Is anyone else head first in this #FocusOnFinances November Challenge spending freeze week with me? It's been so fun so far! It's been a good challenge, and has been empowering to see all of us band together to do something great for our finances. As I mentioned, my goal is to save $500 this month to completely pay for Christmas. Seeing your goals on the blog post and social media has been so inspiring. We can do hard things!!
Since many of you asked, here's a review of how the spending freeze works:
1. No spending money for 7 consecutive days.
If you’re reading this thinking of all the “but what about…” excuses you can come up with…let it go! Just start! Now! or Tomorrow at least! Fill up your car with gas, run to the store for a FEW small staples to get you by, and just jump in. There will never be a “good week”, never be a “perfect time”, so just do it.
- For me, the challenge started Sunday 11/8 and will end on 11/15. For you, if you haven't started already, pick a day in the next 2-3 days and go! Doesn't matter what day you start/end on.
- “no spending” includes: groceries, eating out, getting a babysitter, washing your car, you name it. However…
- Utilities and bills, and emergencies are NOT included. But these are true emergencies. Not “but my kid forgot his lunch and needs lunch money” emergencies, but true “our basement just flooded” or “my daughter just broke her arm” emergencies.
- Gasoline is up to you. For me, it’s like a utility – it’s a “must have” and not a “want to have” item. However, just as with utilities, you can be smart about gas. Try to drive less, and only fill up when you need to.
- Got gift cards, vouchers, groupons, or coupons? Use them! BUT…if you have to pay tax or tip or anything else out of pocket, it will have to wait for another week.
- DON'T GO CRAZY TO “PREPARE” FOR THE FREEZE! The world is not ending, folks! If you are going over your typical budget in order to stock up for the freeze, you are defeating the purpose. To prep for the freeze (which I didn't even really do because I only gave myself 1 day notice) I ran to the store and used my remaining budget for some extra milk and bread. Otherwise I will use what's on-hand this week and SAVE my budget, instead of SPEND it on stocking up. Use your standard budget the week before the freeze to grab a few things you need.
Example…we have a work dinner on Friday that we can’t miss. Luckily we won’t have to pay for dinner, but we’ll need a babysitter. Rather than hiring a babysitter I’m going to trade with friends. Yes, it’s more of a hassle to put them to bed at someone else’s house, but it’s worth the savings. “If you’re in, be in ALL THE WAY”.
2. Use the saved money wisely.
One of the main purposes of this spending freeze is to save yourself lots of money in a short amount of time…but it won’t do you any good if you don’t make a good plan for that money you’re saving.
- Take what your budget would be for the week (see what mine is HERE) and put that money toward:
- Debt 1st (credit card, student loans, medical or other outstanding bills. Car and home are your call but the other 3 are very important!)
- Savings, Christmas, or another financial goal.
- Literally move the saved money into the proper place – whether it's cash or whether you need to transfer it out of your bank account – so it’s out of sight, out of mind!
3. Post about it!
For heaven’s sake, let us know how you’re doing! We’re a family here, after all! Instagram has been an amazing community of shared ideas lately, as has our Facebook page. Post photos of how you’re avoiding spending money. Use the hashtag #FocusOnFinances and #FCFspendingFreeze for a chance to win prizes!
4. When the freeze is over…
Your spending will go on as usual. Please please pretty please do NOT run out and spend everything you just saved! Pause, take a deep breath, and go back to your typical weekly budget as if nothing happened. It's only been 7 days…there is no need to go nuts at the grocery store, I promise. Use your budget and only your budget to buy what you need that next week.
- If your fridge is empty, no sweat. Use your normal grocery budget to buy as much as fits within that budget. Tapping into your “other” budget is ok – just don’t borrow from the next week’s budget. Trust me, you can get a TON of groceries for even $100 (see how HERE).
- The next week you shouldn’t need nearly as many groceries again since you did a big shopping trip (and are going to plan your meals ahead, right??). So you then can use your grocery budget for “other” expenses. The next week you’ll need groceries again, and should be ok in the “other” department. And the cycle will continue that way much of the time.
- In general, if a pantry or freezer item is on sale, buy a few extra (as long as it fits within your budget). You will have a healthy stockpile in no time!
See? That’s not so bad! I hope I covered everything. If you have a question, leave a comment below and I’ll edit the post to clarify it better. Best of luck to all of us this week, I’m so proud!
LET’S DO THIS! *chest bump*