Let’s be honest, most of us LOVE to spend money. While I’m a pretty frugal person (just ask my wife!), when I see an Apple product or a new gadget, I start to drool! For Mrs AB and I, spending here and there on extravagant purchases isn’t a huge deal as we’ve got the income to pay for it. Even with our great income, we can’t buy everything we want, and I’d rather be financially independent sooner than have a new TV (although this one looks awesome). If you are the type of person who can’t leave your house (or go on the internet) without coming home with something new then this post was written just for you.
How To Stop Spending
There are more answers to this question than I could possibly tackle in this post, but if you’ve read the title – then you probably have a good idea of what I’m going to suggest. In order to reduce overspending you need to start somewhere, so it’s time to issue yourself (or you and your partner/friend/neighbor/stalker/etc) a challenge. The key is to make it small and work up from there. Here’s what I suggest:
- No spending for a day – just pick a day and challenge yourself not to spend anything. If it’s a workday and you normally go out for work, then pack your lunch. Don’t stop at Starbucks for that latte that you “have to have”, no grabbing drinks after work to unwind, etc. If you want to get bonus points for the challenge, every time you normally would have spent money, keep track of it and at the end of the challenge transfer the total amount to a designated savings account for something new/awesome/fun/your emergency fund/etc.
- No spending for a week – once you’ve perfected the art of no spending for a day, it’s time to dial it up a bit – and here’s where it gets difficult. It’s not that hard to eat leftovers and watch TV on a Tuesday, but how will you survive for an entire week without spending a dime??? I’ll be honest, this one will be tough, and I haven’t even attempted it before, but it could be worthwhile if you’re the type of person who really kicks it into high gear when faced with a big challenge. I mean, if you can survive for a week without spending anything, then just think of what else you can do in your life – the possibilities are (almost) endless!
- No spending for a month – yeah, this one is pretty crazy/extreme, I’ll admit it, but I think it could be done given the right circumstances. If you are a follower of Mustachianism, then hopefully you’re already living close enough to work so you won’t need to pay for gas. You can grow your own fruit/veggies in your garden and just put that along with frozen/canned food to sustain yourself. You can delay some other bills if you need to, but at the end of the day – it’s definitely possible… just not very pleasant!
What NOT To Do
If you’re going to commit to a no spending challenge, then please don’t do one of those “well, I’m just not going to spend any money on things that aren’t necessary” challenges. If you go down that road, you will end up rationalizing Starbucks as an emergency liquid to prevent dehydration, and McDonald’s as sustenance to keep you from becoming delirious. Trust me, when when you’re trying to break free of your overspending ways, you need to go cold turkey.
Who knows, you may end up enjoying living on less, and if you have any dreams of financial independence or early retirement – your future self will thank you! At any rate, good luck with your challenge, should you choose to accept one. To help you along the way, Jeffrey over at Saving Advice has put together a giveaway where you can win $100! The entry form is below and the more times you enter, the better your odds for winning! Maybe if you win the $100 you can allow yourself to spend that during your no spending month… NOT!!! (if you were tempted, just read “What NOT To Do” again)
Let me know what your spending challenge will be. I’m going to shoot for a day of no spending, so I’ll report back soon on my results! Actually, most of my days are no spending days, and my life is pretty good! But I’ll spend a day consciously not spending and let you know how I get on. Good luck!