December has arrived and Wesabe’s first “No Spend Month” has finished with a bang. As we told you earlier this week, the brains behind the Month, CymbidiumKelly, was featured in USA Today and on the Today Show and CNBC to talk about how her family is shaping up their finances.
Kelly launched her “No Spend Month” last month in Wesabe Groups as a way to get a hold on her family’s spending and pay off debt. She was inspired to start her project because she’d “have the support of other Wesabeans. I knew it would keep me honest.” She felt that tracking her spending in the Wesabe community was great way to hold herself accountable.
Within a day of Kelly’s first post, a flood of other Wesabeans followed suit, discussing ways to cut their spending to bare necessities. They also began posting their progress in the “No Spend Month” discussion. Between the faltering economy and upcoming holiday season, many agreed that November was an ideal thirty-day stretch to buck up on discipline and get serious about curbing spending.
Member Ilovetea decided to join after seeing her 401(k) value plummet 48% and Wesabean AmilcarKabral began his month after losing his job. He wrote that though the month of November was already going to be tight, not spending “is more fun when you do it intentionally and not as a reaction.”
Member Maribeth said,“I think this is a great idea…however, I am frightened at the idea of holding myself accountable. I’m going to start on Sunday, November 26. I think eating/drinking out will be my main challenge. I’m sure most of you can relate. Football Sundays at the bar are a fall tradition. However, when I think of which goals I can accomplish within this month (saving $500 for an emergency fund, saving for a down payment on a house, cash for Christmas presents), I think it will be extremely rewarding in the end. This is one of the many great things about Wesabe. I continue to learn and never feel like I am going at it alone.”
Lit added, “We have been trying to drop our debt load by $1,200 a month for the last four months. Have not succeeded yet but this… might help. November 2008 here we go!”. And, QwnofCash wrote, “Wow!! What a great idea! I think it’s a good opportunity for all of us to discipline ourselves and to prepare our families to endure this dark period…”
While many of those who followed the No Spend Month reported plumper bank accounts, their results far exceeded an extra wad of cash. Bullshalo13 wrote that the month helped her “realize how much money I spend on things I don’t need.”
GirlNextDoor shared that the participating in the No Spend Month drastically changed her thought process around spending money: “Instead of asking ‘can I afford this right now?’ (to which the answer was usually ‘yes’ as my wants tend to be relatively inexpensive), I ask myself ‘Do I really need this? Do I have a use for this? Is this going to add value to my life?’ – the answer is not so clearly ‘yes’ for these questions!”
Though GirlNextDoor has always tracked her money, the No Spend Month helped her curb impulse spending. Instead of tracking where her money was going (after the fact), she’s consciously thinking about where it will be going ahead of time.
Similarly, KristenR1010 reported that she “didn’t realize how much my little snacks have added up. It seems like nothing to run to the corner and get a cup of coffee or a bagel, but I’ve saved so much money this week by not going! As for clothes shopping, it’s been hard to resist the holiday sales that are starting, but I’ve managed not to spend a dime. I’m taking my ‘no-spend zone’ all the way until I have to buy a few (inexpensive) Christmas presents. The best Christmas present for myself will be when I save enough money to pay off the next credit card!”
And after the month, creator Kelly shared that her biggest realization was how much money you can save from all of those little purchases you make without thinking. “I learned that I am fairly dishonest with myself about money, thinking a want is a need or thinking we will make up for (indulgences by saving more) next month,” she said.
Participants also found themselves with a lot more time on their hands. Not spending money means forgoing activities like happy hours, nights at the movie theater, dinners out, and shopping with friends. GirlNextDoor commented, “Since I was actively trying not to spend money, I avoided situations where I would spend money as much as possible- which left me with more time at home. I finally took the leap and started a personal finance blog, which is something I’ve been contemplating for 6 months!”
Desertrat wrote that she and her significant other “both now have library cards, and we’ve taken to going on walks and playing board games, something we’ve also gotten our friends to do.”
Jessie88 shared that she and her fiancée are “curling up with hot coco and a good book or magazine, even a nice movie”. Like Desertrat, Jessie88 and her fiancée started becoming more acquainted with their neighborhood and parks. “Heck, we go swing…and I like to walk barefoot through the sand. It’s free, we also go there to look at the stars,” she said.
All seemed to agree that spending money can be a great distraction from more meaningful activities. Kelly wrote that her family often used to find themselves “going somewhere we can spend money when we need to get out of the house. The biggest thing I learned from the No Spend Month was to stay at home! We have so much to do and that needs to be done there, and, we spend the largest percentage of money on our home, so it makes sense to enjoy it as much as possible. I also realized that if we’re paying for something we should enjoy it! We have Internet access at home, a Wii, DVDs, etc. We were able to entertain ourselves and the kids with what was on hand.”
Interested in starting your own No Spend Month? Tune in Monday to read the tips and tricks of those who have successfully completed it!