According to a study conducted by OnePoll in 2019, most Americans spend $1,497 a month on nonessential items. Imagine what you could do with an extra $1000! You could pay off some bills, set up a savings account, have emergency money ready for the next car breakdown. What exactly are these non-essential items?
Essential Spending Versus Non-Essential Spending
Essentials are those items that you need to survive. Food and shelter are at the top of that list, but there are a lot of non-essentials built into everyday life.
Essentials include rent or mortgage, medications, utilities like gas, electric, internet, food, insurance, transportation, and legal obligations such as child support and payments on any loans. These are items that you need to spend money on and considered essential.
Non-essentials are everything else. This includes eating out, entertainment, Starbucks, cable TV, and other expenses that are not necessary to live.
The simplest way to determine how much you are spending is to keep track of every penny that you spend a month. Non-essential items and how much you spend on them will start to become obvious.
Your next step in preparing to live for 30 days without spending money is to eliminate all those non-essential items.
Eliminating Your Non-Essential Costs
A recent poll of Americans detailed how we are spending money.
Restaurant meals and take out/delivery accounted for almost $400 a month. Add in buying lunches for work every day, and the total can reach almost $600. Exotic coffee, bottled water, and drinks alone can reach $300. Just eliminating those expenses can put roughly $1000 right back in your pocket.
TV, cable, streaming media services, and paid mobile apps can account for $180 in monthly expenditures. Many of us enjoy shopping online and buying new subscriptions. That pleasure can cost up to $200 a month. Add in haircuts and gym membership fees and those can easily reach $200.
You may want to look into less expensive phone plans or carriers. And do you really need to buy the latest flagship phone when your existing one works just fine?
Let your kids take a break from all those extra-curricular activities. Choose one that they really love and drop the others. Your kids might actually enjoy that better.
If you can eliminate those expenses for a month or more, you will have more cash in your pocket!
Hot to Prepare to Live for 30 Days Without Spending Money
Thirty days seems like a really long time, but start with one day, then move on to one week. It will take time to break a habit that you have spent years developing and it will take even longer to start to a new one. In fact, experts say that it takes an average of 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic. However, starting small and gradually working up to the 30 days of a financial reset can lessen the shock.
Pausing spending for 30 days can let you reset your finances and examine your lifestyle. Those 30 days could make a huge difference to your future.
Enjoy a No-Spend Day
Choose one day and leave your credit cards at home. If its a weekend, look for free activities that don’t involve much driving or public transportation. Fill up a reusable water bottle and go for a walk or try to enjoy some outdoor activities.
If it is a workday, brown bag it. Stay off Amazon where you might find a deal too tempting to pass up. By now, you should have an average spend amount per day based on your month of monitoring every penny. How much did you save? Was it worth it not going to the coffee shop or canceling that subscription?
Reward yourself by putting that money into a savings account or even a piggy bank works.
Build it up into a No Spend Week and then into a No Spend Month.
Tips for Completing a No Spend Month
During your No Spend Month, you might use the time to empty out your pantry. Most of us have a random selection of food on hand that you can use up to make interesting meals out of. No stopping at the grocery store and that includes Costco!
- Dive less and plan trips to minimize miles. You’ll save gas and wear and tear on your vehicle.
- Get your entertainment for free through your local public library or park
- Excersize by going for a walk or following along with a YouTube video.
- Avoid going to the bar or coffee house with friends. Brown bag your lunch to work.
- Clean out your hose, garage, or storage shed and sell or dominate any items you don’t use. Plus, if you are paying for storage fees, you’ll save on those.
- Do you have extra vehicles (boats, ATVs, campers, bikes, etc) sitting around? Try to sell them, you’ll save insurance and maintenance costs.
- Put any money you have made from unloading stuff into your savings and add in what you didn’t spend over the month. You may be amazed at how much money you have leftover.
If you have bills, this could be a great time to pay them off.
After Completing Your First No Spend Month
Now that you have had the opportunity to wind down to the bare necessities and set aside the money you have saved, what should you do next?
Instead of going back to your old spending habits, keep some of the changes going. Your life may be less hectic and more fun. Add back the real luxuries but don’t overdo it. If you love going out to eat, shoot for once a month. If designer coffee is your thing, do it once a week. Before you add another expense, make certain that it is worth it and that you really need it before you spend the money on it.
Try to do a No Spend Day or Week each month to let yourself take a breather from the constant spending in our society.
What If All This Isn’t Enough?
If you are so deep in debt that nothing will make a difference for you, you may need professional help. We at Pacific Debt, Inc. are professionals in debt settlement and can help you discover how to become debt-free within 24 to 48 months.
For more information, contact one of our debt specialists today. The initial consultation is free, and our debt experts will explain your options to you.