Have you ever found yourself broke at the end of the month, wondering where your money went?
Frivolous, emotional or spur of the moment spending can quickly eat away at your entire paycheck.
A No Spend Year might be the transformative experience you need.
I embarked on a No Spend Year in 2015 and it changed my life entirely!
My initial goal was simply to save money, which I did. Way more than I could have imagined! But the real advantage to the No Spend Year was how it completely transformed my relationship with money.
It broke my bad habits, made me realize I was in control of my finances and put me on the path to start building real wealth.
After years of being financially “stuck” the end of my No Spend Year marked the beginning of some serious wealth building.
Put frankly, it is without question a game changer for those of you who feel the pull of wanting to get your money in order but don´t know where to start.
What the heck is a No Spend Year anyway?
Simply put a No Spend Year means cutting out all unnecessary spending. There´s a whole lotta grey area there, so let´s break this down.
So, recurring, necessary expenses like rent, utilities, groceries, phone bill, gas money, charitable donations etc are all keepers.
The rest is up to you.
Most importantly remember you´re not doing this for anyone other than yourself. The goal is to improve YOUR financial situation so don´t worry about other people´s rules.
You answer to you.
For example, for me things like my gym membership, trips to the hairdresser, cinema and magazine subscriptions, clothes, make-up all got the chop. I wanted to take things down to the bare bones and see what things I couldn´t live without, knowing I can always put them back into my life after but this time with intention.
However, there were things I was not willing to sacrifice, such as a monthly meal with friends. So, I set myself a budget and realised I could still enjoy the evening just as much without alcohol and making simpler food choices.
Benefits of a No Spend Year
1. The Obvious One : You will save a ton of money!
Lets imagine cutting out a Saturday morning routine of coffee and a croissant and your favourite magazine at your local café. At roughly €10 a week this would save you €520 in a year!
Now imagine this weekly habit being carried out by a family of four at a weekly expense of around €35. Choosing to cut this activity could result in a yearly saving of €1,820!!!!!
I thought I was pretty frugal compared to others around me but on completing my No Spend Year I now look back in horror at how much money I was wasting.
It wasn´t so much the big ticket stuff but all the little impulse purchases. A hair product i used once, decorative items for the house, impulse bought food that went off in the fridge, snacks and snacks and snacks and snacks for the kids when we were out and about instead of leaving the house prepared.
To clarify, the ING International Survey on Savings 2016, which surveyed almost 15,000 people across 15 countries found that:
Only a quarter (26%) of people in Europe are comfortable with the amount they have available in savings.
Just under half (49%) of people in Europe have enough savings in place to cover three to six months of take-home pay.
Less than half (45%) do not have enough to cope with an emergency such as the car or home heating breaking down.
Think about this for a moment…
Almost half the population is one pay check away from a financial hot mess!!
But fear not! The good news is, the power is in your hands to quickly and radically turn your financial situation around.
2. You´ll help save the planet, not just your wallet!
Consumerism is not a path to joy or abundance for you or your planet.
Our current rate of consumption is unsustainable.
Have you heard of Earth Overshoot Day?
It marks the date when humanity´s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year.
In 2020 it fell on August 22!
I know right?
In taking part in a No Spend Year, even a No Spend Month, cutting out the crap and buying only mindful, necessary purchases you will contribute in the efforts to reduce landfill and #MoveTheDate.
Good for you!!!
To fully understand your lifestyle´s impact on the planet you can Calculate Your Footprint before and after completing your No Spend Year.
3. You´ll realize how lucky you are
There is inherent privilege in Googling “how to do a no spend year”. It means you have more than you need. That your daily essentials are covered and you´re looking for help in cutting out the excess.
The start of a No Spend Year can be challenging, adapting to saying no to those luxuries that we´ve become so used to.
I found as I progressed through my No Spend Year I stopped thinking about some of the things I used to buy. By the end of the year I felt an awareness that was never there before, like someone had lifted a veil and suddenly I could see all around me the marketing bombarding me with messages to buy utterly, useless crap I didn´t need.
I hadn´t notice before how much stuff I already had, clothes and beauty products, pointless home decor, a kitchen full of gadgets, sports equipment used once a year.
Which brings us to what is probably the most powerful and singularly important concept on your path to improving your financial and holistic Net Worth:
The hamster wheel of earning more then wanting more, earning more then wanting more can trap you forever if you don´t break the cycle.
While it´s proven than earning more does bring more happiness up to a certain point it´s probably fair to say that if you´ve gone looking for information on how to do a No Spend Year you´ve most probably long passed you-have-enough-town and are now happily speeding towards yous-about-to-crashville.
Give yourself a break and allow yourself the space to take in how far you´ve come and all the abundance you have.
Filling our wardrobes, calendars and minds with more than we need often brings more unhappiness than peace.
In fact, a No Spend Year is an opportunity to de-clutter all aspects of your life.
Clean out your home and sell or give to others things you don´t need.
Slowing down and evaluating if you really do need something before buying and realizing maybe you can reuse, repurpose or upcycle instead of buying new is hugely rewarding.
Your No Spend year will inevitable involve less driving and rushing around. Putting a pause on social events, maybe not accepting every opportunity to eat out but instead suggesting you meet that friend for a walk instead of a restaurant meal.
Ultimately our most precious resource is not money but time.
5. Earn more!
Having more free time during your No Spend Year means it´s a perfect opportunity to focus your energies on a Side Hustle!
Earning extra will super charge your savings and give you more motivation to continue on your challenge.
Some ideas to earn extra bucks:
6. Get your Money Mojo on
While a No Spend Week or Month can certainly help short term financial goals it´s the permanent change in mindset more than temporary changes in spending that will give you the potential to radically change your trajectory in life.
The ultimate benefit of a No Spend Year, the gift that keeps on giving is that it´s long enough to stop being something “you just need to get through” and start being the new normal, just the way you do things.
OK, let´s do this thing!
Now that your motivated to get started, read through the step-by-step guide below and then, what are you waiting for?
And save this pin for later so you can easily reference this post!
Step 1. Write down why you´re doing this
Whatever your motivation might be, write it down, short term and long term goals. To pull these out and refer to them in moments of temptation will help keep you on track and establish new, healthy money management habits.
Short term goals are those you want to be able to achieve on completion of your No Spend Year. Some examples might be:
- To pay off a credit card
- To cash flow your next holiday
- To build up an emergency fund
Long term goals are those you wish to keep reaping the benefits of after your No Spend Year. These might be:
- To break the cycle of consumer debt
- To start an investment portfolio and plan for retirement
- To establish sustainable habits that positively impact the environment
Step 2. Set your rules
Make a list of “allowed” and “not allowed” items. Remember you´re doing this for you so there´s no need to follow some bloggers personal list. Make your own rules that will work for you then save them to your phone for easy reference.
Step 3. Get on the same page as your spouse
If you´re embarking on a No Spend Year with your spouse you need to set your rules together, agreeing without judgement on each other´s “allowed” items.
That said, being in a relationship does not mean you have to carry out the No Spend Year together. When I did my No Spend year I did it alone, without my husband. He´s always been naturally frugal and it was something I wanted to do for me, to change my personal spending habits.
As I progressed throughout the year it did rub off on him and he reduced his spending even more.
Step 4. Share what you´re doing
Things can get real awkward real quick if the people around you don´t understand your sudden change of habits.
Being relaxed, honest and open with co-workers and friends about your goals will make it easier for them to support you not going for after work drinks or your offer to cook your friend a meal at home instead of going out to a restaurant.
If you have kids conversations with them explaining the benefits of reduced spending to your family and the environment will help deflect any feelings they´re being punished or deprived. Encourage them to ask questions and take part if they wish.
Step 5. Remove temptation
While the long term goal is to change your habits and reach a point of no longer desiring certain wasteful purchases, everyone needs a helping hand to get to that place.
- Remove apps from your phone of stores and brands you shop at.
- Bulk buy as much as possible to avoid unnecessary trips to the store.
- As you save money move it to another account that can´t be easily accessed.
- Unsubscribe from marketing emails.
- Hide or even better cut up your credit cards.
Step 6. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail
When the weekend comes round having already planned your day to a free park or museum with home made snacks prepared will make last minute splurges much easier to avoid.
Take the constant decision making out of your day by meal planning, organizing your free time and setting a budget for events.
Being a hermit for a year will not create lasting healthy habits. Birthdays, weddings and special events are there to be celebrated with the people you love.
The goal of a No Spend Year is not to avoid life but learn to navigate it mindfully, spending appropriately on the things that matter to you.
Step 7. Give yourself a break!
Things will go wrong, you´ll have moments or days of weakness.
When this happens you need to read back over your “why am I doing this?” list, even re-writing it if your priorities start to shift.
Most importantly remind yourself you´re taking a step most people never take, you´re doing something hard and you´re human. You might even be super human!
So when you stumble, give yourself a break and get back to it.