Seeing as we are coming to the end of our 2nd No Spend month in the last four months, I thought it would be interesting to list the ways I have found to NOT spend money. This is especially relevant when you have money is the bank and have your self control is wearing thin. (Yes, that is where I am at right now, but I am standing firm.)
These are little tricks I’ve used when I’ve been tempted to grab an easy meal out, hit up the local Walmart for some random item or just disappear from home for a couple of hours and hide in a dark theatre with some yummy popcorn.
- Don’t carry cash. Kind of the like “build it and they will come” from Field of Dreams, if you have it in your pocket, it will start to burn. I keep a $10 bill in my wallet for “emergencies” but otherwise do not keep cash on hand when I’m in a “no spend mode.”
- Have some easy meals and snacks on hand. My greatest temptation is food. When I’m tired and don’t want to cook. When I don’t have something easy to make. Or when the kids are hungry NOW and all the food I have on hand requires some prep. I’ve learned that keeping some hamburgers, hot dogs and sandwich on hand is a great way to deal with this temptation.
- Don’t carry your cards. Now I have to preempt this with, I am a planner. And living in this tiny town, I am never more than 10 miles from home and normally no further than a mile. So if something happened while I was out, I could easily get home to get access to more money. When I go further from home, I take my full wallet. But not having plastic on me, helps prevent those impulse buys especially when my will power is waning.
- Make a plan. I use Asana and Google Calendar to plan my life. I even have a separate project set up for meal plans in Asana and then its integrated with my Google Calendar so when I look at my day it not only includes all my appointments and To Do lists for work, but also the meal I am cooking for dinner that night. Having these check lists and daily plans keeps me from wavering and on task.
- Become a member. Depending on where you live, there are a lot of membership opportunities that give you access to all sorts of fun stuff for free – museums, national parks, dog parks and even libraries. When the kids were younger, I joined a “museum club” for lack of a better word which let us visit all the various museums and parks around for a very nominal yearly fee. We went regularly. And now the library is my favorite place – free books, free movies and tons of events each week.
- Go to church. Okay, I’m not trying to convert you. But many of the churches we have attended in the last few years have a free drink bar on Sunday mornings, some feed you (or just the kids breakfast) and many even still have a full meal during the week. Our current church provides donuts and drinks after the first service and then breakfast sandwiches to the kids (high school and college.) And they have a Wednesday meal if you attend that service. Not only can you get fed spiritually, plug into your community, but you can also get fed a meal.
- Take up hiking (or just walking.) We are blessed to list within a mile of some gorgeous trails, waterfalls, mountains and so on. So hiking is big around here. Really big. But even if you live in a big city, get out and take a walk. The kids and my favorite thing to do when we visit a big city or even back in Williamsburg was go walking in the middle of the night. Downtown was quiet, the street lights were on and traffic was pretty much non-existent. Those times are some of my fondest memories, there is just something about the “ghost” town feel.
These are just a few of the things that have helped keep me sane during our No Spend Months. And you know what. These months have been life changing for me in so many ways. Keep me focused. Help me feel better about my financial mess that I am digging out. And most importantly helping me dig a little faster to get back to solid ground!
Do you have any tips to share to help control your spending?