As we work through our budget there are some days when we spend nothing all day, these are the great days. It was something we try and plan for during the week; if we’ve had an expensive day say with grocery shopping or paying a large bill then we make a conscious effort the next to spend nothing.
Doing that does require a small amount of planning but it gets easier the more into our lifestyle we get. We’ve never been the type of people who stop for coffee at Starbucks or eat our lunch out every day so it’s just a matter of going an extra day between gas fill ups, or delaying picking up milk or bread for a day.
Of course this means we have to buy those things the next day and the overall spend isn’t changed; but the psychological impact of going a day without spending a single cent is huge. To a degree it’s a type of gameification, a challenge when we get up in the morning. Can we go the whole day without spending anything?
There is actually a huge rush at the end of the day to knowing we went the whole day spending nothing.
Typically we are finding we can do this 5 or 6 days a month. Which doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s actually quite hard. Originally we thought that spending on average $100 a day on day to day expenses would not be difficult, but each month there are usually 8-10 bills to pay from cell phones and larger utilities to smaller ones like Netflix. So typically in each month there are 8-10 days when we cant control whether we spend anything or not (all our bills are auto pay). Add in grocery trips once a week, plus leisure items plus kid and pet related activities and it suddenly becomes quite hard to not spend anything in a day.
In our previous life I think it would have been almost impossible to do this, it’s only once you track every cent you spend that you can see where you can cut back. Once you cut back then it obviously becomes easier to spend less.
We have found that making savings and frugality into a system of small games and rewards helps the whole family to focus and to keep on track. Having the reward though is important even if its only Friday night pizza. It can’t all be total frugality all the time.