Writer: Roz Andrews
Just like no-meat Mondays, designating a no-spend day might lead to better things in your life.
No-spend days are days you spend no money at all. You don’t buy anything from a store, you don’t shop online, you take your lunch to work, and you don’t pick up a take-out meal for dinner.
Are no-spend days really a good way of saving money? Is it inevitable that you’ll save money if you have one, two or even three no-spend days every week or month?
Here’s a way to introduce no-spend days into your life and to make them part of your on-going savings strategy.
Set a Weekly Budget for Non-Essential Items
For no-spend days to work well, you need a maximum budget for all the nonessential items you buy every week.
This should cover all day-to-day expenses such as a coffee on your way to work, lunch in a café, newspapers and magazines, snacks on the way home from work, take-out meals, and so on.
Be realistic here. If you enjoy sipping a cappuccino on your way to work every day, include the cost of five cappuccinos in your weekly budget.
Necessary expenses, such as your rent or mortgage, weekly grocery shopping, and gas for your car, should be included in a separate budget of essential expenses.
Choose Your First No-Spend Day
Once you’ve decided on the maximum amount of money you can afford to spend on unnecessary items, introduce one no-spend day per week.
To make it easier to keep to your resolution, choose a day when you already spend less money than on other days.
For example, if you usually stay at home on Sundays, that day could be your first no-spend day.
Reduce Your Budget and Introduce a Second No-Spend Day
For the first few weeks, make sure you don’t spend any money at all on your no-spend day and keep to your budget for nonessential items in the rest of the week.
Once you find this easy to achieve, reduce your weekly budget for unnecessary items by at least 5 percent and introduce a second no-spend day.
Prepare in advance for that no-spend day by buying anything you’ll need before the day.
You may find a second no-spend day more challenging, so give yourself time to get used to your new weekly spending routine.
When Should You Introduce a Third No-Spend Day?
Once you feel comfortable with a lower budget and two no-spend days a week, you can reduce your budget again and introduce a third no-spend day.
Some people even like to have four or five no-spend days on workdays so they only spend money on weekends.
Be Realistic but Don’t Give Up!
Recognize there will be weeks when circumstances dictate you spend money on a no-spend day or that you exceed your weekly spending budget.
For example, you might decide to stop for a snack, drink, and a break after being stuck in a traffic jam for two hours on your way home on a no-spend day. When such things happen, don’t give up on your no-spend days and weekly budgeting. Chalk the extra expenses up to experience. Sometimes life gets in the way, despite good intentions.
Start each new week with a renewed effort to keep to your budget and no-spend days.
Use No-Spend Days as Part of Your Overall Savings Strategy
No-spend days and weekly budgeting for unnecessary expenses should not be the sole foundation of your savings efforts. The best way to save money is to transfer a percentage of your income into your savings account on payday each month. Think of it as investing in yourself. Then, try to save more money through no-spend days. At the same time, reduce weekly expenditure on non-essential items gradually.
Set targets for the extra money you’ll save. At the end of each week, transfer any money you haven’t spent into your savings account.
No-spend days won’t save you money by themselves. If you have one no-spend day per week and then overcompensate by spending more than usual on the other six days of the week, you won’t save any money. However, if no-spend days are integrated into your overall savings strategy, they will help your savings grow more quickly.