A no-spend week helps you save for things that matter, while evaluating where your money goes. Katy Beskow shows you how to balance the books without spoiling the fun.
Make a meal plan
Before starting a no-spend week, scour the cupboards, freezer and fridge to identify the ingredients available. If you need top up on products to get you started, write a list before visiting the shop and stick to it. Based on what’s available, create a meal plan to include breakfast, lunch and dinner for the week. It’s good to cook in bulk and freeze individual portions for when you need a quick meal, including three-bean chilli and lentil bolognese, or eat your leftovers for lunch. Plan snacks too, to avoid the temptation to buy nibbles when out and about.
Travel for free
Instead of using public transport, consider walking or cycling to your destination. You’ll save money and boost your fitness! If this is not practical and you need to drive, car share with colleagues or friends, or find commuters going in your direction through liftshare.com. You can repay the favour by driving them the following week.
Meeting your best friend for dinner during the no-spend week? Instead of splashing out on a meal in a restaurant, invite them over for dinner and create a beautiful setting in your own home. Try a new vegan recipe with the ingredients you have available and consider asking them to bring dessert. If you enjoy meeting friends at the pub, invite them to a cocktail night and use up the alcohol and spirits sitting at the back of your cupboard.
If you run out of a household cleaning product during the week, it’s likely you’ve got all the ingredients at home to create a substitute. Bicarbonate of soda, white vinegar, lemon juice and table salt can all be used to make effective and natural cleaners, simply research online and use the empty bottle and spray nozzle to store your cleansing solution. Many people don’t go back to commercial cleaning products after making their own, saving you money in the future.
There’s no need to spend a fortune on a romantic night out, when you can have a great time without breaking the bank. Have a cosy movie night, with your favourite film and a few snacks (included in your weekly meal plan) or take a midnight picnic (also in the meal plan) to your favourite view spot. There are lots of free events available with some research, including audience tickets, comedy clubs and open mic nights for something a little bit different.
Write down your financial goal
Sometimes during a no-spend week, it becomes frustrating when you deny yourself an item that you ‘want’. Write down what you would like to do with your savings and keep it visible to inspire you. Perhaps you could create a mood board with images of the places you would like to travel on that holiday you’re saving for, or photos of your dream home, whatever works to keep you focused on saving those pennies.
Take up a new hobby
Exercise classes, art clubs, courses and seminars can be expensive to attend. However, you can find an array of classes available for free online – and you don’t even need to leave the house. Search on youtube.com for tutorials and demonstrations on anything from yoga to vegan baking or calligraphy. If you prefer to learn a hobby in the company of the others, skill swap with a friend and spend a couple of hours a week sharing skills.
It’s good to treat yourself, even in a no-spend week. Rather than splash out on a beauty treatment, have a DIY facial, creating an exfoliator with oats, olive oil and sea salt, all of which you probably have in your cupboards at home. Run a hot bath and use up that essential oil you forget about. Instead of treating yourself to a magazine, read a book you have at home, or a new title from the library. Bake vegan cupcakes (freezing any excess cakes) and enjoy with a cup of tea for a moment of luxury without the price tag.
One of the best things you can do financially is to cut out that coffee you purchase every day. Even just £2 over the course of the week for a soya latte adds up in your piggy bank. Quitting the coffee habit doesn’t mean cutting the caffeine altogether, simply make coffee at home and take it with you in a flask or KeepCup, and remember that you’re saving the planet by reducing plastic waste, as well as your hard earned pennies. If you have no choice but to purchase a coffee, find a voucher code or promotion that entitles you to a free drink.
Build it up
If the idea of a no-spend week feels like too much, try a day, then a no-spend weekend. You’ll quickly be mindful of where every penny goes, before committing to a week of not spending anything. Planning is key, along with carefully considering what separates ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ when spending hard-earned money.