A 'No Spend Week' when you have a family ? What is it and is it possible? It is totally possible! You decide how you will do it, when you will do it and for how long. A no spend week is not spending money on particular things and instead saving a bulk amount of cash in one go. It does not have to be for a week it can be for a day, a month or I even know someone that didn't buy anything 'new' for a year! (they were initially saving to put a pool in but spent their savings on a big USA trip for the family from Australia instead - goals people, goals). The time frame you do is up to you. I personally do a week at a time as that's what I can manage with our family.
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When To Do A No Spend Week ?
A majority of the time I do a 'No Spend Week' when we go away on vacation! Because I make sure to get ahead in our bills, rent and groceries before that week, It means for at least one week that we are away I do not need to pay those and we have all of that usual money we spend there to spend on our vacation! - NOW PLEASE NOTE not paying bills and rent IS NOT a usual concept that most people do in a no spend week. Those are the things you do still pay, BUT I work hard in the weeks before hand to ensure that I am a week ahead so I can do that. I do not recommend you forget to pay those necessary items unless you are ahead and can afford to of coarse! It makes for a stress free enjoyable holiday to know we have extra funds on hand to have extra fun!
When should you do it ? If your going for a week, then choose your week smartly. I am set to do another no spend week at the end of January to help pay for passports needed for the entire family. So instead of actually doing it when I'm on vacation I'm doing it for something FOR our vacation - I'll note that I actually didn't realize mine and my husbands passports had expired so it is an unexpected expense sadly :( You should choose your week (or day/month) according to when you feel it will be most beneficial. Perhaps you are going away on vacation? Or do you have something else popping up that you feel a no spend week could help with? Perhaps you just want to save a good bulk amount of money in one go for the savings account for something extra big? Choose your week, but make sure it is at a time that you can actually do this and that you are prepared for. The first time I did it I actually put together a $1000 emergency fund (in which came in handy when some unexpected car repairs appeared).
What you DO SPEND MONEY ON In A No Spend Week?
As a general rule most people go by STILL SPEND money only on the things YOU HAVE to pay:
* Rent /Mortgage & Household Bills - What ever is due you should pay (for me I pay something extra each week leading up to my no spend week so I do not need to pay these)
* Transport - This includes petrol, trains, buses etc (for me I put a little aside each week in my cash envelope system for petrol so I do not have to pay that out of that weeks paycheck I already have it and can save what I normally spend).
* Any Other Commitments That Are Needed - For example personal loans, credit payments, school fees etc
* Groceries Partially - Some people prepare foods etc before hand not needing to do this at all for that week. Some still spend half or allow a smaller amount of their normal budget and save the rest (for me I have meals prepared in the freezer and purchase little extras in the weeks before hand such as snacks and have them stored separately in the pantry for this time. I do still have an allowance of around $30-$50 for the week to spend on fresh fruit, vegetables and necessities I may run out of eg nappies.
*** YOU SHOULD NEVER PUT YOURSELF OR FAMILY AT FINANCIAL RISK where not necessary. Still pay those bills and feed your family If needed.***
What you DON'T SPEND MONEY ON In A No Spend Week?
Basically in a no spend week you shouldn't spend money on anything unnecessary.
For us this includes things such as:
* Family Activities - Anything that's not already pre-planned or allowed for within our savings that we have put aside specifically for that week. We instead sort to do a lot of free activities such as go to the park, set up play dates with other kids at homes, go for a ride, a family adventure walk and explore etc.
* Personal Luxuries/ Fun Money - Family activities, dining out, clothes, toys, house items, alcohol (we don't really buy this only maybe 2-3 times a year!), coffees, games etc
Each week we have an allowance of $90 for the family that we call 'fun money'. We spend this on things such as family activities, random house buys, dining out & other entertainment. For me the only 'luxury' I spend on myself weekly are coffees! In saying that it is only $1. I drop Joseph off at school and head to the 7/11 on my way home. It's not a huge expense weekly but it is something that gives me a sense of sanity in having something for myself when I'm always buying and doing other things for everyone else 24/7. I very rarely (and I do mean very rarely as I cant even remember the last time I went out with a friend for a movie or dinner - actually a movie in October was the last time!) do much for myself these days as I just prioritize the the kids and husband. I would rather save money for vacations and experiences as a family. Really the only 'luxury' that my husband wants is $$$ to spend on his video game each week lol. So a majority of our $90 is usually spent as a family on family activities. On a 'no spend week' I keep around $30 from our usual $90 so my husband and I can still have some joy in that week! The kids dont really notice as we fill the time with those free activities!
Another note to make is that I have a envelope system in place for our money. Its how I keep track of our budget and save money for certain items, bills etc. I do have envelopes for some luxuries such as clothes & gifts. On a no spend week I just don't put the money I usually do in those and instead add it to that bulk savings.
* Gifts - No random gifts for people or the kids. If there is a party you know of coming up for that week be prepared and organize the gift in a previous week. Again I have a 'gift' envelope for my cash envelope system so on this week I just do not put anything in it and I save it.
* Takeaway/Dining Out - Do none of this during this week! The key to not doing this is to make sure you do your 'Meal Planning' - If you do not know what that is and want to know more + get a FREE meal planning sheet, read this blog post to get you started!
How Does It Make My Life More Simple?
Its strange to think so, but it does help simplify my life being that it reduces a lot of stress that week for me or if I am needing a bulk of savings for some unexpected reason eg It was a way I built up a $1000 emergency fund (I started this after reading some great advice from well known Dave Ramsey) so when a unexpected bill or car expense has come up I have had some $$$ to pay! As a general though, I mostly have chosen to do my no spend week on a week that we go away on holiday. That week I am ahead in rent and bills and have no need to worry about paying those and having extra spending money to just have fun together and enjoy!
Have you ever done a 'no spend week' ? Leave a comment about your experience and any tips and tricks you have for others that may be reading!