Do you recklessly spend money during the holidays? The average American spends between $700 and $800 on holiday gifts every year. Toss in the additional cost of travel to visit family and friends, and the numbers for December can put a dent in any budget.
Then January rolls around, and fabulous sales call out to even the most conservative shopper. By the end of the month, it may be a little scary to look back and calculate how much money was spent on the pursuit of seasonal fun and irresistible bargains.
Spend Money Only on Essentials for 28 Days
Jan and I invite you to take the February Challenge—spend money on nothing but essentials for 28 days. This means you continue to pay for things like your mortgage or rent, utilities, credit card bills, insurance premiums, loans, car payment, and gym membership; you get to buy food and prescriptions and pay for public transportation; but unless it’s an absolutely necessary expenditure, it’s taboo for the month.
Some suggestions for cutting back include:
- No designer coffee on the way to work—no matter how indispensible you consider caffeine to be. Instead, make a latte at home and take it to the office in a travel mug.
- No lunches out—unless requested by a client or otherwise required. Brown-bag a healthy sandwich you’ve made yourself or take leftovers from dinner.
- No clothes shopping—at all. Surely you can get through the month with the things you have in your closet.
- No movies, concerts, or plays. No DVDs or CDs. Watch or listen to what you already own.
- No restaurant dinners or take-out food. Cook—whether it’s simple or more complex. Do it as a family, giving each person a task to complete.
We’ll leave it up to you to think of more ways to reduce expenses. In fact, we invite you to share in the comments section any strategies you might come up with. With a little bit of creativity, you just might make a dramatic difference in your spending habits in just one month. And who knows—when you see the financial difference your sacrifices have made, you might not want to go back to your old ways when March blows in.
Robin Martinez Rice says
I had challenged myself to this for the whole year! But my list is a bit different….activities such as concerts are on my okay list…especially if I go with a friend. It is the random shopping I need to eliminate. In the few weeks I have been doing this I have realized how I use buying things as a reaction to boredom or sadness. Substituting an activity or even packing something up to give away has been a good alternative to spending.
Robin…Thanks for your comment. You sound just like me! It’s the random spending that gets in the way. My goal for January has been not to spend any money on clothes or accessories. Using gift cards is okay, as is spending money I make by selling my clothes. So far, so good…