Budget Challenge: Going on a 30-Day Spending Freeze

Oh, man did this guest post come at the right time! Savannah from Sincerely Savannah is here today to share some great tips for how to go on a 30 day spending freeze to get your budget back in check! After splurging during our trip, I’m now considering this method to get myself back on track. Read on for her great tips!

There are few feelings worse than looking at your finances and realizing – in a sudden, panicky way – that your situation is dire. Such woes can occur to anyone, particularly someone obsessed with style and fashion. Have no fear – there are ways to combat a spending crisis.

Budget Challenge: How to Go on a 30 Day Spending Freeze / hellorigby seattle lifestyle blog

One way is to take it in stride: You can make long-term saving goals. The second way – my personal preference – is to embark on a spending freeze. In other words, determine a specific amount of time in which all excess spending will be eliminated. Bid a temporary adieu to the things you want, and purchase only necessities. The guidelines below will pertain to a 30-day period, but you can customize your freeze to meet your saving needs. To undergo your own spending freeze, consider the following guidelines:

Document Spending

Before you can trim the extras from your spending, you’ll need to know where your money is going. Make a chart or list – whichever financial organization method that works best for you – consisting of where you spend money, how much you’re spending and how often such purchases are being made in a month’s time. A spending freeze focuses solely upon your outflow of money, so there’s no need to concern yourself with input vs. output. Just worry about the output.

Determine Extras

Next, denote whether each item is a want or need. Some things will be obvious, like concerts, manicures or weekend sushi dates. Prepare to cut these items from your life during the freeze. There are also hidden wants, items that are nestled within your necessities. Consider your groceries, for instance. Every time you visit the grocer, what do you spend your money on? You may think anything beneath the groceries umbrella is a need, but that’s not necessarily true. Stop buying that weekly carton of ice cream, the gourmet cheese and the bottle of wine. Also consider your gas spending – not all travel is necessary travel, so keep that in mind, too.

Cut Costs of Needs

The list lying before you – at this point – will be comprised solely of your necessary purchases. You’ve cut out the extras. Things like gas, essential groceries, rent, and utilities – these are the items you can’t avoid. Or can you? Get creative to cut these costs. You can get a lower rate by combining auto and homeowners insurance, for example. Consider getting rid of cable and investing in a more affordable streaming service like Hulu or Netflix. Check out ways to save on groceries. Consider carpooling to decrease travel/commuting costs or walk if you’re close enough. If you have space in your home, you could cut your rent cost by taking on a roommate. A strong dedication to your spending freeze can make the savings add up.

Explore Free Stuff

The biggest problem with a spending freeze is, of course, a feeling of deprivation. You may sense a gaping hole in your heart in that first week with no Starbucks. You might get cranky living without that ice cream waiting for you in the freezer. Don’t worry – you can prevail. The easiest way to do so is to find free events or substitutions for your former want purchases. Instead of going to a movie on the weekends, for instance, attend a free festival in your area. Rather than hit up the Redbox, rent a movie from the library. If you’re craving flavor, take advantage of a free community cooking class. Go shopping in your closet, pulling out items you haven’t worn in a while. Get creative, and you won’t feel as if you’re missing a beat.

Long-Term Benefits

You did it! You managed to freeze your spending and your bank account thanks you for it. Now the key is to determine which tactics can be implemented into your long-term budget. Did you even miss not having cable? If the lack of channel-surfing options didn’t create an unlivable void in your heart, ditch it for good and enjoy the benefits of a cheaper monthly bill. Go down the list and update your budget based on the things you can realistically do without. Take the remaining money you have left over each month and put in a savings account. You’ll have enough to take that trip to Europe before you know it!

Have you considered going on a spending freeze or completed one? Did it change the way you look at money? I’d love to hear all about it!

21 thoughts on “Budget Challenge: Going on a 30-Day Spending Freeze

  1. Robin Follette

    We did go on a spending freeze. When we eased up we didn’t go back to our old habits. Financially, we’re a lot better off now and only two month’s worth of pay (before taxes) in debt, including our mortgage. We’ll be saving and paying cash for big purchases in the near future and not paying interest to institutions. I encourage everyone to go on a spending freeze even if you think you don’t need it. It will give you a pretty good idea of how many changes you can make to be even more comfortable than you are now.

    1. Jenn Post author

      Wow, that is amazing Robin! I try my best to stick to a monthly budget for “fun” but with summer and travels I’ve definitely gone overboard. I’m inspired to start rethinking my budget and get back on track though!

  2. Annessa @ Seeking Sunshine

    I’ve tried going on a spending freeze before… it was not so easy for me. I’m currently trying to save since we’re moving overseas, but my will power is not so strong with all of the sales going on (and now the Nordstrom sale!). A simple change I made to save a little was to stop eating out so much and cook at home more. Not only have I saved money doing this, but I’ve also been able to get healthier. Wins all around!


    1. Jenn Post author

      That is a great tweak to save money! I definitely need to get back in the habit of cooking at home every night but summers always tempt me to eat both unhealthily and out more often! Congrats on your overseas move – I bet you guys are so excited! :)

  3. Jaime

    We’ve never done a spending freeze but it sounds like a great idea! I have such a hard time determining a need from a want and have poor impulse control. =)

  4. Mattie

    I’ve implemented shopping bans (so just on clothes/shoes/accessories) and always failed. But after my spending at the Nordstrom sale I think I’m ready to actually stick to a shopping ban for the month of August (just clothes and such–I’m fine with unnecessary spending in other areas).

    1. Jenn Post author

      I’ve tried as well (though not truly seriously) but am thinking the same for August. The only problem is all the back to school sales tend to get me too!

  5. Emma

    Thanks so much, Jenn and Savannah! This is so so timely for me as I’ve just started working on my budget (for the umpteenth time). Do either of you have any suggestions for money management apps? Thanks!

    1. Savannah Hemmings

      Hey Emma,
      I personally use the Mint app and absolutely love it! You can pay bills, set strict budgets by category (bills, groceries, mortgage, etc.), and it will send you notifications before a bill is due. Very easy to navigate and has helped me become more accountable of my accounts! :)

    2. Jenn Post author

      I was going to recommend Mint as well, as that is what has always been recommended to me! Now I just need to actually sign up and use it ;)

  6. Cindy

    A few years ago I did a 6 month spending freeze on all clothing purchases. At the time I was spending more on clothes than anything else, and it was becoming a problem. I made it through those 6 months without a single purchase on any clothing, shoes, accessories, or makeup. It was rather difficult at times, but once I was free to shop, I really paid attention to what I was buying.

    I realized through that time that even though there were things I really wanted to buy, not having them wasn’t a bad thing. I don’t even remember any of the items I wanted to buy but couldn’t now, even though it seemed terrible not to have them at the time. To this day I still have a keener sense of the quality and use of the items I buy, and that spending ban was the biggest influence.

    It would be neat to try something similar for a shorter time. I’ve been eating out a lot lately, perhaps that is a good place to focus a spending ban.

    1. Jenn Post author

      Wow, 6 months! That’s so impressive. I think a spending freeze would definitely help me rethink my wardrobe and beauty stash and allow me to rediscover things I forgot I had instead of just adding more to it. Curious to hear how it goes if you end up cutting out your eating out!


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