Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Take the Spending Freeze Challenge

It seems like every December, after Christmas I declare that January is a "no-spend" month.  Christmas, no matter how much we try to cut back, always adds extra expenses.  But no one generally jumps up and down in excitement when they decide they need to do a spending freeze.

Why would anyone want to challenge themselves to do a spending freeze?  Well, it not only can help you save money, it can help you track and get a handle of where your money is going, how much you are spending on "extras", and also it can help you work towards your financial goals, whether it be to pay down some debt, save for a trip, or make an emergency fund.  

We started our freeze after the first week of January, and already I have found 200 extra dollars to pay towards some debt, and some extra money for a much needed oil change for one of our vehicles.  On top of that, this month I have not stressed about not having enough money, and that is WITH us down one pay cheque in the first week of January due to my husband's work holidays, but had not accrued enough holiday pay as he just started at his place of work last Summer.

And just so we can make sure you have the facts here, so that you see that a spending freeze can help ANYONE, let's just be clear - we don't make a ton of money.  My hard working husband is a first year carpenter apprentice.  The early stages of a new career.  Yet, somehow, we still have managed to find extra money by just NOT SPENDING.

Here's how you can make a spending freeze more tolerable.  Heck, you may even have some moments you actually full out enjoy. ;)

1.  Pick the right time for a spending freeze.  My family likes to spend warmer days out and about, doing things that make it easier to spend a little here and there.  If we were doing a spending freeze in the Summer it would be very difficult.  January, February, and March are really good times for us because not only has Christmas depleted us financially, but emotionally as well.  We are more than happy to stay inside in the coldest months of the year. 

2.  Stay out of the stores, stay off the shopping sites.  Seriously.  Don't just go in to "browse".  You don't need that kind of temptation in your life.  The less you are in the stores, the better.  For me, right now my stores I visit are pretty much narrowed down to grocery stores.  

3. Say no to situations where you know you might spend money.  All those invites to those home sale parties?  Just say no for now.  The girls want to go out to eat?  Just say no, and then cry a little.  I know, it doesn't seem fair, and you are itching for a night away, but it's temporary.  Next month (or whenever you decide to end the spending freeze) you can go out with the girls again.   

4. Find ways to socialize that don't involve spending money.  Invite your friends over to your house for some coffee, tea, and baked goods.  Or if you are like me right now, you are so thankful to one of your friends who planned a girls night at her house that only involves the cost of bringing your own wine which is optional - and yes, ladies, as hard as it is for me to say this, wine IS optional.  I will not be bringing it to this girls night.  Water it is for me.  

5. Think of intentional activities at home.  I have three young kids who can get cabin fever pretty quickly.  and that gives ME cabin fever.  But I find if I plan fun things to do at home, like play board games, have a movie night, cuddle up and read Narnia, or teach them how to cook or crochet, we all end up enjoying our time together, and don't have to spend a dime!  Not even gas money!!!  During the week I have made mental lists of things to do with the kids on the weekend.

Hot Chocolate at home with my boy instead of going out for treats allows some one on one time that fits right into a spending freeze!

6.  Decide what IS and ISN'T a necessity.  A spending freeze still allows you to spend money on the basics because, well, you gotta live!  So decide what is and isn't a necessity.  No, those cans of paint on sale at Home Depot are NOT a necessity - your dining room can wait one more month before it gets a fresh coat of paint. ;) (okay, so I may be saying this to myself....)

A spending freeze can be tough, especially when there are so many beautiful things to buy, delicious restaurants to try, and interesting places to go.  But I promise you, it will be worth it.  Remind yourself daily of your goals in doing this, and remember that it is only temporary.  Yes,most want to spend less in the future as a whole but you won't always have to say no to that Starbucks latte - you will just discover how to enjoy it as a treat, and not a daily event!

So how about it?  Will you commit to doing a spending freeze challenge?

Peace & Love. ;)

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