In the most basic sense, a spending freeze is a period of time in which you don’t spend any money. A spending freeze could be as short as a day or as long as an entire year! There are many variations of the traditional spending freeze, but even just one week of spending zero could put you that much closer to reaching your financial goals. If you’re thinking of doing a spending freeze, here’s what you need to know to get started.
Know your “why”
If you are considering a spending freeze, it’s important to understand why you are doing it. Remind yourself and anyone else involved why you are doing this challenge, and help hold each other accountable. Focusing on your why will help you stay motivated and say “no” when you are tempted to buy.
Decide how long you will do without
Before starting a spending freeze, you’ll want to decide how long you will be freezing your spending. If you have never done a spending freeze before, I recommend starting small. Start with just a few days and see how you feel after that. While it might not seem like much, trust me it can make a HUGE difference. Challenge yourself to see how long you can go without spending money, but don’t forget to pay any necessary bills or expenses. Don’t let your family starve just because you want to invoke a spending freeze.
Prepare and plan
Once you have decided how long you will go without spending, it’s time to prepare your household. Create a list of meals for your family before you start your spending freeze, and make sure your freezer, fridge, and pantry are ready to go! For help with meal planning check out my post here. I always plan out my meals weekly. However, for a spending freeze I would make sure I have more than a week’s worth of food on hand. A spending freeze can be the perfect time to use up what you have on hand, and clean out your fridge or freezer as well. Having all the ingredients you need ahead of time will help you stay focused and avoid grocery store impulse buys during your spending freeze.
Decide what you will spend money on
I know this might seem contradictory, but you will likely have to spend money on some things during your spending freeze. For instance, if we invoke a spending freeze, we still pay our bills, get gas for our cars, buy minimal groceries (if necessary) and pay a few other monthly costs such as Netflix. We focus on eliminating our spending on other areas such as dinners out, entertainment, travel, and other nonessentials. While some families will pay all of their bills ahead of time, prior to a freeze you’ll want to decide which method will work best for you and your family.
Plan things to do
You never realize how many things that you do in your day to day life cost money until you can’t spend any! Sitting around the house bored just isn’t fun, so you’ll want to get creative and plan a few things to do when these moments arise. Look on Facebook for free events in your area or check your community calendar. Get your family involved and make a list of things you can do together for when you’re tempted to spend money. Gather up any board games you gave at home, round up your cards, or go out for a free day on the town. For inspiration, google “Free things to do in _____.” Planning these activities ahead of time will ensure that your family doesn’t fall into temptation when boredom rears its ugly head.
Keep a wish list
During your spending freeze, you will likely find things you’ll want to buy. Either on a piece of paper, the notes app on your phone, or even a cute printable (I like this one), make sure you are writing these items down for later. Waiting to make a purchase will also give you time to compare prices and look for sales. Who knows, by the end of the freeze, you might not even want that item.
Embarking on a spending freeze is no easy journey. You and your family will be tested every day, and temptation will be all around you. By following the above tips to be prepared, you can make sure your first spending freeze is a success!
Have you ever done a spending freeze? What do you do to prepare?