Every February for the past two years I’ve done something called “No Buy Month” on the blog and invited others to participate. The purpose of No Buy Month is to basically put you on a financial diet for a month. It’s a great way to learn how to save money if you’re not that disciplined at following a budget. I was inspired by Frugalista, and how she got herself out of debt. The rules of No Buy Month are pretty simple. Don’t buy anything that is not a necessity. That means you can only pay for groceries, bills, medication, kid’s stuff (school supplies, clothes) and transportation. (gas, subway or train passes, parking passes for work). The first reaction I usually get is “No way! I can’t do that!”. My response is. What if you had to? Well, that happened to me, just last year.
By using the techniques that I’d learned during “No Buy Month” I was able to financially survive a health crisis without slipping further into debt.
Many of you who follow the blog know that at the end of 2013 I was hit with a health crisis that basically benched me for a few months. I couldn’t go to work, (heck, I could barely keep up the blog!) and I was forced to rely on savings to get by for a few months. With a mortgage, home repairs, mounting medical bills and dealing with everything financially on my own, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through. (Physically, I was blessed to have amazing friends and family who came to my aid and for that I am forever grateful). By using what I knew about eliminating excess spending, I was able to make it through (relatively) unscathed.
It’s all in the planning*
You have to approach No Buy Month like a diet. If you don’t weigh yourself, plan your meals, have healthy food around you, or give yourself extra time in the morning to workout it’ll be next to impossible for you to lose weight right? The same thing goes for a “financial diet”, if don’t have the right tools, you won’t plan what you need for the month properly, and then you’ll be caught out there spending more than you actually have not getting anywhere. What surprises many people is that often you have to spend money to save money and this is one of those times. For instance, you may have to buy a travel mug to bring your coffee so you won’t be tempted to run to Starbucks. You might want to buy a bento box to bring your lunch in everyday instead of eating out or subscribe to a meal planning service so that you won’t have to worry about what’s for dinner every night.
Once you get through No Buy Month once, you’ll know what to do if you ever:
- Lose your job
- Become ill or unable to work for a period of time
- Want to save for something special
- Are working to get out of debt.
Some people think of it as training for a financial emergency. Other people who are trying to live frugally, think of No Buy Month as a way of life. If you’re in college, No Buy Month is an excellent way for you to save money once a semester.
It costs nothing to participate, there are no embarrassing before/after pictures and you can make of it what you want. You can go all out and participate fully in all areas, or you can just cut out what you can. The only thing I ask is that you commit at least a week sometime from Feb. 1 through Feb. 28 to eliminating excess spending, keep track of what you are buying and encourage other people here and on Facebook to do the same.
Here are the hard and fast rules:
This year, I really want folks to get more involved by putting up pics on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram documenting the ways in which they are saving money. Please use the hashtags #nobuymonth #savvybrown This way you can inspire and motivate other people to participate and save money! I want to see everything from meals you’ve brought to work for lunch (instead of buying out) to DIY products you’ve made yourself instead of purchasing them.
- Will you participate in No Buy Month this year?