By Jael Strong
When you’re on a limited budget, you have to strive to make every penny count. That means that it is necessary to spend considerable effort in deciphering your needs from your wants. In my household, we have instituted a program designed to do just that: No Spending Days.
These days of no frivolous spending were not at first received well by all concerned. Jackson dreaded these ominous days of no McDonald’s or pizza for dinner. But through perseverance and strict (or, at times, semi-strict) adherence to the rules, we have saved mega amounts of money and become much more sensitive to spontaneous spending. I personally look forward to No Spending Days and take pride in the fact that we have increased from four such days per month to eleven!
The rules of a No Spending Day are simple. We do not buy food out, go shopping, or engage in any impulse buying. We do pay bills on these days, but even purchasing gasoline for the car is kept on hold if we can help it. By steering clear of stores and restaurants, we have developed the ability to do without items that in the past we thought we needed immediately. We have also become more skilled in the kitchen and eat better. The best part of No Spending Days is that we have become more sensitive to our cash flow even on the off days. Ultimately, this saves us even more money on the remaining twenty days of the month on which spending is permitted.
Getting everyone with the program
Getting everyone in a household or in a business to participate wholeheartedly with a program like this one is not easy. Convincing others to be self-sacrificing without seeing immediate benefits is nearly impossible, but there are ways to soften the blow. Here are some methods that worked for this program:
- Be convinced. It will not be possible to convince others that a program is good for business if you are not convinced yourself. Do the numbers. Knowing that everyone’s full cooperation will make the program a success will, in the end, come across in your presentation of the concept.
- Start slowly. We started with one No Spending Day per week then gradually increased it to three. When introducing a new program, don’t expect everybody to suddenly change the method of doing business. Allow time for the idea to take hold.
- Keep your word. When Jackson wants something on a day that spending is not allowed, I tell him that if he has the money and the desire later in the week I will bring him to the store. If I don’t keep my promise, he will not be willing to cooperate with the program. This is true in any setting. Where appropriate, show a willingness to compromise that demonstrates respect for each individuals different needs.
- Coordinate. Make sure that everybody understands the new program being introduced, the timeframes involved, and what is expected of them individually. Regularly check in with team members to verify that the program is working for everyone involved. Welcome feedback.
No Spending Days are a great success. We have seen the encouraging results of sticking to this money-saving tactic. Granted, Jackson isn’t always one hundred percent pleased with the system, but by sticking with the points outlined above we have achieved a level of cooperation that is a positive byproduct of a great decision.