Credit Card Payment Calculator”

Tip #7: Create a “No Spending” day once a week

58 Comments- Get free updates of new posts here

4 2 0

This is tip #7 of the Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge.

Today’s tip is to set at least one day per week on your calendar when you don’t spend one dollar.

empty-wallet.jpg

Do you think you could do it? Technically, even if you don’t open your wallet, you’re still spending money on things like rent/mortgage, car insurance, subscriptions, and Christmas gifts — you just didn’t count them. But that’s even more of a reason to create a “No spending” day on the money in your wallet: because you can actively control it.

Today’s tip was submitted by Alexandra, from Wilmington, NC, who writes:

We do a week with NO spending. We fill the car with gas and hit the grocery store on Sunday. Starting Monday, we cannot spend a CENT. Sort of a fun little challenge. And it is only for a week. So, if I see something I need or want, I can get it next week. No cheating. AMAZING results. The first time I did it, I was flabbergasted to have the same $20 bill in my wallet. I got very used to it and so it is a nice little “shot in the arm” technique. Kind of like a fast to begin a diet regime.

Total Savings: $50-200

Alexandra’s tip is excellent because she uses the idea of time constraints to make the “no spending” idea more palatable. If you force yourself to do this only one day per week, you’ll look back the next week and realize it wasn’t so bad. (Notice she does it for a week, which you can work your way up to.) I remember a friend of mine once decided he wasn’t going to go out all weekend, and he donated the money to charity.

You can do the same thing — but the key is adding to your calendar so you make it a consistent system, not an ad hoc whim.

Total saved: $5 – $75

* * *

Additional reading:
Trent wrote about this at The Simple Dollar (check out the comments)

* * *

Last thing to do
Leave a comment on this post describing how much you’re saving with this tip and any unusual techniques you use to make this tip work.

If you liked this tip, check out my Premium tips — one long, tactical tip per week. Save money or get a 100% refund.

scrooge

4 2 0

Related Articles

How to make people like you

POP QUIZ: Let’s say I asked you which of these you could change about yourself: Your taste in food (...

Read More

When friends say, “Tell me if I ever get in a bad relationship...”

...THEY NEVER MEAN IT! How many friends do you know who said, “Let’s make a promise: If either of ...

Read More

58 Comments

4 2 0
 
  1. I like this tip and do it often. I think putting off instant gratification is a great exercise in discipline and helps sort out “needs” from “wants”.

    A corollary is to implement a specific ban on buying certain things. For example, I’m going to try to make it through this winter without buying any new clothes.

    Judith Levine wrote a book called “Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping”. Although her politics are quite evident in the book and may annoy some, it was an interesting chronicle of someone choosing to opt out of the consuming whirlwind that is so much a part of our culture. If your going to seriously implement this tip for a month, it’s a nice tie in.

  2. I think this is a good tip, and as your readers get more comfortable with not spending money, they can extend the no spending day to a no spending weekend or no spending workweek.

  3. When I was single this was a strategy I stumbled upon after a break up. Just staying in on the weekends saved me about $75 a week. Once I saw that I did it more intentionally with great results. It’s a great way to add to wedding savings when you are engaged.

  4. We already do this, but it’s more like five days a week. In an effort to reduce gas consumption, we only leave the house once or twice a week and plan it the day in advance so lunches can be packed, thermoses can be filled with water, etc. The days we do go out we strive for as few stops as possible, planned with the most efficient route. We don’t eat out, but bring lunch and snacks. I’ll have dinner cooking in the crockpot all day so even though I’m too tired to cook, we aren’t tempted to grab dinner on the way home.

    Today’s tip: $0
    Cumulative savings: $7.75

  5. As a follow-up to Merry’s post about “Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping” – check out Freecycle.org. I’ve obtained the following free items: a shop-vac, a 27″ Sony TV and plants for my gardens. Green frugality!

  6. I’ve been doing this quite often. In fact today was one of those days. It’s rainy and cold out so I decided to stay put, clean the house and make a cake with the ingredients in my cupboards. It was difficult at first as I was in the routine of visiting flea markets and thrift stores Saturday mornings. Now it’s not so bad.

  7. I think that this is an incredible tip. About two months ago I set a goal to not eat out. At the age of 24, I was eating out more often than not, nearly every meal. I didn’t know how much this affected my wallet until I stopped. I figured that it evened out to eating in, minus the cooking. It’s amazing the difference it has made in my finances. Now that I’m not eating out, I honestly don’t spend money 5 days a week. If it weren’t for the weekend, most of the time I would keep my wallet closed.

    Caleb
    http://www.mefinanciallyfree.blogspot.com

  8. I do this indirectly because I have a weekly ‘no driving day’. It’s usually Sunday or a weekday when I work from home. I drive alot throughout the week and it leaves me tired and it’s expensive. By not driving one day a week I get to relax and since I’m not driving anywhere I’m not tempted to spend money either. I like this one!

  9. You are assuming everyone spends money everyday. I spend money one weekend every other week with getting groceries and paying bills due. I will also get anything else needed like a repair or replacing clothing that has worn out. I will go out usually once or twice in the next 2 weeks to pick up milk or anything we’ve run out of. We don’t go out to eat but twice a year. We don’t do entertainment that cost money except for about 2-3 times a year.

    So, your tip saves me $0.

    You promised no “latte factor” type tips – these are ALL like that. If you don’t do that in the first place, you can’t save money on not doing them!

  10. Julie- that’s awesome you live your life the way you do but to be blunt, you are just a different breed. If none of these tips work for you then stop reading them! They’re helping out a TON of people like myself and I don’t even make more than $20k a year at the moment. Just take them or leave them; there’s no need to criticize someone who has proven himself to be helpful to thousands of people… Just do what you can to apply them to your already extremely frugal lifestyle if that’s what you want to do. If not, move on.

  11. Thanks for the great tips. Some will work for me (such as this one), and some won’t. But it’s really great to have this series handy in order to think about some of the things I’ve been spending on, and figuring out which things I can give up and which ones I can’t.

    I don’t understand the attitude of the people who’re complaining. One size does not fit all, and maybe they’re expecting one-on-one coaching.

    I’m really benefiting from this challenge, and I look forward to the rest. Thanks Ramit!

  12. Excellent suggestion, Ramit. Thank you. I can’t understand why you receive such harsh criticism. Every tip is not going to fit for everybody. Some of your posts are strategies I already practice. Others have made me think. You’re a sharp guy, keep up the good work.

  13. Good tip. How about adding this to it: we can add up things we usually spend on daily and then put that in a savings account(because we saved that by not spending). After one year it should turn into a good amount.
    A Dawn Journal
    http://www.adawnjournal.com

  14. I totally agree.. Every semester I have at least one day where I have no class, so on this day I do not do anything that requires spending any money.. If i work that day then I will try to ride my bike to work or car pool with someone.. A very valubale tip because it becomes contagious.. Realizing you can go a whole day without spending a penny becomes truly amazing…

  15. Sarah – these are the same rehashed tips that have been around for ages. They just get recycled and repacked. And, if you’re already serious about saving money, you’re already doing them.

    And you can’t possible save $1000 in a month on your income – are you skipping rent? no food this month? live with your parents?

    Also, ask yourself this. How does a psychology major become an expert in finance?

  16. Count me as one of those people who has already implemented many of these tips and probably couldn’t squeeze another $1000 savings out of my monthly budget.

    Nonetheless, I’m gratified to see these tips because it give me a little boost to acknowledge the changes I’ve implemented and as nice a reminder to maintain these habits even as my income (luckily) continues to rise (albeit modestly) as I progress in my career.

    Actually, I take that back, I could squeeze another $1000 out of my budget…IF I HAD TO. But I figure if, for every addt’l $100 I earn as my salary increases, if I’m saving $75 of it, then I also get to enjoy an addt’l $25 to spend on things that I feel worthwhile – a nicer meal when dining out, a non stop flight instead of 2-layovers, giving more to charities, spending on some hobbies, etc.

    Julie – do you have a degree in Sour Grapes?

  17. Once a week? If only! I’m at three no-spend days every week, and counting upward.

    A whole no-spend week, though: wow! I’m left in awe. How does this person get to work? My commute requires a fill-up a week. Even if I could tolerate sitting on a miserable bus for two hours and ten minutes to make the 25-minute drive (no joke: I tried it!), I’d still have spend something on the bus fare.

  18. that is a great idea! it would definitely have to be on my day off though as there is no way I can work where I do and not spend money.

  19. I’ve written about this tip in my blog, but suited it to my needs. I usually don’t spend money during the week, but spending money on the weekends is always easy. I’ve made my own challenge to have a no-spending weekend once a month, and may work my way up from there.
    Oh, and Funny about Money – Yeah, it sucks to pay for gas, but lots of people commute that far and a bus fare vs. filling a car up is sometimes a little bit more frugal. However, I wouldn’t want to spend 2 hours of my day commuting on a bus, so maybe you could try only spending money on essentials, and one of those would be gas. Keep up the good work, not spending money even just one day a week is great, so 3 is even better!

  20. I try to leave my debit card at home. I take out enough cash to cover me for the week and leaving the debit card at home keeps me from going back for more.

  21. Is this tip even necessary? It seems completely obvious that one can save money by not spending it (unless it is spent on something that can generate a profit.)

    Want to save gas? I suggest a “No Driving” day.
    Want to save brain cells? How about a “No Paint Huffing” day?

  22. I like the idea of one no spending weekend per month, Naturally Frugal. I am usually good about not spending much money during the week, but the weekend seems to be my prime time for spending money. Barring practical errands, like getting my watch fixed, I would’ve saved about $80 dollars this weekend.

  23. Some of you complain about this tip and other tips previously mentioned are common sense tips… I agree, but the problem is, we know what we should do to save money, we just don’t do it. There are enough of us who spend money without thinking about it too much… and at the end of the month, surprised to see the bank account balance low and credit card statement high. “But I didn’t buy anything expensive!” we say. For people like that, this tip is useful. It will stop us from impulse shopping and a trip to Starbucks.

  24. This is a really good idea. Because I have a day-job, I don’t have the luxury of staying home so though I cant avoid paying for public transportation or going to the gas station, I can pack my lunch (which I already do) and not buy espresso. Sounds small, but it makes a big difference.

  25. I agree, this method is relatively easy and rewarding with pretty immediate results. I always keep a daily log of my spending and I feel really good on those days that I don’t have to write anything, because I didn’t spend any money! I’ve been trying to walk around with less cash too; I don’t have a credit card and having little money in my wallet reminds me that I shouldn’t be spending it more actively.

  26. I’m really beginning to get sick and tired of the comments stating that these tips aren’t helping at all, but seriously, for every one person that doesn’t need these tips, there are about 3 more than don’t…believe it or not. Like people have said before, if you know so much, please enlighten us on your tips.

    Just these past couple months I’ve been tracking my expenditures and they’ve greatly helped my financial situation. I’m now able to save around $1,500 a month and hoping to increase that number…keep up the good work Ramit, don’t listen to the cynics, we’ve got your back

  27. Hey, where are the tips of the previous days?

  28. To all the naysayers: repeat Tip #3 until you have nothing left in your frugal cardboard box shack. Then get on a computer in the libarary or at work, because you’re obviously working an extra shift, and complain about how useless these tips are and how we should all bow down and worship you as the ultimate “frugalist.”. Then, go get a life outside of message boards.

  29. I hope those comments aren’t directed at me, because I never said I was the master of personal finance. I was just pointing out how obvious it is to say that you can save money by not spending it.

  30. If a blogger sends me an email claiming “Go check out my website…people have already saved thousands…this is nuts!” (and that is a quote from an email I received from this website), I want to see proof. I haven’t seen any comments like that in the comments of these tips yet.

    So, if I’m a naysayer, so be it, but if someone is going to make a claim like that, there better be proof to back it up. I don’t really appreciate false claims like that in order to generate web site traffic.

  31. I plan on making Wed & Thur no spend days this week and next. I hope to save $20 that might otherwise have aimlessly left my pocket :)

    I have found this project somewhat helpful, even though these tips are nothing new visiting the site everyday is making me think about them everyday, so for example, I’m not tempted to turn the Tstat up to 67 ’cause I’m a little chilly. It’s right on the forefront of my mind so I can act accordingly.

    My goal is to save $500 this month. Considering that I only make $1700 (after taxes) it will be quite a feat but I’m on track so far.

  32. Why haven’t there been any more tips?? Where is the rest of the miracle plan?

  33. Julie – stop being a bitch.

    I never said I could save $1,000. I’m doing this to save as much as I can whether it’s $100 or $500; Any money saved would be improving my financial situation- as it would anyone else’s (yes, even YOURS).

    You can’t possibly be that naive to think that just because someone majored in one subject, they’re completely incapable of having any valid insight on another topic. If that IS what you think, you’re an idiot. Everything is related. You don’t think finance and psychology relate to eachother?? Come on, Julie. How the hell do you think any progress is made in the world if none of us ever seek help from others who know something new or different than we do? That’s exactly why I’m reading this blog- unlike you, most of these tips are ones I haven’t heard or tried before and they’re working for me. I don’t give a shit if the guy writing about them is an expert in finance or not (which he never said he was, by the way so get your facts straight). He’s helping me and I’m grateful for that.

    Get off this blog and go do something productive with your life. Helping someone else rather than attacking any and every “pitfall” they may or may not have would be a GREAT start.

  34. Julie, the idea isn’t necessarily bringing out brand new tips that no one has ever thought of. It’s creating ways to implement these tips that people can use and continue using, such as this one.

    Many people find it very difficult to have 28 “no-spending days” per month like yourself, so showing a way to do it easily once a week is a good step for people to build on and have the ability to stick to.

    His ability to help people understand their own strengths and weaknesses and understand how to use them to save financially shows a lot of expertise in … what’s the word I’m looking for here… psychology.

  35. Julie, I’m curious who you think should be experts on personal finance? Economists, to a large extent, are interest in large-scale economic systems, ignoring the behavior of individuals. MBA’s are more interested in business than than your specific purchasing behavior. Who would you propose should be PF experts?

    As the behavioral psychologist here at Thrive, my previous research was what made the company seek me out: I worked entirely on issues of judgment and decision making, with a specialization on self-control and the choice environment. Spending behavior is human behavior, and it is psychologists, in cooperation with other scientists, policy makers, and finance experts, that generally deal with issues in that domain.

    That aside, I’m often disappointed by these sort of “tips”, in that while they may be interesting, they aren’t necessarily psychologically valid. This tip is the equivalent of a yo-yo diet, coupled with a lot of highly cognitive features where people are “thinking” about their spending and discovering “wow I can live without this, which almost never actually happens over any long term.

    What you want is a general behavioral change that turns into a habit. That is usually a product of repeated minor improvements. Take dieting as a perfect example: not eating once a week is unlikely to produce real, sustainable eating change. Instead, you cut down on your calories a little every day. You make changes to your diet, substituting one thing for another and then creating a habit out of that.

    A potentially more valid way of doing something like this is setting goals that involve smaller decreases, and aren’t targeted at a global spend (like purchasing at all, since purchasing anything then “breaks” that goal for the day). You want to cut back a little, not completely, since completely is unlikely to be something you can do over the long term. Try giving up one of your cups of coffee per day and replacing it with some free water from the water cooler. Consider exchanging one meal out with one meal in. Cut back in small, manageable chunks and make them part of your habit, so that they are no longer changes but just the way you are used to doing things. Then you can cut back a little more, until you are on the level you want to be at.

  36. Julie – Today is only the 11th. Plus, he never said he was going to post a new tip *everyday*.

  37. Julie, if this site isn’t doing it for you, please go somewhere else or stop commenting. Stop being a troll.

    I’ve been considering this for a while, and it’s encouraging to hear that it works for some people.

  38. Actually, ras, that’s exactly what he said on October 30:

    “This starts tomorrow, Saturday, November 1st. Check back to http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com every day for the newest tip.”

    Oh, and the tips are largely bullshit. Gas price hedge fund? FFS…

  39. Sorry ras, my comment was directed at Carla.

  40. Thanks Spork, I see it now. I dont know, maybe he will make up for lost time. LOL

  41. The next level of saving is when that Sunday comes along and you are out grocery shopping you are getting some money back from your purchases. How can it be done? Well i got a chase freedom cash back credit card from cardz.com and i get 3% cash back on grocery stores, gas, some restaurants and 1% on all else. I just use one card for all purchases, pay one bill at the end of the month and reap the benefits without changing anything else. Got the card here: http://www.cardz.com/Compare_Credit_Cards/Cash_Back

  42. Although I didn’t technically do a “no-spending day”, what this tip encouraged me to do was to defer my spending one day in order to combine a trip with another necessary trip. It meant that I had my son buy school lunch on Monday, as I didn’t have much in the house to send with him as I waited to grocery shop so that I could combine that trip with my dr’s appt on Monday. But I figure he will buy school lunch a day here and there, so that still fit in the plan. And since I live in a rural area where everything is far away, saving that trip is big deal, it saves me gas, improves my carbon footprint, gives me more time at home, etc. Participating in this exercise has just given me a little extra incentive to actually accomplish these things. I have enjoyed the positive comments and feel like these encourage me to keep working at it. Thanks!

  43. Hey all-

    We at Wesabe have been following Ramit’s challenge this month (I am the community manager at Wesabe). You can see a very similar debate about helpful versus non helpful spending/saving tips in our “Save $1000 In A Month” group (https://www.wesabe.com/groups/4-saving-up/discussions/2703-save-1000-in-30-days-can-you-do-it).

    I wanted to leave a comment regarding No Spend Day as a handful of members at Wesabe are following a “No Spend Month”. A few people started this right before Halloween and people have joining since then. It’s been really successful and cool to see how supportive people have been in helping each other reach this goal.

    Anyways, just thought you might find it interesting: https://www.wesabe.com/groups/4-saving-up/discussions/2579-no-spend-month

    Cheers and good luck to all those following the challenge!
    Allese

  44. so i’ve been sick for the last three days (which, coincidentally, prevented me from spending any money!) haha.

    my no-spend day each week is going to be wednesdays. i’ll bring my lunch, come to work, and go straight home. if i have to get groceries on a wednesday for some reason, i’ll make my no spend day monday of that week…i figure by accidentally having THREE no-spend days this week from being sick, i saved a good $15!

  45. Julie, I understand your angst and know where you’re coming from. I too disagree with some of the advice Ramit has dispersed (especially #6). However, you ought to keep in mind that, obvious though these tips may be, they are being read by thousands of people. Some of the others out there never considered doing the things Ramit is proposing, and his blog helps them. Constructive criticism is always welcome, though – so next time you disagree with Ramit’s advice or think you can do better – post a tip of your own! :) (I did so when commenting on one of the earlier articles – I suggested buying a video game console to avoid going out.)

  46. [...] their product. A “No Spending Day” seems a great little way to counter that mentality. (Read it at I Will Teach You to Be [...]

  47. Other than gas and groceries, I hardly spend a nickel on MOST days. This one is way too easy for me. :)

  48. I am very intrigued by Jesse’s “I can’t not spend money where I work” comment. Hmm…

    I liked this tip, personally.

    For those of you who can’t imagine it because of the commute issue…note that he’s got a “no-spending DAY” not a week (you can fill up your car the day before). And if you need to pay for public transportation, most places I’ve ever lived allow you to buy monthly passes and such.

    Or you could always carpool.

    As far as the “Julie vs. everyone else” argument…it’s a matter of perspective. We’re solidly middle class now, so most of these tips would be very good for many of my friends. They eat out regularly and don’t think about spending at all.

    OTOH, I grew up poor in a very rural area. So Julie’s life of grocery shopping and doing all your errands 2x a month (or less), and staying home the rest of the time…that was the norm for me growing up, and still is the norm for many of my family members back home.

    My sister and parents already carry lunches every day, shop 1-2x a month only, don’t have cell phones, etc. But my brother and his wife could really use these tips.

  49. Larry Lennhoff Link to this comment

    This is the easiest of all the tips for me to implement. As an observant Jew, from an hour before sunset on Friday to an hour after sunset on Saturday I’m obligated not to spend money, among other things. The problem is that the run up to the Sabbath can be very expensive! :>)

  50. [...] Shower You Have Time for Personal Finance. After you’re done reading those then check out the “No Spending Day” idea posted over at I Will Teach You To Be Rich (and don’t forget to check out his other tips [...]

  51. [...] in your savings challenge Optimize your cellphone bill Use gas prices to become your own hedge fund Create a “No Spending” day once a week Implement the A La Carte Method Only buy new things when replacing something old Use the free [...]

  52. My SO and I set Mondays as our no-spending day. It doesn’t save us much yet- just the money we use on vending machines.

    This tip: $5
    Current total: $225

  53. This is related and usually leads to no spending days each week.

    All my monthly bills like the mortgage and utilities are auto drafted so all I have to do is make sure there is enough at the beginning of the month to cover it all. My part of my January income is put into the autodrafted account for February’s bills so I’m never in a pinch come the first of the month.

    Then each week on a Monday (this is important) I give myself an allowance of sorts (for me it’s $100) to spend on gas, groceries, entertainment and so on. Since I usually want to go out on the weekend I’m very careful how I spend that $100 because I want enough to have for Saturday night. If I have cash left over I carry that over to the next week. For example if I have $10 left over one week I only take out $90 the next Monday giving me again $100 to spend that week.

    This all but eliminates my need for a credit or debit card although I have them so I don’t carry them with me at all eliminating most impulse buys. It also helps out the small local businesses I like to patronize by not using a card that costs them money to process. Plus it feels good to have some actual cash in my hand. Call me old school ;)

  54. I chose two consecutive “no spending” days this week. Instead of going to a cafe and buying a cappucino and muffin because I was bored, I spent my lunch hour walking through the snow covered park downtown. I may have only saved about 7 dollars, but the crisp winter air made me feel refreshed after sitting at my desk all day!

  55. [...] to Ramit/I Will Teach You To Be Rich’s suggestions to Create a “No Spending” day once a week, Go cash-only for 15 to 30 days, and Pack lunches for the rest of the week from his Save $1,000 in [...]

  56. I went to the mall to make a return. That in itself is new behavior on my part! In the past I would tell myself I needed to return something, but never got around to it or worse I would los3 the receipt, the item or both! That meant paying for something that I would never use.
    Anyway, back to the mall. I made the return quickly and decided to shop. I looked at the “clearance” racks to find something cheap. Then I woke up and realized that I did not need to buy anything at all! Wondering around a mall looking to spend money with no purpose is foolish… and very expensive. With that I left the mall and returned home to cook a homemade meal and then work out!

  57. [...] Tip #5: Optimize your cellphone bill Tip #6: Use gas prices to become your own hedge fund Tip #7: Create a “No Spending” day once a week Tip #8: Implement the A La Carte Method Tip #9: Only buy new things when replacing something old [...]