What is a Spending Freeze?
A Spending Freeze is one, full week of NOT using any kind of money. You buy nothing, and literally act like your bank account and wallet are FROZEN! The purpose of a spending freeze is to help you develop self-control while you save. We live in a consumerist world. We have everything we want and need at the click, or tap of a button. The goal of a freeze to is tell your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. The goal is mindfulness to understand what bad habits you might currently have, what ways you might use spending to manage your emotions, and to then, overcome and develop new ways you can enjoy what you already have. Chances are you already have ENOUGH.
*Enough* is my 2020 word of the year. Click HERE to learn more about how I’ve had enough of consumerism and it killing my dreams. If you grew up poor, are, or have been “bad” with money, THIS post is for you!
Rules of a Spending Freeze:
7 complete days of no out-of-pocket spending
Act like your bank account and wallet are FROZEN. You must make-do with what you already have in your home, your pantry, and your closet.
No take-out or eating at restaurants
Eat the food you have at home.
No coffee runs
Make coffee at home. Make any other kind of treat you purchase normally at home.
No Target, No Sephora runs
Yes, I am talking to you, girrrrl! No makeup purchases, or any other kind of self-care services or products are allowed to be bought during this challenge.
No event purchases
Attend free or family events around town, but buy no tickets or treats while you enjoy.
No Amazon buys
Nothing. Not even for good deals.
No renting movies online
Play a board game, call your mom. Rent nothing.
No paying babysitters
Of course pay your babysitters! But unless you are paying him or her in homemade dinners, you give them no cash this week. *If you already pay for daycare as a family need, by all means, don’t get fired for bringing baby to work.
No shopping for gifts
Not even for your grandma. (If it is your G-Ma’s birthday you better still buy her something before the freeze and make sure she gets it on time!)
No phone app downloads
Free ones are acceptable on a spending freeze.
Emergency purchases, like buying new tires because of a blowout, or paying for an ER visit are obviously allowed. Only you can decide when to start and stop a freeze, and what purchases are a MUST in case something comes up. The goal of a freeze is to help you overall, not hurt you. Preloaded gift cards are acceptable to use during a freeze. *Please don’t run out and load up a $25 Starbucks gift card the day before a freeze as a loophole. That would be disingenuous.
Why do people do Spending Freezes?
Money, mostly. People want more money and the fastest way to get it is simply to hold onto it when you get paid. (If you want money, but don’t work. Well, that’s another conversation. If that’s the case, reach out for help. If there’s a will, there’s always a way). Spending freezes help people save money for their emergency fund. (If you have a 2-person household or make more than $25k a year, your Emergency Fund should be $1,000. If you are a single-income household and/or make less than $25k a year, then $500 is a good Emergency Fund).
Freezes also help people pay down or pay off their debt. They also help people save for a big or important purchase down the road. Additionally, spending freezes help people break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck by going cold turkey! For more support on how to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck, I share my easy, practical tips you can do today HERE!
Another reason people partake in spending freezes is because they have enough CENTS (get it?) to realize they might have some bad habits, or they overspend or don’t track and manage their finances as well as they should. In order to be good with money, you have to have common sense and then use it. Use it well by developing and maintaining good behavior and good habits. Managing money is more about managing your behavior than numbers. People often want to develop an inner strength that comes with self-denial. Self-denial, or saying “NO!” is actually really healthy. “No” means we have values and boundaries, and believe in something. Saying “no” often means we want to protect something or someone, presently or in the future.
How do I prepare for a Spending Freeze?
First, pay all of your normal household bills as you would usually. This may include: your mortgage, rent, utilizes, internet bill, cell phone bill, and/or credit card bill. Next, fill up your gas tank or load your train pass before the freeze. If you need to fill up your tank during the week to get to work, please do.
Next, practice using those planning muscles! Pull out a piece of paper and pen. Make a list of what you normally spend money on each day of the week. This might include food, entertainment, or services. Then, assess what items are allowed and not allowed on the spending freeze. (You may decide to give up coffee for a week, but this is not a true spending freeze).
Then, meal plan and prep. Take stock of what is already in your pantry and refrigerator. Make sure you have enough meals to sustain you and your family for the entire week. *(We typically like to buy fresh produce twice a week. In order to stick to our freeze, we will be using the more delicate produce at the beginning of the week. You can also make frozen soups or casseroles the week before if you’d like!) This step will take time as you consider recipes, snacks, and coffee you may now need to make at home.
Finally, buddy up! Get pumped, and tell yourself and your accountability buddy you can do it BECAUSE YOU CAN! Success has many friends. When you want to buy that cute pair of shoes you saw on someone else at work, you might need to phone a friend to pull you back to your CENTses.