If you find yourself wishing every month that you could save just a little bit but you never seem to be able to put anything away for the future, try doing nothing for thirty days. Enlist the help of everyone in the family and for one month, go on a spending fast. Of course there are many — probably most things you do — that you can’t stop doing, but many things you can quit altogether for 30 days.
Consider going one month without any of the following:
For one month, you could go without paying to see, rent, watch, view or attend a single movie. Your eyes would not fall out. Your heart would not cease to beat. You could spend exactly zero on movies for one month.
You could easily go for a single month without eating over white linens. Most people enjoy the treat of a fine meal once in a while — some more often than others. There is nothing wrong with it, but skipping the white linen tables for a month may make quite a contribution to your savings account.
Everyone needs to buy new clothes periodically. Clothes wear out and must be replaced. Most of us, however, have plenty of clothes and can easily go without buying any new clothes for a month. While that may just serve to defer some spending, you might be surprised at how little of that month’s clothing budget actually does get spent in future periods. Ask yourself whether your last clothing purchase was really to replace something worn out or if it was just an addition to your wardrobe.
For one month, you could go without attending a sporting event, the ballet, the symphony, the opera or the theater. If you never attend these sorts of events, think how easy your spending fast will be!
For one month, don’t pay anything to do sports. This month, no new running shoes, no new bicycle shorts, no golfing, no new softball mitt. Put it off for 30 days.
For all but the snootiest of us, this will be a challenge. For just one month, see if you can go without fast food. No single trip to a fast food joint will save much money, but if you’re like most people, you’re making several trips each week. Skip them for a month; eat at home or brown bag it when you’re away from home. You’ll not only save a few pennies, you’ll probably be healthier, too.
For one month, you can skip magazines. Don’t buy them from the newsstand and when the renewal notices come, don’t do it. Wait (you’ll probably get a better renewal offer if you wait anyway).
Of course, you don’t want to plan your spending fast to kick off your savings during a month when you’ll be taking a vacation. More to the point, don’t take one of those quick, getaway weekends during your fast. Stick close to home.
By eliminating or deferring spending for 30 days, you can give yourself a much-needed kick in the savings account. Depending on your situation, you may be able to cut back $50, or you may be able to cut back $1000. Either way, it allows you to make a significant contribution to start your savings account. Harness your new found self-discipline to cut back a bit on future spending so you can contribute $100 or $200 every month to your savings account. You’ll thank yourself!
Devin Thorpe, husband, father, author of Your Mark On The World and a popular guest speaker, is a Forbes Contributor. Building on a twenty-five year career in finance and entrepreneurship that included $500 million in completed transactions, he now champions social good full time, seeking to help others succeed in their efforts to make the world a better place.