Are you interested in a simple way to save a little extra cash that might even be enjoyable? Consider a spending freeze. Many money-saving tips merely tell you to cut back — or require a lot of work for a small amount of savings (coupon clipping, anyone?).
A spending freeze, on the other hand, is almost like a game. You can make it as easy or as challenging as you want. Here's how it works: You choose a period of time during which you'll commit to not spending any money. It could be a day, weekend, week, month — or more!
A no-spend period can help you find creative ways to have fun for free, appreciate what you already have and challenge yourself to see how long you can go without making a purchase.
Spending Freeze Benefits
In the world of money-saving tips, a spending freeze might sound a little unusual. However, there are many potential benefits to a no-spend period:
- Work toward long-term goals: What's the most obvious benefit of a spending freeze? Not spending any money helps free up more cash in your budget. You could then put these funds toward your long-term savings goals, such as retirement, homeownership and more. The more you're able to save during your spending freeze, the more you could put towards your financial goals.
- Build healthy savings habits: Much of what we do with our money comes down to habit. We may purchase more than we truly need just because that's what we're used to doing. A spending freeze, however, could force you to become more mindful of your spending. A no-spend period could help you build healthy long-term savings habits — which could last long after your freeze ends.
- Explore free options: You may not realize how many fun and free events there are in your area. You might fall in love with new activities, such as taking a long walk with a friend or having a board game night with loved ones. You may even enjoy these free options more than you enjoy your current go-tos for entertainment, such as going to the movies or having a night out on the town. A spending freeze can help you to think outside the box and try new things. It could also help you discover how to live well on less — without feeling deprived.
The Game Plan: Save Money
Are you convinced you want to give a spending freeze a try? First, determine how long you'll do a spending freeze. Then, plan out your days to help avoid unexpected expenses.
Putting a plan in place could help you get through your desired time period without spending a cent:
- Find a reason: Choose a reason why you want to do the freeze. A purpose can help you stay motivated throughout the process.
- Set rules: Set rules ahead of time, which will prevent the need to question yourself during the freeze. Are there any exceptions to your no-spend rule?
- Research events: Do some research about free events in your area. This could help you plan ahead for days or evenings out with friends or family.
- Schedule activities: Schedule free activities, such as hikes, walks, yoga at home, workouts at the gym, volunteering and so on. This way, you'll have plenty to do — which can help you avoid spending because you feel bored.
- Plan meals: Check your pantry to see your food options, and prepare a shopping list before your freeze starts to help ensure you won't need to spend money on food during your freeze.
- Avoid temptation: It may go without saying, but don't go window-shopping on a spending freeze!
You don't have to stop with a no-spend day or weekend. With some planning and creative thinking, you could think about pulling off longer — or even ongoing — spending freezes.
Consider incorporating freezes into your weekly routine: Try designating one day a week as a no-spend day, or try a spending freeze for a week or month anytime you feel the need to hit the financial reset button. A no-spend period could help you rein in out-of-control spending patterns. You could also apply the no-spend idea to shopping categories, such as clothing, entertainment or eating out, to keep the habits for an extended period of time.
You don't have to cut out all purchases forever. After all, everyone needs to pay things like rent, utilities and food. Whether it lasts a weekend — or an entire year — a spending freeze could help you save money, get in touch with what you truly value and make progress toward long-term financial goals.