After the excesses of Christmas, a no-buy January can help your bank balance recover.
But with temptation everywhere to spend, spend, and spend some more, how can you have a successful no-buy January?
These are the tips I will be using to get through my own no spend month. I’m excited to see what I can save, but most importantly I want to try to stop putting such a huge amount of pressure on my bank balance.
When it comes to cutting back on your outgoings, the most important thing you can do is recognise your triggers. What is it that drains the most cash from your bank account? How can you resist that temptation for one month?
The beauty of a no spend month in January is that it can actually be something that transforms into a much longer habit.
My plan is to see how my no-buy January goes. If it’s a success I’ll be extending it further.
A no spend month is not about trying to stop all spending on anything forever. Deprive yourself for too long, and you’ll be falling off the wagon in the first week.
Set realistic expectations and you can totally do it!
These are my rules for a successful no-buy January. I hope by doing this I’ll be able to save at least £400.
Make rules and stick to them
Go into your no-buy January with your eyes wide open.
Write down exactly what you dos and don’ts are and then stick to them.
For me, the key rules are no buying new clothes, make-up or unnecessary toiletries. I have enough of those already.
I have a couple of prior dates in the diary for meals out, which I don’t want to cancel. But I’ll be avoiding spontaneous drinks and evenings out.
I’ll also make sure that meals out that are planned, happen somewhere we can get a voucher to cut the cost down.
Essential spends only
If you’re the type of spender who convinces themselves a new scarf is totally essential because it’s a different colour to anything else you have, then you need to change your buying attitude! See the next tip for more on that.
What falls under the essential spending rule? Food, bills, mortgage or rent and critical repairs to your home/car.
I’m assuming here that your wardrobe is already full and you’ve got all of the essentials you need!
For kids, their clothes falls under essential spending where they’ve grown out of vital items such as school shoes, wellies, coats etc.
If you’ve got plenty of pairs of trousers or tops, then you don’t need to replace that one pair they’ve just grown out of.
Items such as make-up, clothes for you, home decor, and jewellery do not count as essentials.
Have a 30-day rule
Every time you see something you want to buy and you’re finding it hard to resist, leave it 30 days. During that 30 days you have breathing time to think about whether you actually need that item.
This rule can really help you to differentiate between the stuff that you want and the stuff that you really need.
Stop buying your daily coffee
If you hate coffee, but buy tea or a juice every day it’s the same thing.
Most of us have some kind of casual purchase we make every single day, or regularly throughout the week, that actually we could live without.
Try making your drink of choice at home. It’s a tiny fraction of the price of buying it on the go.
Make your lunch and dinner
How much do you spend on takeaways and lunch out every month? Even one quick sandwich from the cafe can be £5 or more by the time you’ve added a bag of crisps or some fruit.
Make a proper meal plan encompassing lunches as well as dinners every single week. Make sure when you visit the supermarket you’re stocking up on all of the meals you need.
If you really love your Friday night takeaway, you could have that fortnightly instead of weekly. Alternatively, look up recipes for home cooked versions of your favourite meals.
You can mostly do these type of meals for a fraction of the cost of buying it from a takeaway.
Think about your journeys
Do you have to get a taxi home from the station or can you walk it?
Try to reduce the number of journeys you make across all modes of transport. The petrol you use on even small journeys all adds up at the end of the month.
Try to walk as much as you can, which will be great for your health anyway!
Do your own hair
Skip the hairdresser and do your hair at home.
DIY colour is actually really good, which surprised me as I had my hair highlighted at the hairdressers for years and was terrified of doing it myself.
Honestly, using store bought colour is totally fine!
You can trim your own hair at home too to buy you a few extra weeks between visits to the hairdresser. I actually went two years without seeing a hairdresser and saved hundreds of pounds.
Give yourself a little allowance
In order for this to work, you need to know your own psychological limits. Some people can ditch every little treat in their lives and cope.
Others can cope for a week before spending the money they would have done that last week plus more.
Allow yourself to have some allowance. This could be one takeaway during your no-buy month. Whatever it is, make it small!
You don’t want to make your no-buy month totally pointless by spending £150 on a new handbag!
If you think you can make the whole month without the allowance, then do it! The more you manage to cut back on, the more you will save.
Open a new savings account
If your current savings account is quite old, chances are you could be getting a better interest rate there.
Research the best savings account deals and get a new one started. Use this to pop some of your cash you’ve managed to save each week away.
This will motivate you, as you’ll see a figure going up proving that your plan is working!
Have a goal
The best motivation for your no-buy January is having a final goal in mind. It could be a holiday you would like to get booked in February, or topping up a savings account for a new piece of furniture.
Whatever your goal, have it written down and whatever money you manage to save, you’ll be able to see yourself getting closer to that goal.
It’s great to represent your savings and your final goal with some kind of chart. Some people draw a jar and shade in sections of it to represent chunks of cash.
Others, such as the very motivating money Instagrammer My Frugal Year, use a square divided up into smaller squares. Colour in each square for every £10 you save.
Whatever you do, it’s brilliant to actually see progress being made.
If you ever struggle, remind yourself of your final goal and have that be your motivation.
Tell your friends and family
There may be times that you feel weak, so it’s good to tell your friends and family what you’re doing so that they are on board too.
Tell them what your ultimate goal is, rather than just “I’m doing a no-buy January”. It can help them to understand that you’re trying to achieve something by doing this.
If you liked this post, you can also find some tips for saving cash throughout the year over on my New Year’s resolutions post.