Every month, my husband and I sit down and look at our finances from the previous month. This has become our new “date night,” as we discuss how much we would like to save for the future and what we should cut back on today. It’s amazing how little items and habits, like coffee and eating at restaurants, can add up so quickly. Recently, we decided to pick a category where we spend the most and cut it from our budget for a whole month.
As a fashion blogger, I love finding the best deals. I refuse to pay over $50 for any one item, which has forced me to be creative with my blog and has taught me a bit of financial discipline. However, loading up on clothing, even sale items, has put a dent in my wallet over time. I challenged myself and my husband to cut out spending on clothing for a whole month.
I challenge you to save by cutting something you can live without — whether it be clothes, restaurants, coffee or something similar — from your spending for a whole month. I’ve outlined a few strategies that have helped me and will hopefully motivate you to save, as well.
Track and analyze your spending habits to get a picture of where your money is going (there are many free financial trackers available). Focus on a category of discretionary spending (not a necessity) where you spend a lot of money. You might be surprised what you can do without. After we ran through our budget, we realized a good amount of our money went toward clothing. To be honest, I almost considered this a necessity, and I didn’t think we could skip clothes shopping for a whole month. However, as each week went by, we realized we didn’t miss it nearly that much, and the satisfaction of saving made up for it.
Pick a month out of the year that works best for you, and makes sense with the category you choose. If you want to cut out coffee runs, you probably want to do this in the summer when you don’t have to wake up at 5 a.m. to get your kids to school.
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Don’t tempt yourself. I do a lot of shopping at Target for groceries, home goods and pharmacy items, but I realized I almost never leave without buying clothes. So, for a month, I stuck to the grocery store and pharmacy. If I wanted to walk around a shopping street or mall, I brought my baby. Why? Babies are the best “no spend” accountability coaches, as they are the hardest shopping partners. If you don’t have a kid, tell a friend what you are doing for that month, and they can help keep you accountable. (Unless you give up drinks with friends, in which case, this might be tough.)
Pick something that will motivate you to save. We looked at our average monthly spending habits over the past year and agreed to give a month’s worth to a charity with a mission that was important to us. This helped put things in perspective and kept us focused on the bigger picture. We got satisfaction knowing that money was going towards hopefully changing lives — even if our closets didn’t change.
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