I was answering questions to an interview recently (not published yet!) and one of the questions was “what was the last thing you bought?”. Pretty straightforward, but mind you, I had to think long and hard. I hadn’t spent money in the past week or so, and the last time was for food and gas, nothing exciting.
The previous non essential purchase was a manicure and hairdo for a wedding, and new tires for my car.
When I am home, I don’t spend money because there are no shops around. Just a basic convenience store that doesn’t stock the products I use, and if they do, they have a 25% markup compared to the supermarket. You can buy eggs by the unit about 50% more expensive than buying a carton of eggs in town. But most villagers don’t go to town, 20 miles away, so they have to shop there. Anyway, at home, I only pay workers’ salaries, electric bills and top up my internet modem online, so I can live without cash for a week or two, in between town trips.
My shopping pattern goes:
every 1-2 weeks, buy groceries, drinking water, pet food, gas and materials at the hardware store.
every month, pay utilities (home and UK rental) and workers via online banking, top-up internet modem online
every 2-3 months, go to Guatemala City, or Miami, or Paris, buy clothes, electronics and other imported stuff that costs a lot here.
Having a no spend day is most days for me. But when you work, you wake up, get coffee on the go (£1.29), the paper (£1.50), your train ticket (£4.50), buy lunch ($5.99), get a drink after work with your colleagues (£4.50) and take a cab home because it has been a long day ($12). Total: £29.78. Or £923 per month.
A little here, a little there, it adds up. Sure no two days are the same, sometimes you go without coffee or walk to work, but generally, you are bound to buy something.
How about trying to have a no spend day once a week? You will need to prepare for it. Pack your lunch the previous day so you can bring it to work, wake up earlier so you can walk to work (or if you have a monthly transit pass, that still counts as a no spend day!), say no to your colleagues, and hit the park instead of the pub after work.
It is not as hard as you think, and once a week is perfectly feasible for most. I won’t pretend like it will save you £29.78 every time you do it, but how about putting £10 in a jar for every successful no spend day? You won’t feel the pinch as you would have spent the money anyway, and at the end of the year, you can go on a £520 vacation instead of having no memory of where that money went.
That is such a little sacrifice you will not notice it, yet the rewards can be huge.
Having a no spend day so you can go out to dinner on Friday night.
Having two no spend days so you can afford a massage next weekend.
Having a weekly no spend day for a special Christmas treat.
That is assuming you do put the money in the jar or the dedicated savings account when you manage a no spend day and don’t blow the money up in makeup the next day….