January is all about getting our budget back under control. The best way for me to reset the way I think about money after a month of financial gluttony is with a no-buy month. Today we’re sharing some tips on how to succeed in a no-buy month.
The calendar flips over to a new year and everyone starts planning to be their best selves. There’s no judgment here. I also believe that a new month means that I can eliminate all of my old spending habits.
Every year on December 26th I wake up in a panic as we have spent the last several months in a state of excess. I usually get up super early, pay off our credit card, and then plan out our budget for the rest of the year.
Then I march into the new year with a feeling of power. We’re going to add to our savings! I’m not going to overspend on vacation! We’re going to talk about money, and if we can afford things, and not be ashamed to say “Sorry, but that’s not in the budget for us.”
What is a No Spend Month?
A no-spend month means you’re not buying anything beyond essentials.
January is a great month to try a no-spend challenge because it is a great way to reframe your thinking about what you need as well as becoming super aware of what you’re spending money on.
Tips for Successful No-Buy Month
Ask Yourself Why You’re Doing this Challenge
Here are a few reasons why you might challenge yourself to a no-spend month.
- You will save money for something special
- Get your spending habits under control
- Eliminate impulse shopping, either in person or online
- Lower personal stress
Decide on the Rules for Your No Spend Month
You make the rules.
- Will you spend any non-essential money?
- Are you allowed to use gift cards you already have on hand?
- Are there birthdays or other special events during your no spend month that you need to plan for?
There will never be a month free from expenses. Be realistic in setting your goals. It is supposed to be a challenge, but set yourself up for success.
How to Curb the Urge to Spend in a No Spend Month
Impulse shopping can ruin your challenge.
- Delete or hide shopping apps from your phone (Amazon, Target, Instacart, DoorDash, Postmates). Nothing is forever but the added step of downloading an app after it’s been deleted might stop you from an impulse purchase.
- Unsubscribe from promotional emails. Do you need to know about the Old Navy sale every single day? It might be too tempting. Use a service like Unroll.me to quickly move all of these emails out of your inbox.
Stay Motivated to Succeed on Your No Buy Challenge
Staying motivated during a no-buy month will be hard. When you’re too tired to make dinner and want to order food in, or you’re convinced you must shop all the holiday sales. Here’s how you can stay focused.
- Remember your reason why.
- Find a no-spend buddy. Having an accountability partner will help you stay on track. Whether it’s someone on-call to listen to read your texts about how much this sucks or someone to share your daily success with. Everything is more fun with a friend.
- Cash is king. I know we’re all dependent on cards, apps, and Venmo these days but using cash as a strategy in sticking to your budget is a system that works.
- Create a budget for any non-essential items for the month and withdraw that amount in cash. When it’s gone, it’s gone. This is a visual way to see what you’re spending rather than pretending like $20 credit card swipes don’t really count.
- Visually track your progress. Give yourself a gold star, a pat on the back, or whatever it takes to celebrate your wins.
How to Avoid Defaulting to Take Out for Dinner
Wendy is notorious for overspending each month using DoorDash. Here are some ideas on how to avoid blowing your challenge buy ordering take out dinner.
- Meal planning. If you have a plan for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you’re much less likely to order a last minute pizza.
- Grocery pickup (or delivery, if delivery is free) is a great way to keep impulse purchases from happening. You will have a chance to review your total before placing your order allowing you to remove anything from the cart that puts you over budget.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun!
- Don’t completely deprive yourself. It’s easy to get frustrated and think that you can’t do anything fun all month, but really it’s time to get creative. Invite a friend over for coffee and muffins that you’ve baked, rather than meeting for breakfast. Stream a movie and make popcorn at home.
- Shop your stash. If you’re not a naturally organized person, which I admit that I am not, sometimes your home is a host of hidden treasures. If I clean out my closet or my bathroom drawers I’m likely to find things I didn’t know I owned. Maybe there’s a stash of sheet masks or an unopened lip gloss hiding in a drawer. BOOM. New stuff without shopping.
- Embrace the library. Okay, this is a very specific form of not-shopping, but heading to the library and bringing home a stack of books scratches the itch of needing to buy something. As a bonus, you’re not increasing clutter because the books will need to be returned.
Not Spending is a Mental Game
- Reframe your thinking. It is very easy to fall into a negative place during a no-buy month. Rather, think about the money you’re saving, the money that will be there in case of an emergency, or perhaps to help fund a vacation or big purchase that you’re saving for.
- Accept the challenge. We hope these tips will make it easier to get a handle on your budget, but we also know that this is a challenge. There will be parts that are harder than others. There will likely be a point at which you will whine about not wanting to make lunch at home. Think through to how great you’ll feel at the end of the challenge when you’ve succeeded in your goals and possibly broken some previous habits.
We’re Your New Best Friends
Hi, we’re Megan and Wendy! Join us every Wednesday for “Approved with Megan and Wendy” – the podcast where we ask each other every week what we’re currently using and loving. Don’t waste any more time or money on products that don’t live up to their promises.
You can also find us on “Girls Gone Hallmark” on Tuesdays and Thursdays where we review new and fan-favorite Hallmark movies and ask the question: Did you see that?
Long Story Short with Megan and Wendy continues on Patreon! New episodes, four times a month, where we cover everyday life, pop culture, and more!