ever stopped to consider every little daily expense?

The exercise of tracking your spending habits might be eye-opening. And if opening your eyes to this gives you pause, maybe it’s time you try a spending freeze. Challenging yourself to a No-Spend Month is a great kick-start to adjusting your spending habits.

The Ground Rules: What Does “No Spend” Mean?

First things first: You’ll have to define what “No Spend” means to you. Unless you live completely off the grid, you undoubtedly have several fixed mandatory expenses, like your mortgage and utilities. You might have other fixed expenses, like a car payment or student loans/tuition. These are all non-negotiable, so they don’t count as spending – after all, the purpose of this exercise is to spend less, not fall behind on your bills!

But you probably have some wiggle room with your other monthly expenses. Here are a few places to consider restricting your spending:

Groceries: Of course you need to eat. But you don’t need to spend money on extras, like soda and snack foods. Plan your meals for a whole week in advance, then stick to that list – no extra spending. And NEVER shop hungry! You’re more likely to lose your willpower.

Gas: If you drive for work or shuttle the kids back and forth to school and soccer practice, gas is another necessary expenditure. But consider only filling half a tank, then choosing to bike or walk or use public transit for your errands and other less time-sensitive activities.

Pre-planned activities: You’ve already got your parents’ 50th anniversary surprise party in the works. Your kids go to summer music camp. You’ve been planning that vacation since last fall. Obviously you can’t cancel these activities now. Pre-planned events can be exempted from your No-Spend Month (unless you want to try and pare down some event-related expenses. That’s advanced-level stuff – although the results could be all the more rewarding!).

The Cuts: No Spending. No Exceptions.

Here’s where you need to do a little prep work. Brainstorm a list of ALL the possible items you could conceivably shell out for in any given month. Remember, this doesn’t include the elements listed above; unfortunately, those will stick with you.

Consider everything else the vast wasteland of discretionary spending. Most of the items in your list will be things that you could eliminate and still survive. Obviously, your list is personal and won’t look like anyone else’s. But here are some common places to start generating your own ideas:

  • New clothes or shoes
  • Dining out
  • Going to the movies
  • Cable
  • Gym membership (especially if you never go!)
  • Daily half-caff pumpkin spice latte
  • Kids’ activities with fees
  • Mani/pedi or other salon treatments
  • Your thermostat (lower it by just a couple degrees)
  • Last-minute travel

The key here is, don’t put yourself in situations where you’ll wind up spending money. You know yourself – if you can’t just “window shop” or browse at your favorite store, consider avoiding that store entirely. If there’s a purchase that really can’t wait (be honest!), only go into the store when you’ve planned ahead. This goes for brick-and-mortar establishments as well as online storefronts.

Your goal is to cut as many of your expenditures as possible for the maximum savings over the next month. But it doesn’t mean you need to live like a pauper. If it feels like you’re giving up every shred of enjoyment, maybe you’ve taken it too far. On the other hand, remind yourself that this exercise is over at the end of the month! Make a game of it: If there are multiple members of your household, compete to see who can come up with the most superfluous expenses.

savor the savingsThe Just Rewards: Savor the Savings

Sure, you will hopefully see a nice pile of savings after this 30-day exercise. But a No-Spend Month is more than just a money-saving scheme – it can actually adjust your entire financial outlook… from spending to saving.

More than likely, you’ll realize that many of your regular expenses are just plain unnecessary. You’ll understand that you can continue to live without them, long after this month is over. Maybe you’ll even find additional items to slash that you didn’t consider in the first place.

And the fewer “silly expenses” you have, the more you can use to pay off debt or – better yet – stash into your high-yield savings to build up an emergency fund. One month’s savings are impressive, but when you compound the results over several months (and then several years), your compounded savings may astound you.

Remember: If you slip up, don’t scold yourself or get discouraged. The fact that you’re even working on a No-Spend Month means you’ve taken the first (and hardest!) step toward smarter spending. So pat yourself on the back, and get back on the financial horse.

Making changes toward healthy financial habits shouldn’t be scary. All it takes is a first step to get started. The team at DebtGuru.com has helped many customers achieve their financial goals with savings strategies like this one. We understand that it’s not easy, and we offer guidance for every situation.

Michael Peterson

Mike is the author of “Reality Millionaire: Proven Tips to Retire Rich” and he has been published in a variety of local and national publications including Entrepreneur Magazine, Deseret Morning News, LDS Living Magazine, and Physicians Money Digest. He holds a B.S. in business administration from the University of Phoenix.