Start Off 2020 With “No-Spend January”! Here’s How:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but also the time of year where I feel most out of control with my spending.  I’m a frugal person and absolutely love finding deals & shopping off the clearance rack. However, during the holiday seasons, I don’t always have an opportunity to wait for a deal.  I have to hit that “purchase now” button at least a hundred times to get my presents, groceries or gas in time for our celebrations. 

From November until December, every time I turn around I feel like I’m spending money.  

I love giving gifts and I don’t mind spending money to make others happy or contribute to an event where we get to spend time together. But, it ends up becoming a habit.  All of a sudden I am constantly buying stuff, waiting for it to arrive on my doorstep or looking for “deals”.

Does anyone else spiral into the abyss of purchasing things you don’t really need? I mean, if my email account doesn’t have a shipping notification in it, I feel a little less excited when I get home every day!  

No Spend January

Something has got to change!

A friend once told me about something she does in January after the holidays: No-Spend January

It’s not literally “no-spend January”– you still have to pay your bills and get groceries & gas. The point is to remove the habit of spending extra on things you don’t need.  

If you want to give it a try, here are some guidelines to follow:

  • No spending money on things you don’t “need” (clothing, eating out, vending machines, extra sodas or coffee, etc.)
  • Minimize your grocery bills by trying to eat through the food you have in your pantry.  Now isn’t the time to buy a new bag of pretzels on a sale! Try to plan meals around the food you already have stored.
  • No entertainment purchases – movie tickets, sporting events, etc.  Instead, take advantage of the many free events around the area.
  • You can “cheat” on eating out only if you have a great coupon or a gift card to spend.
  • And lastly, if you “need” something, ask yourself “Can it wait until February?”

Can you do it?  I challenge you to try “No-Spend January” too!

Here are some tips to help you through:

  1. Set the rules for your family. Make sure everyone knows what the expectations are so you can be successful.
  2. Stick to it – it’ll feel weird at first not constantly looking for something to buy, but by restricting your spending for 1 month you can re-build your accounts. Plus, after a holiday season, you really shouldn’t need anything.
  3. Explain to your kids what you are doing.  Ours overheard us talking about not spending money, and they worried about our money situation.  It would have been better to explain what we were trying to do and help them understand we were just being frugal after a few months of increased spending.
  4. Be realistic.  No-spend doesn’t mean eating PB&J for a month. It means cutting out excess spending to allow for some changes in your habits. 
  5. Don’t open the emails! You will continue to get sales emails from your favorite stores.  Don’t even allow yourself to look, and instead delete them! We don’t need extra torture in our lives.
  6. Take a spending snapshot to see your progress.  Know what you started with in your account in January.  On January 15, check-in to see how much you’ve saved. Then, check again on February 1.

We saved over $700 last January by cutting out excess spending, but most importantly I changed my spending habits.  Still, we just took a vacation to Disney World and we are currently in the midst of the holiday season purchases.

I may be a little excited for No-Spend January to start this year.


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Katy is a working wife and mother to three. She attended Coe College in Cedar Rapids (Kohawks for life!) and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and English. Married in June 2014 to husband her Nate, Katy brought along her rescue dog, Sadie, and with Nate came two bonus kids. Nate and Katy welcomed their daughter, Zoey, in April 2016 and have happily completed their family. Well, until more dogs are needed. Currently working full time and supporting three active kids, Katy has a hard time squeezing in her own hobbies. But, when she gets a chance, she enjoys spending time with her family, being active, and reading.