In the past 3 years, I’ve started many a month with the words ‘this month I’m going on a spending freeze‘. Until June this year, none of them could be deemed even remotely successful as I generally lasted about 4 days before I splurged on fast food or cosmetics or that River Island sale I just couldn’t pass up.
Well, I’m happy to say, that June 2018 was a game-changing month for me, I finally had a spending freeze where I actually started saving some serious money and I think it really impacted my overall spending patterns for the better.
A lot of this change was simply down to my mindset, but there were a few things I implemented this time around that made a world of difference, so I’m going to share them with you today.
1. Set up a separate bank account with your allowance in it and lock away the card linked to your main chequing account.
I’ve tried the whole ‘cash only’ thing before and, I’m sorry, it just doesn’t work for me. In a world where so much of my spending is done online or by direct debit, ‘cash only’ just isn’t realistic.
In January I set up a new account with Starling Bank (an entire post on how wonderful they are is coming at you real soon) and I’ve been transferring my monthly and weekly budgets into that account (usually that’s £60 for fun/miscellaneous spending and £20 for electricity at the start of every month and then £40 for groceries and essentials each week).
Although I’ve been doing this since January, June is the first month that I have actively locked away my Santander card so I can’t spend with it, I’ve also disconnected it from my online shopping accounts (ahem, Amazon) so I really have to think about it before I spend.
So far I haven’t found myself in a situation where I’m penniless and stuck, and I’m thinking more about what I’m buying to avoid that unfortunate eventuality. It’s my favourite tip by far.
2. Have some other plans for the month.
In the past, when I’ve done a spending freeze month, I’ve made it a month where I have no other goals. The idea behind this was that if I’m doing nothing I’m spending nothing, but I’m afraid that’s just not how reality works. This time around I made a list of a few hobbies that cost nothing (or cost little), that use things I already have or can easily access and set myself some goals.
For example, I’ve gotten really into gardening lately. Yes, this has a small upfront cost in that you need pots and plants and a watering can etc, but you can spend entire days in your garden especially when it’s sunny, and it feels great!
A few other ideas for goals would be:
- Read a book you’ve had on your bookcase for ages but never got around to.
- Experiment with leftover ingredients and store cupboard foods to create some new recipes.
- Watch a new TV show or documentary you’ve been meaning to check out.
- Start/update your blog.
- Learn to/recapture your love of instruments (mine’s currently the ukulele).
- Download Duolingo and start learning a language every day.
- Create a solid morning routine.
- Go for daily walks or start working on a Couch to 5K.
3. Create a spending freeze tracker that makes you feel accomplished each day, but also doesn’t make the task seem too extreme.
Creating a tracker is a fine art, and it’s one I’ve failed at on many previous occasion.
Once, I simply added it to an existing habit tracker, but shading in one tiny box after 24 hours of no spending wasn’t particularly gratifying.
Similarly, I’ve dedicated an entire page in my bullet journal to a massive tracker, but it made it seem like I had so far to go.
This time, I create a half page table with a box for each day of the month (each box ended up measuring 3×3 squares if you’re interested). It’s the best of both worlds as I got to shade in 9 squares each day (very gratifying) but it doesn’t look like I have a huge mountain to climb!
4. Have a savings goal in mind.
Once again, this is a rock I’ve perished on too many times. Setting out on a spending freeze with the intention of simply ‘saving money’ often isn’t enough to actually talk you out of a purchase. However, telling yourself that this pair of shoes will do you out of a holiday or a car is a pretty great way of getting through.
Personally, I’m currently saving for a trip to New Zealand next year and I’ve worked out a very comprehensive savings plan that doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for error, meaning I know that every purchase I make will actively hinder my progress. I still have moments where I want to spend, but that’s where tip 5 comes in.
5. Block your most frequented shopping sites on your phone.
I’m not going to lie, this one is a little hit or miss and it takes a while to get all the fine tuning done. However, I really think it’s one of the most effective ways of curbing impulse shopping.
On my iPhone I set up restrictions that mean I can’t access any of my most used shopping sites (to do this go to: Settings – General – Restrictions – Websites – Limit Adult Content – Add your sites to the ‘Never Allow’ section).
This dones’t stop me from online shopping altogether, I can still make purchases from my laptop if necessary for business or necessities, but it puts another roadblock between my money and these sites. It’s a game-changer as far as I’m concerned.
And that’s it! I really hopye you guys found this uselful and that you consider doing a spending freeze yourself, it’s a great way to save some money and now’s the perfect time to do it – with the weather so nice, you can do lots of things outside for free!
If you found any of these tips useful, or you have any of your own, let me know in the comment section below, I’m always on the hunt for new ways to save a few pennies!
See you in the comments!