While you may be familiar with No-Shave November, there is another “No” campaign during the month that is a bit more beneficial to your bank account — No-Spend November. The concept is relatively simple: Only spend money on necessities during the month of November. Even if you don’t splurge during the holiday-heavy month of December, No-Spend November is the perfect way to save money for 30 days.
Before embarking on this noble quest, you must set some ground rules, since what qualifies as a necessity depends on who you are. Unless you are truly a blessed person who has no debt, then I (personally) qualify necessities as: Bills, food from a grocery store (or the equivalent), commute to work, and anything health-related. Unfortunately, banks, your landlord, and student loan companies are not known to honor No-Spend November, but this list of tips can help you do your best at eliminating all other spending so that the rest of your year can be (relatively) flush with cash.
1. Remove temptations.
Do your favorite stores send you emails about sales? Do you get notifications about daily deals? Unsubscribe from all of those before November. You probably wouldn’t have bought those items or experiences in the first place. And remember this mantra: Free is cheaper than cheap.
2. Plan out the big events.
If you already know that you’re hosting Thanksgiving, then your food bills are inevitably going to be higher. But you can still keep yourself in check by not getting any new decorations — no matter how adorably festive those turkey salt and pepper shakers are. If you are going to a wedding, don’t buy a new dress or shoes — get creative with what you already have in your closet. And maybe skip the post-wedding hotel room if the distance isn’t too far from home.
3. Get to coupon clipping.
Maybe you won’t be “clipping” as much as loading coupons onto your supermarket rewards card, but either way, don’t be like me and forget to use these saving gems. And yet again, only buy the stuff you were already going to purchase. Just because you have a coupon for Cheez-Its doesn’t mean you need them.
4. Fight cravings.
I was raised in a home where going out to eat was the norm, not the exception, so I often require restaurant food or takeout. Yet, that’s one of the easiest ways to throw away money. Avoid the fine dining and pizza and make your own healthier meals with ingredients from a food store or farmer’s market.
5. Take stock of your gift cards.
One little workaround to the rule of no restaurants or shopping is by checking out what gift cards you have tucked away. As long as you have enough money on them to pay for your entire purchase, use them! It will make you less stir-crazy this November and might even help you get a jump on holiday shopping.
6. Cut back on your vices.
In the words of Brad Neely’s Wizard People, Dear Reader, I’m a pot of coffee by day, bottle of wine by night type of gal. If you’re in the same boat, you’re going to need to cut back on imbibing those nonessentials, which means no visiting coffee shops or bars in November. Your home coffee pot is going to become your best friend and if you already have a bottle of wine (or five) in stock, then you can drink those over the month. Just don’t go on a liquor store sweep beforehand since overspending in October defeats the purpose of saving money in November.
7. Change your social scene.
If you are already a fan of low-key weekends with Netflix, then No-Spend November is gonna be your type of month. (Just ignore that you paid for the Netflix subscription.) Otherwise, you’ll have to forgo any happy hours or nights out unless you plan on drinking water. To keep my sanity, I’ll be using those movie gift cards (callback to number 4!) I’ve stockpiled away and bringing my own popcorn.
8. Put on those walking shoes.
I understand that November isn’t always the most temperate month if you live in a place with seasons, but when the weather is cooperating, walk to where you need to go rather than pay for gas, public transportation, a cab, or Uber.
Most of these steps are functional, but don’t underestimate the importance of
body language preparing yourself emotionally as well — being in the right no-spend mindset will help the 30 days of November breeze by in thrifty bliss.