Think a no-spend month sounds impossible? Think again! Establishing a no-spend month as a family doesn’t mean you spend nothing; it just means you find ways to cut back and enjoy life for less. Use these tips to make family bonding priceless… literally.
Know your reason
The obvious reason for establishing a no-spend month is to save your hard-earned cash, but that shouldn’t be your only goal. “A no-spend month has many benefits in terms of family cohesiveness and learning to respect and enjoy each other’s company. When the focus is on using resources you already have, you may find that time spent together without spending money results in appreciating each other and what you have together even more,” says Dr. Sybil Keane, licensed therapist and mental health expert at JustAnswer.com. Plan your no-spend month to maximize savings while also maximizing family togetherness and fun. It may require a little more creativity, but the result will be more positive.
Set some ground rules
Look closely at your spending habits and budget to set some ground rules. Obviously, you’ll still have to pay your bills and plan for necessities such as groceries, but do you really need your morning latte? How about your kids’ Saturday-morning McDonald’s breakfast? Some things in your life probably feel like tradition but end up costing you a lot of cash. Setting them aside for a month will help pad your wallet, but it may also cause dissent in the family ranks. Know exactly what a no-spend month looks like to you before springing it on the entire family.
Make plans for your savings
Based on your budget and regular spending habits, you should be able to figure out about how much you’ll save over the course of the month. Decide now what you’ll do with your savings. You can pay off bills, start a college fund or set it aside for a family vacation. The point is to make a plan and stick to it. Money has a way of disappearing if you’re not conscious of your goals.
Have a family discussion
Once you’ve set your budget and decided how to cut back, have a family meeting to discuss the plan. Dr. John Duffy, clinical psychologist and author of The Available Parent: Radical Optimism for Raising Teens and Tweens loves the idea of a no-spend month, but points out that older kids may be less willing to get on board with the idea. Discuss your plan with your kids and share with them your goals. Explain that, while you may be foregoing restaurant meals, you still plan on having fun family dinners. Ask them to think up some free or almost-free activities you can do together, such as hiking, camping or crafting.
Expect a little pushback, but don’t let it deter you. A no-spend month can benefit your kids for life. Duffy points out that, when kids are involved in budgeting and purchasing, they learn to make difficult money decisions they might otherwise take for granted. This can help them develop good habits now that can evolve into responsible financial management later.