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DIVING IN TO PERSONAL FINANCE
When I dipped my toes into the personal finance world, podcasts were (and still are) my favorite resource for learning. On an episode of Martinis and Your Money Shannon was chatting with Liz, the person behind one of my favorite blogs, The Frugalwoods.
While Liz was sharing her story she said something in the moment that was so profound to me:
“The less money you need to live, the less money you need to make.”
When it comes to financial health and wealth building, you can’t frugal your way to full financial wellness. I knew that, but never took the time to think about how much money I ACTUALLY NEED.
At this point in time, I was living paycheck to paycheck and budgeting on the go. Looking at my financial picture as a whole wasn’t something I took the time to do.
I was too anxious and let my finances happen to me rather than taking control.
In December 2019, I decided to book a warm-up call with The Financial Gym. I had been listening to Shannon’s podcast for months and absorbing every word. I needed to know how the gym could help me after learning so much for free via the podcast. You can read the whole story here and listen to my favorite MYAM episodes here!
THE NO-SPEND DAY
The ‘No-Spend’ day is something I heard mentioned on a few podcasts. After meeting with Sara, my financial trainer at the Financial Gym, part of the plan suggested 2-3 no-spend days per week. As a frugal and perpetually broke person, gamifying an entire day of not spending money seemed like a great tool to add to my belt. Make it fun!
The basics of a no-spend day are exactly what it sounds like. You set the intention to go through the entire day without spending any “unnecessary” money. Depending on your spending habits, this will look different for everyone. It can mean making coffee at home and bringing your lunch to work that day. It can mean cooking with what’s at home rather than take out. It’s your no-spend day, set boundaries that feel challenging but realistic for you. I've found many benefits to incorporating these days into my plan.
BENEFITS OF A ‘NO-SPEND’ DAY
OPPORTUNITY TO PRACTICE MINDFULNESS
For me, no-spend days are not about depriving myself or feeling bad, but about getting creative with what I have. It can be easy to fall into routines day after day that include small charges here and there. Over time, these can add up. no-spend days are an opportunity to interrupt those spending routines and get crafty.
SMALL SAVINGS ADD UP OVER TIME
If you wanted to save $10,000 in one year it would only take finding $28 each day to do so. As someone who lives in an expensive city, that stat blew my mind when I first read it. Spending $28 in one day is easy. That can easily be takeout for two.
If no-spend days are something you want to try or regularly fold into your week, I recommend dedicating a sinking funds envelope and depositing $5 - $10 dollars there each time you complete a day without spending any money. Watching that money grow over time can be motivating to continue these days or add one more.
Giving money you save a job will also keep you motivated! I usually use my no-spend cash to pay off a little debt, but plan to use it for other things (like traveling) once I'm debt free.
GET CREATIVE & USE WHAT IS ALREADY ON HAND
When I plan for a no-spend day, this includes utilizing the food that’s already in my house. This is one of my favorite parts of no-spend challenges. There is not a lot of storage space in my kitchen, but I tend to collect lots of staples regardless. In addition to my pantry staples, I get a bi-weekly produce box that I adore. On the days I commit to no takeout, it is an opportunity to use the food in my house. There’s nothing more satisfying than making room in my small cupboards, using up fresh produce, and cooking a delicious meal at home.
No-spend challenges are a fun way to practice mindfulness and get creative while saving money. While some people participate in entire no-spend weeks, months, or even years, trying one day a week is an excellent place to start.
My financial plan recommends 2-3 no-spend days per week, but I do enjoy an entire no-spend month. Making money management more fun has been a huge factor in staying motivated on this long financial journey.
Are no-spend days part of your plan? Have you ever tried a no-spend month? I’d love to hear about them or other ways you practice money mindfulness in the comments.