March is here! Which means spring is just around the corner and you’re ready for a new project to tackle. We have just the thing: The One-Month No-Spend Challenge! What’s that you ask? Think of it sort of like a cleanse for your wallet.
Here’s how it works:
Step 1. Get your family/spouse/significant other on board. Your best-laid plans can be derailed in an instant by someone else’s spending. Make sure anyone with access to your plastic cards and checking/savings accounts knows what’s up and supports this adventure.
Step 2. Look at your monthly spending. If you’ve been following along with this blog, you may have already done that; if you haven’t you might want to try it for a month to get a better handle on where your money is going. Tally up all the things that you absolutely must pay for in a month: the mortgage, car payment, groceries, utilities, phone bill, school fees, your retirement savings, etc. This amount should not include date night, coffee runs, etc. Yes, we know those are important, but you can give up almost anything for a month.
Step 3. Determine how much money you could reasonably save this month. Subtract your “musts” from your take home pay and see what you have left. This is the amount of money that you could consider saving this month.
Hopefully that amount is something kind of exciting: a number you’d be pretty darn happy to sock away in your rainy day fund. Yay you! But maybe that is a lot less than you would have guessed, which might mean you need to take a closer look at your lifestyle and fixed expenses. Why not set up an appointment to talk with one of Summit’s financial advisors? They’re a great resource and will work with you to get your finances back on track.
Step 4. Put that money in your savings right now! Go ahead: pull out your phone or take a minute to head to online banking. Move that money from your checking account into your savings. Doesn’t that feel nice?
Step 5. Deal with the reality that you just put your fun money in your savings account. We know it’s hard to say goodbye to movie night (out) and lunches from the food cart, but breathe deep and think about the cleanse analogy: this is temporary and you’ll feel so good when you’ve done it.
But how will you get through the next month without the little extras? Hey, no money doesn’t mean no fun! Most cities have lots of free things to do—go online and poke around. Check out a park or neighborhood you’ve never explored before. Do some volunteer work. And check out this site for more great ideas: the simpledollar.com.
Step 6. Expect the unexpected. There will be something during the month that you didn’t expect or budget for, but we know you can problem-solve anything that comes your way. Borrow tools, barter with friends, Google substitutes—you can do it!
You’ve got this savings stuff covered! Good luck!