Monday, May 5, 2014

No Pay May

A bouquet made for a friend out of branches from my snowball tree and  crimson clover (a cover crop).

It may be Cinco de Mayo today, but around my house the event for May is a "spending fast" or as we are calling it, "No Pay May."

What is the purpose of a spending fast?

 1) To reign in unnecessary spending

2) Reassess budgets

3) Save aggressively

Spending fasts are extremely helpful and rewarding both monetarily and otherwise.  They call us to be accountable, aware, and stretch our finances creatively. There is less running to the store, and more creating at home. 

The Rules:

You can set up your "no spend" rules however you see fit, but it's important to stick to what can be boiled down to two simple rules.

1) Only spend money on necessary items.

2) Don't spend money on anything else.

The flexibility is in how you define "necessary," and this of course might change over time. 

For me the goal will be no spending on anything other than food at the grocery store, bills, and any medical expenses.

Helpful tips: 

1) Make a budget: Where do you want to save? Putting the intention down on paper - how much you want to spend on groceries for example, is extremely powerful in keeping you aware and on task. Some people use cash only to achieve this (I am not one of those people at this time).

2) Organize/ clear clutter: This will help you find items you thought you would need to buy. Focus on kitchen and bathroom closets/cabinets to get rid of stuff you can't use and find stuff you will use!

3) Write things down: Keep track of what comes up that you feel like you need or want. You can also keep track of feelings that come up from not spending. Does it make you feel bad when you "can't" buy something? Or good that you are being financially responsible? The "happiness" (in quotes because it's not actual happiness) we get from shopping is fleeting. The weight lifted from financial responsibility and security is far more powerful.

Spending fasts are an exercise in simplicity. We travel less, use what we have and get creative.  Spending fasts are often easier and more successful when well-prepared (fully stocked kitchen, a gift cupboard, etc.).

Doing intermittent monthly spending fasts regularly will help you to reign in your spending, help you save for emergencies, and can actually be kind of fun - like a game!  It's always good to exercise our frugal muscles even during times when there is plenty of money around - because at some point, it may not.

I'll report back at the end of the month and share how I did!

Have you ever done a "no spend month?" Were you successful? What are your tips for a rewarding spending fast?