This month, I’m going to take control of my spending! Will you join me?
One way to take control of your spending is to go on a spending freeze or spending diet. Even if your spending isn’t out of control, it can be helpful to reevaluate your spending habits and save money at the same time. According to BankRate, families on a spending freeze can expect to save an average of $400 during a month of limited spending. That sounds like a pretty good average to me!
I pride myself on being frugal, but now and then my Amazon shopping habit gets a little out of control (do we really need 3 boxes of Pop-Tarts taking up space in our pantry?!?). To get back on the bandwagon, I decided to do a spending freeze myself! I joined the 31 Days of Living Well and Spending Zero Challenge (sign up and do it with me).
What Are Your Fixed Expenses?
To do a zero-spending challenge, you’ll need to first take a look at your budget or regular spending habits.
- You’ll still need to pay fixed bills, such as mortgage or rent, utilities, and loans such as car payments.
- You’ll also need to eat. Chances are that you have many items in your pantry and freezer that need to get eaten, but you may need to buy some staples, like milk, bread, and fresh fruits and vegetables during the challenge. Be sure to allow for a small grocery budget.
Do You Have Any Unnecessary Expenses?
Take a look at other things that you buy. What can you cut out?
We would all be better off if we reduced some of the junk food that we bought (and ate). My husband goes to Tim Horton’s every chance he gets, and I think nothing of adding random pantry “staples” to my monthly Amazon order. Yes, those are “food items” and they may be a really good price, but they’re unnecessary.
Also, do you have any subscriptions that you don’t use or could cut? Could you change your cable plan, cancel your gym membership (or freeze it if you plan on using it at a later date), or cancel anything else?
What About Unexpected Expenses?
There may also be some expenses that are not typical expenses. Your child may get sick (my daughter had an ear infection on Day 1 of the challenge, so I had to take her to the doctor and get antibiotics) or your car may need new brakes. Also, you may need to pay for some things that you have built into your budget but weren’t anticipating, like school pictures.
Hopefully, you don’t run into too many of these savings-drainers, but if you do, try to continue with your original plan and save in other areas.
How I plan on saving this month:
It’s my goal to save $950 this month. Here’s where I’m cutting.
- Grocery bill: I’m going to limit my grocery bill to $250 (we normally spend over $800 because we have food allergies and need to buy a lot of special, super expensive foods). I’ll refrain from buying junk food (my waistline will thank me, even if my taste buds revolt) and try to use as much from the pantry and freezer as possible. Savings: $550
- Dining out: We normally spend $150 on “dining out,” but this month we’re going to eat every meal at home. Savings: $150
- Entertainment: I normally have a $50 budget for “entertainment,” things like movies or taking the kids to a water park. This month, we’re going to have to break out the board games or play in the backyard! Savings: $50
- Gas: I currently have a half tank of gas in my car, so I’m going to stretch my tank as far as I can. On a positive note, I currently have $.60 off per gallon at my local grocery store from using my rewards card, so gas should be a lot cheaper when I need to buy it. Savings: $50
- Household: I have a ridiculous amount of cleansers and cleaning supplies, which is ironic because I’m very selective and typically only use Lysol wipes, vinegar, and Dawn dish soap to clean everything. I’m going to try to use what I have (and empty my cupboards in the process). Savings: $50
- Baby: Thanks to my Amazon Mom membership (I buy all my diapers and wipes through the Amazon Mom program to save 20% each month), I already have plenty of diapers, wipes, Desitin, and baby lotion. I won’t need to buy any of those items this month. If I do run out of an item, I’ll try to use substitutes like one of the three half-used tubes of Aquaphor currently on the changing table. Savings: $50
- Cellphone/cable/phone: I called my cell phone provider and reduced my bill (joint with my brother) by $56 a month. Also, I plan on cutting our cable plan and looking into getting rid of our home phone. Savings: $40-70
- Total Savings: Approximately $950
There are many easy ways to save by using what you have or going without, especially if it’s only for a month. You can do anything for 31 days, and you might surprise yourself by creating some good habits! Also, you might just have fun finding new, creative ways to connect with your family without breaking the bank.
Have you ever done a spending diet or freeze? How much did you save? Were you pleased with the results? Leave a comment below.