Becoming a conscious saver who makes regular deposits into a savings account is a fail-safe way to establish smart money habits. Take that one step further and commit to one week of no spending, every second month – and you’ve got yourself some serious savings.
Some people take their quest to save to extreme lengths, such as the flatmates in Canada experimenting with a Buy Nothing Year. But in Australia, Buy Nothing New Month in October encourages conscientious consumption and helps participants better understand their spending habits.
But there is an easier way to take charge of your spending and discover the joys of budgeting, and that’s to have one week every two months of zero expenses. While it can seem daunting to spend nothing over an entire month, getting through seven days every second month is relatively painless.
Nevertheless, a zero-dollar week will require some thoughtful planning. For example, if you catch public transport to work, you will need to buy your prepaid weekly or fortnightly tickets the week before, and if you drive you may have to switch to public transport or ride a bike.
You will also need to do your grocery shopping early and think of recipes to use everything you already have in your pantry. Or perhaps cook a range of meals the week ahead and freeze them for cost-free dining that has the added benefit of buying you back time for a week.
“The idea of a spend-free week has a lot of merit because it encourages the three qualities of pre-planning, discipline and creativity,” said Greg Pride, financial adviser with Centric Wealth, “which are all good traits to have. You would start to do things differently and that could alter your habits.
“It’s all too easy to pull out the credit card and buy another item. We have made things too easy for spending, and if we set some sort of barrier to spending like this, it would take you to a place you should be thinking about in the long term. Particularly if you have big ticket items you are saving for, such as a deposit for a house.”
Another tip is to keep track of your bills and if they fall during your chosen zero-dollar week, make sure you pay them in advance.
Recruit your friends
Pride suggests, recruiting friends to embark on a zero-dollar week with you. “It would be a lot harder doing it on your own,” he said.
This way you can motivate each other, but you could also enjoy casual dinner parties together (with food and wine purchased the week before, of course) to make up for not being able to go out for that week.
“You will have to be creative in thinking of free ways to entertain yourself,” Pride added. “You could go for a walk in the park or a free concert.”
Inviting friends over for a movie or a games night is another free way to socialise. You never know, you could be starting a new tradition among your circle of friends.
Whether you are saving to purchase your first home or planning your next holiday – employing a savings plan to cut back on your outgoing expenses, while growing your savings in a high interest savings account, will be a giant leap towards achieving your financial goals.