So, I was out of town for business and asked my colleague, Beth, founder of Bneato Bar, to meet for coffee. Beth replied that she would love to meet, but asked if we could take a walk instead of buying coffee or lunch, since she was on a one-year spending freeze. What? I had to know more.
Beth explained the basics to me and outlined some of the major benefits. In addition to saving gobs of money, a spending freeze can help you to clarify your core values, appreciate all that you already have, reduce your environmental footprint, and force you to get creative and resourceful. As we were talking, we were offered free ice cream from a neighborhood cafe that was switching out their flavors. Beth remarked that things like this happened to her all the time since starting her spending freeze. It seemed that her lack of spending had actually been making her life more abundant, creative, and interesting. I was instantly hooked.
One year seemed like too much for me to commit to – but one month felt like the perfect amount of time to give this experiment a go. Read on and join along for the adventure!
Clarify Your Motivation
As with any goal, it’s always helpful to clarify your WHY and make sure you like your reasons for doing something. My major motivations for trying a spending freeze were to reduce the amount of time and energy I spend on frivolous purchases, and to see how much money I can save just by being more mindful and creative. What are yours?
Separate Needs from Wants
The first order of business is to jot down all of your basic and necessary expenses. This may include rent or mortgage, utilities, phone and Internet, food and household supplies, prescriptions, etc. Make a list that includes all of your NEEDS. Next, make a new list of your WANTS. This list could include yoga classes or a gym membership, movie tickets, meals out, or anything else that makes your life enjoyable and comfortable. Now that you have a clear picture of your wants versus your needs you get to thoughtfully decide how you want to approach your spending freeze.
Define Your Rules
You get to define the parameters of your spending freeze. Some people opt to skip all extraneous purchases including coffee, snacks, and meals out for months, or even a full year. Anyone who knows me knows that those parameters would make me feel very, very sad. I decided that I will forgo buying any material objects that were not totally necessary, but that I could still invest money on food and experiences which enhance my life. Take some time to reflect on your values and decide what you want to invest in, and what you want to include in your spending freeze. Make sure your decision aligns with your core values and feels good. Write down your rules, and your timeframe, so you can stay on track. You’re in charge!
Plan Ahead + Get Creative
I’m doing my spending freeze in February. This month my plans include celebrating my husband’s birthday, Valentine’s Day, dinner with friends, and two children’s birthday parties. By creating a clear plan and budget for each event, I hope to eliminate impulse buys and overspending. I also plan to get creative and resourceful this month. For example, instead of paying for a babysitter and splurging on a pricey meal out, I can invite our friends over and cook a simple meal at our house. Instead of buying a gift for my daughter’s friend’s birthday, we can give her a coupon for a movie night at our house. You get the picture.
Keep a Spending Journal
You know how people keep a food journal when they’re trying to be more mindful of what they eat? The same holds true for your finances. By writing down items you spend money on, you will become much more aware of your spending habits. You can also use a notebook to write down all the things you want while you’re doing your freeze. I think it would be interesting to revisit the list in a month and see if you still want any of those things, or if the desire has waned.
So, who’s in? Who wants to join me for a February spending freeze? Anyone who has already tried this and can share helpful tips, please do! I’ll be back to share my experience soon and would love to hear about yours!