If you’re like most of the people in the country, this holiday season, you may have eaten and bought too much despite your best intentions.
The holidays are a time of excess, even if you try hard to avoid it.
Many people find January or February an ideal time to cut back and restore balance in their lives.
One perfect way to do this is to have a no spend month or a spending freeze.
How To Have A No Spend Month
To have a successful no spend month, you must determine your own parameters.
For instance, some people say for all 31 days in January, they won’t buy anything “extra.” That means not eating out, not going to the movies, not purchasing ice cream when grocery shopping, and not making any impulse buys.
I’ll be honest, when my kids were very little, I had one no spend month a year, and I found that month to be very difficult.
I was successful, but it was a challenging month, and I started dreading no-spend months.
If you feel that an austere month is not going to work for you, there are other ways that you can curb your expenses in January or February and still successfully bring balance back into your life.
Groceries – Buy Only What You Need
Take an inventory of what you already have in your refrigerator, pantry, and freezer. Chances are, you likely already have food to make several meals without stepping foot in the grocery store. This month, just buy what you need to round out the food that you already have in the house. Shop the pantry first.
When you do go to the store, buy essentials but no luxuries. Buy a whole head of broccoli instead of buying it already cut up, buy the cheaper cuts of meat like chicken thighs instead of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and don’t buy any treats like cookies or chocolate.
Another way you can reduce your grocery bill this month is by eating the appropriate portion size rather than the larger portion sizes that many Americans are accustomed to.
Finally, decide how much you want to save on groceries this month. Maybe you normally spend $700 on groceries; for this month only, perhaps you’ll try to spend just $400. At the end of January, you’ll have a pantry cleared of odds and ends, and you’ll have extra money going forward in the new year.
Gas – Make An Effort To Drive Less
To save money on gas, make a conscious effort to bunch your appointments together so you’re not making long drives over several days running little errands, but over one day, getting all of the errands done at once.
If you don’t have something you need at home, don’t run right out and get it. See if you can wait and do without, borrow from a neighbor, or use a substitution.
Entertainment – Find Free Ways To Enjoy Your Free Time
Again, decide this month if you’ll forego all entertainment that costs money or if you instead want to spend less than you normally spend.
Remember that you can check the Internet for free things to do in your town, and that you can rent movies from the library.
Many libraries also have free museum passes, so that could be a way to be entertained without spending money.
I find the cold winter months of January and/or February to be the perfect months to scale back and restore balance to my life. One way to do that is to be more mindful of how I spend money and to use what I already have.
If you can’t have a no spend month in January, February is also a great month, plus it’s three days shorter than January.
How do you restore balance after the holidays? Do you have a no spend month or a pantry challenge?