I don’t do well with moderation. Nuh uh. I’m good at not doing something at all, or doing it a lot, but tell me I can have a little bit, and I can’t cope. Take bread, for example. If there’s no bread, there’s no problem, but if there’s a loaf, I’ll eat it all. If you say I can have a couple of slices, that’s harder for me than having none at all.
Why? Because I’m not in the habit of only being allowed a little bit, however, if I go for a few days without having any bread at all, a couple of slices seems like a lovely treat.
It’s the same with money.
I’m terrible for creating a spending flood. I go into town to buy something I need, say moisturiser, and come out of the shop having dropped thirty quid on the moisturiser plus maybe a night oil and a cleanser or two. And then I get a shopper’s high. I get big ideas about going for coffee and ooh wouldn’t a trip to Ikea be nice and maybe we could go for dinner and the theatre! The next thing I know I’m looking at flights to Bali, ffs.
BUT ALL IS NOT LOST
If you have a similar brain to me (commiserations if you do) you’ll probably get the same kind of high from purposefully not spending money. Like it’s a challenge.
So why not try a wee spending freeze?
Now, I don’t go hardcore on these. Like, if I need to buy food, I buy food, BUT you should be aiming to use the food that you already have in your cupboards.
Spending freeze walkthrough
1 – Set a time limit
Maybe start with a week, just to get your toes wet. If you think you can manage a month, go for a month. Just pick a regular work week and don’t spend any money that isn’t strictly necessary.
2 – Prepare
Make sure your budget is sorted, especially for your food shopping. I’d highly recommend making a meal plan (even though I hate doing them), just so you don’t end up living on pasta. Pick things that use similar ingredients with a few tweaks, for example, if you buy in onions, carrots, celery, tinned tomatoes, beans and quorn/mince you can make chilli, pasta, risotto, lasagne and curry with ingredients you probably have lurking in the pantry. Check out this post to see what I always keep in stock, this post for my stockpile and this one for what I buy on a frugal food shop.
3 – Identify weak spots
Do you buy your lunch at work? Make sure you’ve prepared to take your own. I like Bobble bottles because they have an inbuilt filter and they’re easy to just chuck in your bag. The £8 may seem extravagant BUT if you buy a bottle of water a day it soon adds up. I used my Bobble bottle for the gym and now for running too, so it was worth the splurge for me.
I can’t be trusted to be organised enough to make sandwiches for work so I tend to make leftovers on purpose if you see what I mean. Risotto is my favourite (although for Pete’s sake heat it up properly, I don’t any rice-related food poisoning incidents on my conscience), but pasta salad and chilli are great too.
4 – Keep your eye on the prize
Sod’s law is a real thing. You can practically guarantee that something heinous will crop up during a spending freeze – your car will conk out, your leg’ll fall off or your mother will suddenly decide she needs two birthdays like the queen, and you have to organise a garden party.
That doesn’t mean you need to quit your spending freeze. Spend the money you need to, but continue living out of your pantry and entertaining yourself with shadow puppets, Pictionary or your very own, at home fight club – whatever floats your boat.
5 – Just go with it
A fundamental mindset humans have is ‘that’s the way we do things’. It can be crippling to a spending freeze. Have cereal for tea. Hell, have cereal for breakfast, lunch and tea for seven days if it gets you out of debt (I probs wouldn’t recommend this for more than a week, though, but you do you). If you want cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and salad for tea every night because it’s cheap, awesome. If you want chilli for breakfast, awesome. If you want to go to bed at 7pm and rise at 11am because it saves you money on electricity, awesome. That’s how my housemates and I kept down costs at university 🙂
6 – Don’t go out with a bang
Don’t use your spending freeze as an excuse to overspend ( the diet analogy again – don’t reward healthy spending by going on a binge). Celebrate with a movie night – a bottle or two of wine, some snacks and some Netflix. Or go out for a meal if you can find a good coupon.
7 – Think outside the box
You don’t necessarily need money to buy things. What do you have to offer? Do you grow vegetables that you could trade for a haircut? Do you have hens, whose eggs you could trade for running an errand? The great thing about this is you don’t necessarily need any skills – people need time most of all so you could offer babysitting, laundry, dog walking…the list is endless.
What do during a spending freeze
- Find free ways to entertain yourself – check out this post for inspo
- Meal prep/learn to cook – Pinterest is great for ideas
- Get a Netflix/Amazon Prime trial and hammer some boxsets. Amazon music is also a great (cheap) alternative to Spotify.
- Go for walks, volunteer, go for a run
Embarking on a spending freeze is a great way to get back to basics with your money. It is also a great tool to help you pinpoint where all your precious cash is going, and let you see what is important to you. For example, you might really miss going out for dinner, but you really got to grips with taking your lunch to work – awesome, if you continue to make up your own lunch there’s no reason you can’t go out for dinner every now and again.
I really hope this post is of some use to…somebody. Anybody. Let me know if the comments if you have any worldly tips on how to make a spending freeze a little more bearable. I’m all ears!