This post addresses some important questions to ask after a no spend month, but that doesn’t mean it’s over! It’s not over til it’s over (though you may wish it was).
If you’ve made it this far, congrats! If you haven’t, that’s totally okay. Don’t look at it as a failure, but as a learning experience! Either way, let’s really start to think about the past 30 days.
Questions to ask after a no spend month
Can you live on less?
Did you find you really can survive, and survive quite well, on less money? Sure, some things may have pushed the envelope a little (in my case, food), but what did you cut back on that you didn’t miss at all?
Do you WANT to live on less?
It’s all about choices. You choose how you spend your money. You have to eat and have a roof over your head, but you can choose how and where to shop, as well as how much to spend on housing and transportation. What choices have you made about how much to spend in certain areas?
What did you discover about wants vs. needs?
Do you have more or less needs than you thought? If you went all in, you can probably answer this question fairly easily. Actual needs become very apparent when you’re trying not to spend any money at all.
What was easiest to cut back on? What was hardest to cut back on?
It takes around 21 days to form a new habit (though some say it takes up to 60 days). Either way, this means you’re at least halfway to developing some really frugal habits.
Analyze what worked for you and what didn’t. Continue doing more of what worked. Evaluate what didn’t work and why. Really hone in on the frugal habits you found enjoyable and figure out how to hack the ones you didn’t.
Check out Mystery Money Man’s last no spend update to see how he plans to continue his new frugal habits!
What did you learn about yourself?
Do you use shopping as entertainment? If you missed shopping, ask what you would have purchased and why. Does it meet an unfulfilled need? Is it a distraction?
Do you like to make homemade meals? Or would you rather have quick meals on hand to heat up?
Do you like to go out to eat for entertainment, or do you do it in a pinch when you don’t have a meal ready?
Did you spend more or less time with your loved ones?
It’s interesting to evaluate money spent in relation to time spent with friends/family to see how your spending and social habits are connected.
If you quit
Going all in is HARD!
If you stopped before completing the month, don’t be hard on yourself! You still learned something! Why didn’t it work for you? What was the moment when you threw up your hands and said, “uncle”?
Would you be willing to try again? Learn from what worked and what didn’t. Could you do it on a different level by just cutting out one thing for a month?
Once you’re through the month, I encourage you to sit down and write about your experience (I’d love to read it, or even publish it, if you wish to share!).
Answer these questions and process what you learned from this experience, even if you didn’t finish the month. You will have some great insight into your strengths and weaknesses, particularly when it comes to spending.
Moving forward with this new information can help move you toward your financial goals. Whether you are paying down debt, breaking the paycheck to paycheck cycle, want to save more, or have a goal of financial independence, what this month taught you is invaluable. Don’t leave those lessons behind.