What Is A Spending Freeze & Should You Try One?


What Is A Spending Freeze & Should You Try One?Happy new year! I’m slow to transition into a new year and new habits. Christmas leaves me spinning, so it’s usually early January before I’m able to slow down and consider goals and habits that I want to continue for the next year.

One that I often repeat is a spending freeze.

After the holiday season, I feel a little out of control with spending. It seems money is required at every turn and the outflow is overwhelming. A personal spending freeze always helps me feel like I’m taking control of my own finances and self. For me, the first of the year is a natural time to slow the torrent of spending.

You’ve probably heard of “Dry January” or all the fitness goals that roll out for the start of a new year. A spending freeze is just what it sounds like, only there are certain built-in allowances that must be paid (hello, utility bill!). Obviously, you can’t spend literally zero for a month; you need to eat and get around. The key is to cut non-essential spending in order to save, pay off debt or put the money to work in another way.

So how does a spending freeze work?

  • Keep spending on the normal essentials. Monthly bills, groceries, medicine, personal hygiene items and the like are things we need and must spend money to provide. The goal isn’t to deprive yourself or your family, but to filter purchases by actual need.
  • Set the time limit. Will you aim for one month? Will you try for one week? The key is to exercise the muscle of self-discipline and the actual time limit varies per your family needs. Do you have a child with a birthday during this time? A gift and dinner out don’t count against you when there is a reason. You’re in charge of your own self, so you get to set the limits. The key is to stick with them.
  • No eating out or coffee shops. For a set time, make your coffee and dinners at home. Bring lunch with you to the office.
  • Nix online shopping. It’s just too easy to add to cart and purchase. While you’re at it, take this time to unsubscribe from all the ads that hit your inbox or text notifications. You don’t want the marketers to have a direct hit on your wallet.
  • Look for free entertainment. Get outside, visit the library (or Libby app) and get together with your friends for an at-home movie night. Go for a winter drive with your partner or do an online fitness class.
  • Do not purchase new clothes or anything that isn’t essential. Unless you need socks/undies or your children need to replace something, just stay away from retail.

The quick rule is to ask yourself whether you really need to purchase something. There are many great sales, but do you really need another cute top? Can you wait a few weeks before purchasing the new shoes? Challenge yourself to pause and be creative. You will feel empowered by not falling prey to all the marketing schemes that tell you what you must buy now.

What will you do with the money you save?

This is the fun part! Even if you are going to use the money to pay back holiday debt, that’s a great goal. Could you save it for a summer vacation? What about a family treat, like season passes to an entertainment spot? Is there a non-profit that could benefit from your sacrifice? Are you looking to replace something at home, like an appliance or piece of furniture?

There are so many ways to implement a spending freeze. Get your family on board or try it alone for the first time. You will be surprised at how easily we normally spend without consideration. Try to stop spending for a bit and reap the rewards of your own self-discipline. A spending freeze is a great way to demonstrate to our kids that we don’t always need something new.


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