Over the holidays, it's easy to go over budget on gifts, food, family outings, travel expenses, and more. Honestly, the list really never ends. That's why a lot of people participate in something called no-spend January, in order to save back some of the over-budget money spent over the last month or two. With Black Friday, Christmas, and end of the year sales hitting you hard, you might also be wondering how to plan no-spend January to give your bank account a bit of reprieve. Luckily, as hard as it may sound, it's actually pretty doable for anyone who needs to replenish their bank account.
To participate in no-spend January, the biggest rule is you have to be prepared ahead of time. Additionally, financial advisor Kristin Larson shared that it's possible you'll have to budget for things like gas, utilities, or groceries during your no-spend month too, and that's OK. You can still make it work around the unavoidable necessities. The main goal here is to stop spending extra, recuperate from the holiday season, and completely eliminate spending outside of what you absolutely need. And no that doesn't include the coffee from Starbucks on the way to the kids' basketball game. It also doesn't include the dollar section at Target, as necessary as those adorable stickies or organizing containers might seem to us all.
Even if you set a strict budget for yourself over the holidays, it still probably means you're spending more than you're used to in a single month. And honestly, props to you if you didn't blow through the budget entirely. Just as people oftentimes turn to the new year, especially the first month, to cut back on all the ways they indulged food and drink-wise over the holidays, many people feel that they've overindulged financially, too. So it's not surprising that a month of no-spending may sound appealing if your wallet is hurtin' from all the partying it's been doing the past few weeks.
So how exactly do you participate in a no-spend month?
Start by tackling the expenses you can't get rid of, according to Student Loan Hero. Things like your rent, utilities, groceries, and gas aren't avoidable, but you can come up with a plan to cut back on them. If you go to your utilities' websites, they often offer tips for saving — like cutting back on the energy you use each month. Make a goal to cut utilities, groceries, gas, and other must-have bills down for the month of January. Carpool to work or the kids' activities, find frugal meals and grocery lists somewhere like Pinterest, and use appliances, heat, lights, or other energy-sucking items less throughout the month.
Now that you've tackled the items you can't ignore financially, work on preparing for not spending on anything else throughout the month. Things like going out, grabbing fast food, late-night Amazon purchases, and anything else you can survive without are absolutely off limits. Instead of buying a coffee out, make one at home. If you're craving your favorite drink or meal at a restaurant, find a recipe for it and make it yourself. And unfortunately, no-spend January also means you'll have to say "no" to some events or outings you may otherwise splurge on. As hard as it may seem, tightening the wallet strings is totally worth it at the end of 31 days and when your bank account is smiling back at you come February 1, you won't remember having to make any sacrifices at all.
Lastly, focus on things you can do for free, because your family should still be able to enjoy themselves. Head to the library (because there's a ton of things to do there), find free events in your city to take the kids to, and have friends or family over to your home (or go over to theirs) to enjoy their company instead of going out to spend money.
At the end of the month, the results of a financial detox help reset your mind to go into the rest of the new year. Not only can you gain back some of the over-budget money spent over the holidays, but you can also practice being more conscious moving forward. And who knows, you could even find a few tricks that carry over into the months to come and help you to continue saving throughout the year.
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