Thursday, July 1, 2010

4 Tips on How to Have a "No Spend" Month

The 4th of July...that time when America celebrates its independence. I think many times we don't appreciate this specific holiday enough.

So in honor of appreciating freedom, we've decided to make July the No Spend Month for the year. We've already put this into practice one week a month by designating the last week as No Spend Week, but thought it would be a great idea to take it for an entire month! During this time no funds are spent, with gas and living expenses (rent, electricity, phone, etc) being the only exceptions. Food is covered due to meal planning and keeping a stocked pantry.

Some have asked, how in the world do you not spend anything for a week, much less an entire month? If anything pops up that requires money, well then, it's time to get creative (:

We usually plan ahead for times of celebration and making gifts is preferred. Plus handmade gifts give something from the heart. I'll have to talk more about the Gift Closet on another day...a great concept my Grandmother started that encourages abundant thinking.

Most of our celebrations are decorated with natural elements from outside and items collected over the years. It's so freeing to leave behind those days of running around in a tizzy to buy just the right items to create the perfect dinner party. Now our focus is more about getting together to build relationships and enjoying the company of others instead of trying to impress guests with the linens, plates, decor or food. Don't get me wrong, I love a good party! Entertaining is a passion and a great design is wonderful, but people are more important (:

This has been a great lesson on freeing ourselves from debt and materialism, which allows the gift of embracing life on a much deeper level. It's also helped to cut out impulse buying. I have a hard time with this when approaching any Lowe's, Home Depot or great antique shop (: Creativity goes into overdrive and my mind begins to flood with ideas of new project possibilities!

During our No Spend Month I'll have to lift the ban on food spending since most fresh veggies don't keep for a month, but I'm excited to see how things go. I encourage you to give it a try. Think about it...that's a savings of spending on 4 weeks, plus 11 more if you decide to eliminate spending one week within each month! How much money could you save in almost 4 months? If you'd like to give it a go, here are some tips that have helped with our No Spending times...

1. Keep a stocked pantry and freezer. Making meals ahead and freezing them encourages eating at home instead of a trip through the drive thru. Keeping canned crushed/diced tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, noodles, spices, beef and grain bread on hand eliminates the need for a quick run to the store if unexpected company drops by. They're the perfect staples to throw together a great impromptu dinner party in minutes. Who doesn't love spaghetti (:

2. Buy/make gifts and cards ahead of time. Jot down a list of gifts and cards to be given for the year and keep it with you at all times. When you come across something that's on the list during regular shopping trips, it can be purchased ahead of time instead of waiting to the last minute. My mother had a great idea that works for her. She keeps a birthday card file with a folder for each month. In each folder there is a list of birthdays for that specific month, addresses, stamps and the cards she's collected over the year. Then on the first of the month she pulls the current folder, addresses the cards and sends them out! So simple and ensures no one is forgotten (:

3. Keep extra cards and gifts on hand for any occasion. Having extra simple gifts and cards on hand help to cover for those times when we can't plan. Maybe a new neighbor moves in next door, a friend at work has a death in the family, you're invited to a dinner party but there's no time to get a hostess gift, an unexpected guest shows up for the holidays, your child has a birthday party the next day and the invitation arrived the night before... By having gifts on hand that fit any occasion, you're always prepared when those little surprises pop up. I'll talk more later in another post about starting a Gift Closet.

4. Focus on free entertainment. Instead of spending money on entertainment, get creative and see what's available in your community. Many museums reserve one day a week when admission is free. Rather than going to a restaurant, take a picnic lunch to the park or lake. Cities are always having free festivals, concerts and events, especially in the summer and fall. Peruse the movie section at your local library. Check out your local CSA and get your hands dirty! It's a great learning experience for the kids and makes for an all-over-body workout (: If you don't already have one, borrow a canoe or kayak and head to the river or lake. Many culinary and designs schools offer free classes to the community. Check out your local whole foods store and see what free monthly events and workshops are offered. The options are endless! Just get creative (:

So if you'd like to begin saving money or paying down debt, try the No Spend week or month. You just might be surprised at the amount of money you can save!

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  1. I like the idea of a no spend month! (except food which I prefer to buy fresh weekly at the farmers market in summer.) It can't be this month for me cuz we are going on vacation at the end of the month. If i could do no spend between now and then I'd be doing great.
    Good luck.

  2. What an interesting post, loved it. You would really like my friends blog who is really into this concept,
    Oh and thank you for following and commenting on my blog it's wonderful to have you and I look forward to reading more of your posts :)
    Lots of Love XX

  3. Kathy, hope you have a wonderful time and safe travels on your vacation!!

    Laura, I stopped by your friend's blog and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. Thank you so much for suggesting it. I'll visit again often (:

  4. I am in! No spend month!!! love it!

  5. Michele, I love this idea! I am enjoying your blog. I am now a follower and have added your button to my sidebar. I look forward to stopping in again soon. Thanks for stopping by mine and becoming a follower.


  6. This sounds like a great idea! We are on the Dave Ramsey Plan and we're currently on the "Get out of Debt" step. This would be a great idea to find a little extra money every month!
    I plan on running it by the husband tonight :)

  7. Wow! You just gave me so much inspiration and made me feel better about myself in one post. I am impressed. Celebrating should not be about displaying the best "stuff". It's about enjoying people.

  8. Hey Vanessa, thanks for stopping by!!

    Jane, thank you so much for adding my button! I really enjoy your site and will be back often (:

    Jenny Lynn, I LOVE Dave Ramsey's philosophy and use it myself...I'm an envelope kinda girl (:

    Megan, I'm so glad you stopped're so right, it is about the people because the stuff is just...well, stuff! (:

  9. Hmmm - I think I would have to try it a week at a time :) A month without any extras. I know it could be done and boy would it cause me to be a little more creative.

  10. You go girl! As a recovering compulsive shopper, this will have to be one of my next goals for myself!! I love a challenge!

  11. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I love the no spend week/month idea. I love a challenge and wonder if I could do this...

  12. Michele, I saw you were a new follower so I thought I'd pop on over to see what your blog. Love it, by the way!
    Although I am good at making & doing things myself & sticking to a budget, I doubt I could do a no spend month! Life has been so crazy the past few months for our family (hs graduation+ party, getting our house ready to sell, etc. that I haven't been writing doing my written budget & I definitely need to get back to doing that!

  13. Loving your blog. You know, we used to have no spend weeks when we were broke. We'd empty the pantry and the deep freeze, get creative and save some dough. I am wondering if we could do it when it wasn't out of necessity? I think I'd like to try it...AND we also keep a gift "closet". OH! the joys! It makes things so much simpler, ESPECIALLY with those kids' birthday party gifts.

  14. Michele, I discovered you on Pinterest and I am so glad I did. I love your blog and I love your character! I can't wait to read more and more!


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