What is a Spending Freeze and why it’s good for your budget:
Every once in awhile, our family does a Spending Freeze. January or February is a good month to do it, and August and September are also smart months to have one. Usually things are slowed down enough that the big month purchases and spending(March, April, May, June, July, October, November, December)have already happened.
A spending Freeze is when you only spend money on Mortgage/Rent, utilities and bills, gas for your car and food (grocery, not going out to eat). And you refrain from all other forms of spending. You take a break from shopping for clothes/home decor, etc, going out to eat or having coffee, you eat simply (freezer meals!!!) and you limit activities to those that are free.
You would be so surprised at the amount of money left over!
So what next?
Dump all that leftover money (or if you are paycheck to paycheck, whatever is left) onto your Debt or stick it into savings!
You will find it so helpful to learn how to track your spending habits and develop better ones, how to budget and stick to it, and you get to see the magic of debt disappear quickly or savings add up quickly. Yes, it’s not easy. It’s a teaching time for everyone involved. My child doesn’t deserve a cookie whenever we go out. I don’t deserve to go online shopping for another cute dress or shoes.
We’re learning to be grateful for the fact that God DOES meet our needs and in abundance. And by having a spending freeze, it grounds us back to needs versus wants. it helps us in our gratitude, but also in our responsibility and self control.
Here are some tips for helping your “no-spend” month go smoothly:
- Before you go shopping for food, shop from your pantry, fridge and freezer. Get creative! Google the ingredients you have and see what comes up.
- Meal plan, meal plan, meal plan! On Sunday night, plan out the weeks meals. Be organized about it. This deters the panic on Wednesday night, the laziness of not wanting to cook and the guilt after the unplanned trip to Burger King.
- Make weekly date nights at home! (this will also be a future post!)
- Popcorn, red vines and an old movie (maybe even one you both loved from high school)
- Grown up campfire, star gazing and s’mores! (we like to get gourmet and add sea salt dark chocolate and a slab of bacon. Don’t judge me)
- Sunset walk (pick flowers, take photos, and talk)
- Read a book together. Be your own book club.
- take turns introducing each other to new music you like.
- And when it doubt, binge watch a comedy and drink wine and be merry with the spouse of your youth!
- Take advantage of freebies! Our local library has an upcoming Harry Potter birthday party that my kids are freaking out about. It’s free! We go to a community pool that is donation only when we want to go swimming. Look for concerts in the park, or free art festivals, sometimes museums have free days, (I miss Phoenix and their children’s museum so much!!!) Sometimes restaurants have tastings, Safety fairs give out helmets. Do your research! Facebook is loaded with local events and information.
- Be honest when you say no. When all the girls want to meet up for a girls night out at your favorite restaurant, be honest with them. There is no shame in saving money, but you may be able to host something at your house with a few goodies instead. When your son begs you for a Lego set from Walmart, you can explain to him that he has dozens of Lego sets at home he can come up with alternative sets. (adding to that: you can find just about any Lego instruction online and chances are, your son already has the pieces for it!)
- Get creative! Go on walks, ride bikes, paint with watercolors, press flowers into books, read stories by candle light (save on Electricity!), be together and be present. No amount of money can replace that. Do something priceless and enjoy one another!
Our family is doing a Spending Freeze for August. Hope this encourages you to do one with your family!
the Hygge Homemaker