How to Do a No Spend Month

Image showing a white piggy bank and a woman in a yellow shirt adding a coin to the piggy bank.

It’s No Spend February! Traditionally once a year our family takes a month to evaluate our spending patterns and consumer behaviors. Sometimes this takes place in January, other times in February.

We specifically choose the winter months because we are already spending more time at home. Taking a month’s break to purposely evaluate what we want, what we need and what we can wait to purchase gives us space to make use of what we have and save money for the things we want.

Over the years, we’ve learned as a family and as individuals that sometimes we think we really want or need something in the moment only to realize: we don’t really need it, we have something at home that can be repurposed to achieve the same result or help us decide what we really need, we can wait and we can and should price compare.

The following are the “rules” we used to give us structure for the month.

We can spend money on necessities, such as:

  • gasoline
  • groceries
  • rent or mortgage
  • utilities
  • insurance (car, home, etc.)
  • childcare
  • other fixed expenses (for us this is Netflix, Roku and iTunes)
  • presents for those outside of our family

We avoid spending money on:

  • dining out (lunches or dinner)
  • clothes shopping
  • trips to the movie theater, amusement park, museums, etc.
  • coffee shops (see dining out)
  • Amazon purchases (we do make heavy use of the save for later feature)

The rules have also evolved over the years to become dependent on the month and allow for oddities such as an unexpected car repair or celebration. As three important events occur for our family in February, we plan ahead or use gift certificates if the No Spend month will be in February.

For us, a no spend month boils down to: is this a want or a need.

If it is a need, then that’s the end of it. If it is a want, then we wait and if it is something we can live without for the month, we reevaluate if it is something that can wait longer.

One of the best things that happens this month is we get to really evaluate how we use our resources in both time and finances. We have conversations about our home and what our next big and small projects should be.

We also use the time to declutter and go through what we already have. We donate items, sell items and  enjoy the less cluttered space.

If you’ve never taken a break from spending and focused on what you spend, where and why, you should consider taking a break if not for a whole month for a few days or weeks.

I expect if you do, you will be as surprised as I always am at how much money you save and the clarity of what are wants and needs for us.

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