Can you live a ‘no spend’ year?

A Simple Guide To Having A No-Spend Year

Guest post from Jenni McGee

The year 2020 is almost here, and people are making plans to improve their finances for the new year. While some look for ways to earn some extra income, others find that changing their spending habits, such as by embarking on a no-spend year, may be the smarter way to turn their finances around. With about 16 million people in the UK having under £100 in their savings account, it’s understandable that the British are anxious about their money habits and looking to make a change for the better.

Often starting out as a personal challenge, the no-spend year soon evolves into a lifelong habit for the people who have found satisfaction in this minimalist way of living. By just paying for the necessities and cutting out spending on items that aren’t essential, we are able to learn what’s truly important and how we can live without things we previously thought were necessary. Here’s how you can enjoy the things that you have, and start living a no-spend year.

Plan it out

Before starting, sit down and make a list of the things that you have to spend on, as well as the items that you can do without. For instance, your rent or mortgage, utilities, food, children’s tuition fees and medication can be categorised as necessities, while gadgets, clothes, makeup, weekly meals at fast food restaurants and the like can be the things that you don’t have to spend on for a whole year. If you’re doing the challenge with a friend, avoid comparing lists, as the things that are considered necessities can vary from person to person. For example, your gym membership, which may be important in your weight loss journey, may seem like a frivolous expense to another person, so determine the things that you absolutely cannot do without so you’re bound to stick to the challenge throughout the year.

Make use of what you have

Being frugal doesn’t mean that you have to stop thinking of others while you’re on your no-spend challenge. Whether it’s possessions, skills or time, make use of what you have so you can continue to give while living a no-spend year. For instance, if you’re a skilled sewer, instead of donating money, you can copy what many fashion companies are doing, and help kids to thrive by providing free workshops to teach them to make their own clothes, or donate extra sewing materials to shelters that need these items. You can also start a mentorship program so you can help other people develop their skills to find jobs. Remember that giving is not always about donating money – it’s about sharing what you know and what you have to improve the lives of others.

Set a realistic goal and do something to achieve it

Setting small and realistic spending goals can help you stick to a no-spend challenge. For instance, maybe you want to reduce your spending on your caffeine habit. Instead of buying your coffee from the Starbucks across the street, make it yourself at home and take it to work in an insulated mug or thermos. You’ll be surprised at how much you can save on coffee in a year – a recent poll revealed that British people spend about £303 on coffee per year, so instead of spending that on lattes or cappuccinos, you can use that money to pad your savings account instead.

It’s perfectly fine to say no

Being committed to paying only for essential items means having to say no to a lot of things. That includes saying no to drinks with friends at the pub, or stopping yourself from browsing online shopping sites for sales. It also means skipping lunches out with the people you work with, or not buying a birthday present for a new friend. Remember that it’s perfectly fine to say no. You can always ask your mates to spend time with you at home, and you can rely on your DIY skills so you can have something to give to friends. Don’t let anyone guilt you into spending money: it’s your financial future, after all.

Having a no-spend year can be a challenge, but it can be rewarding in so many ways. Not only do you get a healthier savings account, but you also discover the things that truly matter in your life. Start 2020 on the right track, and try this challenge to improve your finances.

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