The pandemic has been playing havoc with everyone’s finances. It has been at least a decade since I have had this much difficulty making ends meet. One of my favorite bloggers, Courtney Carver, has a saying “instead of trying to make ends meet, focus on having fewer ends.” To accomplish this, I am going to institute a no spend 2021.
No spend challenges are typically trials that last for a short amount of time. Most people will institute a no spend challenge for one month or maybe three months. If successful with the short term challenges, sometimes they are extended for a year. It is an extreme method of trying to bring finances under control and save money.
Given that I have been paying 3-4x for food in the pandemic and have been having challenges meeting my basic needs, I feel it is necessary to institute a no spend challenge for the entire 2021 calendar year. On top of the struggles I am already enduring, we are scheduled to begin repaying our student loans again in January. The relief from student loan payments for the pandemic will be ending unless the new administration decides to bail us out of our student loans.
Given that I am instituting a no spend challenge, I can tell you right now, that if you are looking for people to stimulate the economy, it’s not going to be me. I do not have enough disposable income to stimulate the economy. Disposable income is an oxymoron in this pandemic.
No spend challenges look a little different for everyone. Each person who does a no spend challenge has their own rules. It’s best to use the rules that work best for you.
Here are the rules for my No Spend 2021:
- Only pay for needs. This includes things like mortgage, electric, gas, etc. While they are primarily fixed expenses, I am doing my best to try to decrease each one. For example, I have lowered my heat 3 degrees this winter compared to the temperature I had my thermostat on last winter. Yes, we are cold. But I can’t afford heat. I have to cut back.
Reducing fixed expenses is something I have been working on over a period of time.
Over the years as part of my minimalist journey, I have made some behavior changes that have served to decrease my fixed expenses. Some of these include my movement away from paper products towards reusable items. If I am not buying disposable items, then I am saving money. Examples of this have been my transition to cloth handkerchiefs, cloth feminine hygiene products, replacing paper towels with cleaning cloths and cloth pee rags.
- The only expense I have that is not fixed but is still a need, is food. More on my food strategy will be coming in another post.
- Beyond needs, the only purchase I am authorizing for 2021 are new running socks. First, even though last year I updated my regular socks, underwear, and bras, I did not update my running gear. In fact, what I typically do is “retire” something from everyday use and start using it for running. This combined with the fact that I am very rough on running gear means that my socks are either threadbare or full of holes in the toes and heals.
Instead of just spending $20 on a package of 6 white socks that will probably only last me one running season, I have decided to invest in 6 pairs of Darn Tough socks. I anticipate that the Darn Tough socks will hopefully last me 3 running seasons instead of just one. Plus, with their replacement guarantee, it is totally worth the investment. I love supporting small American businesses, especially during this time. If I can support a small business even during a no spend year, then I am going to do so. So I will be saving money and trying to gradually replace all my running socks during 2021 with Darn Tough socks instead of a cheapo white 6-pack.
My goal with a no spend year is to replenish my savings that has been completely decimated by the pandemic. Not only is my savings gone, but I have had to use my credit card for groceries, so I need to get that paid off.
My no spend 2021 will hopefully help me pay off the credit card and get money into my savings. I need savings to be able to cover house maintenance, car maintenance, and cat needs. So obviously, those three items are not included in the no spend year.
For many people, instituting a no spend plan is very hard. Many people spend money on books, clothing, take-out coffee, prepared (not grocery – prepared) food delivery, etc. If you are one of those people, then it is going to be more difficult to institute a no spend plan because you are going to feel like you are giving something up. That’s because you are giving something up. No spend challenges are hard. That’s why it’s a challenge.
While an entire no spend year may seem extreme and overwhelming, try a no spend week or a no spend month. If you try a no spend week and it seems too painful, you can always stop. For me, a no spend year is a financial necessity in the pandemic. I do not have any disposable income and I really need to get money back into my savings account to cover any emergencies that may come up (on top of the global pandemic we are all experiencing).
Have you ever tried a time period of no spend? How did it go?