The biggest shopping season of the year is just around the corner with just over five weeks until Thanksgiving.
Perhaps you’ve already been considering how you will pay for all the gifts for the holidays. Or maybe you have a trip coming up that you really need to save for. Or maybe you just need to build up some savings, period. I know we do.
Of course it would be great if we all had a substantial savings account when expenses rise, but research shows that is just not the reality. A Bankrate.com report shows that 61 percent of Americans do not even have $1,000 in their savings for emergencies, let alone for holiday expenses.
So if you’d like to save a good chunk of money relatively quickly, for the holidays or otherwise, do a no-spend month, or start smaller, and do a no-spend week. I’ve been reading about people who do this, and am considering trying it out soon.
Cut out all extra expenses
Obviously, a no-spend month isn’t really spending zero because you’re still spending money to pay for your essentials: bills, gas, groceries, etc. But you have to cut out everything else. Yes, everything else. No eating out, no coffee shop stops, no shopping, no entertainment outside the house.
Certainly, this is a tough thing for most of us to do. I don’t think we could do a month right at the start. It can definitely be something you build up to; start with a week, then later, do two weeks.
Consider when you might be more successful. We would be more likely to be successful in January or February when it’s too cold to want to do anything else, plus it’s just after most of my family’s birthdays.
Work with what you have
Perhaps you can cut out even more, like spending on groceries. I know I have enough in my freezers and pantry to not spend much money on groceries if I really tried and wasn’t being lazy about cooking lunch or dinner on some days. We’d be eating a lot of pasta, but we definitely wouldn’t starve.
Use the entertainment you have on hand, like watching DVDs you haven’t seen in awhile, or playing board games with the family. Get some things done on your to-do list at home to keep busy so you don’t get sucked into surfing the web and doing a little online shopping. Yes, in this case I really need to take my own advice: Amazon can be the enemy of savings for sure.
Evaluate what you’ve done
We are all usually pretty aware of how much our actual monthly bills cost us. They might only vary a little each month, but a lot of us tend to not pay enough attention to how much money we are needlessly spending. I am confident that if we try this for a month, we could easily save an additional $1,000 on top of what we try to save every month, which means we definitely blow a lot of money.
Is some of it necessary? Sure. Sometimes the kids really need new clothes for the season, or we have some expense like school pictures pop up. But most of the time? We just spend too much. Although I cut my costs by couponing or earn money back using apps so we have more money to have fun, I know I can do better.
Will something you just have to pay for in a no-spend month come up? Probably. But the key is to really try. Do whatever you can to cut out all those non-essential expenses. You might just be surprised at how much you save. Maybe it will be enough for you to realize that even if you do spend more other months, you can add more money to your savings account every month.