In this article, I’ll be sharing with you one of my budgeting secrets known as “no-spend days”, and they are literally days where you spend zero dollars. That doesn’t mean that you’re starving yourself, or you’re not using any of the utilities that you pay for on a recurring schedule. All it really means is that you need to plan around a little bit better so that on that actual day of your no-spending, you’re spending zero dollars.
When people find out that I do this, they usually think a few things. They probably think am dumb, they think it’s a waste of time, they think I should spend my time focusing on making money instead of saving money, they think I probably spend more money on the days surrounding the no-spend-days, or simply put, they just don’t understand the simple power of a habit when it comes to your financial situations.
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In this article, I’ll be laying out two different things and they are;
1. Why you should try “No-Spend Days”
2. How to do it in a sustainable way
Why you should try “No-Spend-Days”
This budgeting hack will help you kick-start your tracking of expenses. Apart from that, there are a lot of reasons why you may want to do this, especially if bad at tracking your budget or money. First I think it’s a great way to kick-start your discipline when it comes to saving. A lot of us are impulse shoppers, when we see things like flash sales, or maybe you’re through the checkout of the grocery store and you see candy and magazines, those are going to appeal to us a lot.
Another impulse buy or routine purchase that I see a lot of people doing is going to the coffee house every day and buying a latte. Planning a no-spend day really forces you to get creative, break the habits that you’re used to doing already, and also forces you to evaluate the purpose of your spending.
Secondly, when done correctly you can actually save a lot of money using the no-spend method. Let’s say you target five no-spend days a month, five divided by thirty is 16.67%. That means 16.67% of the month you’re actually not spending money. As long as you’re able to keep the rest of your days around the no-spend days, you’re going to save money. Am going to give you a detailed example of this later on.
Lastly, no-spend days are a really good way to double momentum when it comes to saving. It’s a good way to start that habit, and it’s one of the reasons I suggest it to beginners because it’s a manageable way to cut out your excess spending. Most people don’t love knowing how much they spend, having one of these no-spend days is one of the best ways to kind of dip your toes into tracking your expenses. You kind of get intimate with your own finances.
How To Execute
Now that we know the reasons why no-spend days are a good idea, let’s go into How you’re going to execute these no-spend days.
Decide on The Number Of Days
First, you’re going to decide on the number of no-spend days you’d like to have in a certain time period. Me, since I like to track my expenses on a monthly basis, I like to start at the beginning of the month. I target four to five no-spend days per month. That means that roughly one no-spend day a week and one extra day just to challenge me a little bit more. If you’re really bad with your money, maybe you can start with three no-spend days a month. That’s still low enough but it’s still doable enough so that you can still see a difference in the bottom line of your budget at the end of the month.
With this step, it’s really important to just spread out your no-spend days. You don’t want to stack all of your no-spend days at the beginning of the month. For example, the first five days of the month and then the remaining 25 days, you subsequently spend way more money. This kind of defeats the purpose of this exercise
By spreading out your no-spend days you’re actually building the right habit, which is to be self-disciplined and to actually look into your finances from time to time.
Plan Your Days
The second step is actually to plan your no-spend days based on what your schedule looks like. I personally know that I like to spend a little bit more money on the weekends, that’s usually when I have more free time and there’s a social aspect that comes into play. I personally like to plan my no-spend days during the week especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays, because I have a pre-existing hobby that I like to do and it really breaks down the day for me easily. As for me, I like to program with my computer from 4 p.m to 9 p.m.
Basically, it actually makes my Tuesdays and Thursdays a lot easier to plan around, because I know that I have that hobby, I just know that I have to get 4p.m that day without spending any money. That would be considered a no-spend day. Because am preoccupied with that activity, I know I’m probably not going to spend money.
This is one of the good hacks that you can do for planning your no-spend days. If you have existing habits, or you know you’re going to be busy on a certain day from a certain time, those are probably good opportunities for no-spend days.
For me at the beginning of the month, I mark down five different days where I don’t spend any money at all. Those are mostly Tuesdays for me but am going to make sure that no matter what, am going to plan around it and not spend any money on those days.
Make Sure There’s Enough Food
The next step is that we’re going to make sure that we have enough food. This should go without saying you don’t want to run out of food, or don’t want to go out for groceries on your no-spend days. What that means is, though you can stock up on groceries a few days before so that when it comes to your no-spend days you can just eat whatever you have at home.
I’ve always liked to be as prepared as possible, am always going through the kitchen to make sure that I have everything I need.
Keep Your Spending Under Control
The fourth step is to actually keep your spending leading up to your no-spend day and after the no-spend day relatively the same. Obviously, because you have a day where you’re not going to be spending any money, you’ll have this temptation to basically do some last-minute purchases before your no-spend day, like for example the night before. You want to resist this temptation and only focus on spending that’s actually necessary.
The biggest difference for me when it comes to no-spend days is just to plan my meals better, I make sure I’m not going out for coffee or making any impulse purchases on that day.
Reflect After a Month
The fifth step is to really check in with yourself after a month or so, however long you’ve been doing no-spend days. Make sure that your spending has not gone up as a result of your no-spend days. Try to keep track of your progress and be brutally honest with yourself. Did your no-spend days actually contribute to a decrease in spending? They actually should be based on the math, let’s see an example of why.
Let’s pretend that you target five no-spend days a month, for simplicity’s sake, let’s say on average you spend about $50 per day. That includes gas, groceries, utilities, etc. that’s about $1500 ($50 x 30 days) a month in discretionary expenses that you’re used to each month. But with this budgeting hack, you’re actually not going to be spending money on five of those days. So naturally, five out of 30, or 16.67% of the month, you’re not spending $50.
Your effective savings should be roughly $250 if you can keep the rest of your spending consistent. As long as you didn’t exceed $250 in additional spending on the days surrounding your no-spend days, then technically you’re in the green and you’re saving money overall.
Whatever your average spend per day is, times the number of no-spend-days in a month, that’s the wiggle room you have for your budget. It’s more of a mental budgeting hack than anything, and it’s a really good way to build that self-discipline, especially for those that spend a little bit too much money on things they don’t need.
Just To Add
To drive this point further, if you were to stick to five no-spend days a month for the entire year, well that’s two months or 60 days’ worth of no-spend days. If for some reason you get through a year of 60 days of no spending and your overall spend goes up, I would be completely shocked. That brings me to my sixth point.
Keep Your Standards
For me, once I’ve done something I know that I’m finally capable of it. If I’m able to hit five no-spend days a month, then the next month I know that I’ve done it before so hitting five no-spend days shouldn’t be an issue.
I’m going to try and keep that standard up, but does that mean am always going to hit five no-spend days a month? Not necessarily though. I mean life gets in the way, sometimes you do have to spend money on things, and sometimes emergencies come up. But overall if I have nothing else going on, I’m going to strive for five no-spend days a month.
This is what I’ve personally done to actually kick start my own expense tracking. Let me know in the comments if you guys give this method a try, I believe it’s going to help you save a lot of money. If you have any value from this content, don’t forget to share it with others. Subscribe to my newsletter to get the latest update from the blog. Click here to subscribe. Happy Hustling.
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