We’re all mixed up as a nation about the difference between “needs” and “wants”. When we want something we call it a need to justify it and whip out the credit card – or extend the mortgage to pay for it.
If you really want to learn about “needs” and “wants” get ready for a No-Spend November. A month of financial fasting can work wonders on your immediate cash flow and long term financial wealth.
No-Spend November AKA No-Buy November. is a crash diet that makes your wallet fatter, not your waistline thinner. And a fat wallet is just what you need with Santa and his little helpers on their way to strip you bare of cash.
Over this Budget Busting month you’ll almost certainly identify the spending leaks in your budget. And it will also help you consume less of the world’s resources, making the planet a better place.
Rule 1: Naval gaze. Question every cent you spend. Try to argue with yourself and look for reasons why that particular good or service isn’t essential – rather than telling yourself the opposite.
Rule 2: Be truthful to yourself. You are the person who will gain from this exercise if you are honest to yourself. Telling yourself “I really need this” or “it’s only $5” is only going to damage you and if you have them, your partner and children.
Rule 3: Groceries are wants, not needs. The supermarket is the number one place you need to employ that honesty. Buying basics doesn’t mean indulging in Tim Tams, chips and other treats, or just about everything that comes pre-packaged. These aren’t essential to your survival and should be under the entertainment heading in your budget not groceries.
Rule 4: Eat your pantry clear. You should be able to avoid most trips to the supermarket except for the most basic of basics such as eggs, bread, and milk. Use No-Spend November as an excuse to eat up all that food you’ve already bought. When you start to run short of ingredients, don’t panic and head to the supermarket. Instead type the ingredients you have into Google and look for recipes that combine the ingredients. You can make a nice cassoulet with baked beans and sausages. Or if it’s peas, prawn and rice, cook a risotto.
Rule 5: Walk and cycle. If it’s remotely possible, walk or use a bicycle to get to work and other places. Sometimes it’s easier than you think. At least try it for a day. Believe it or not it’s possible for anyone of average fitness to cycle up to 20km each way without too much difficulty after a few practice sessions. If that’s really not possible try public transport. You might be pleasantly surprised about the extra time you get in your day to do things on the bus or train.
Rule 6: Have free fun. No-Spend November doesn’t mean all work and no play. Chances are that there are free activities in your neighbourhood that you’ve never tried. Or instead of meeting a friend at a bar, suggest a walk down the beach or along a local walkway. The conversation is just as good without the spending. Your local university or polytechnic might have free talks or events and I’ve even heard of people volunteering to be ushers to see shows for free.
Rule 7: Seek help. Find yourself a friend or two to be your No-Spend November buddies. Call, message, or meet up with your friend and see what s/he thinks of your spending.
Rule 8: Stick to a set cell phone spending target. A mobile phone is essential in the 21st century. If you have a fixed monthly package then make sure that you don’t spend a cent over that in November. Even better, call your own provider and the others including small ones such as Skinny and check if they have a better package for your usage profile.
Finally, whether it’s No-Spend November or Austere August, be reassured that it is likely to make you healthier as well. Replacing takeaway coffees and fizzy drink with free water out of the tap and taking more exercise to get from A to B will make you feel better.