No spend days

No spend days (NSD) are an idea popularised by several budgeting website to help people limit their unnecessary or mindless spending. I thought it was just a gimmick that didn’t make much practical difference but I made a New Year’s resolution this year to have two a week and I have surprised myself and kept to it because it works.

It’s a very simple idea: you don’t spend any money for a day. Turns out it’s quite hard to do especially if you have got into the habit of being loose with your spending. That quick bottle of water or just nip into the shops for bread or add a few more items to the online shopping basket to get free postage all add up. I use the legacy software Microsoft Money to track and do basic analysis of my spending and I could see that I was spending more and more small amounts on random crap on almost every day of the week. But I couldn’t seem to get a grip and actually pin myself down to cut it out.

When I started the two NSDs a week I found it surprisingly tough. Even the swift in and out of a newsagents for a snack is couple of pounds saved. The other day I didn’t buy an ice cream in a park because I didn’t want to spoil a NSD. I am lactose intolerant so this saved me some gut pain too! I do plan around NSDs and save online shopping for days when I have to go to the supermarket. That means that I do much less spontaneous online shopping. The biggest change has been how frequently I go to the supermarket. It really is true for me that the more often I go, the more I spend on unnecessary things. Something catches my eye or I see an offer on something I usually buy so I then buy more. My groceries spend has come down a fair bit which is very welcome.

What you count as a NSD is up to you. For example, I don’t ‘count’ direct debits. So if on the 1st of the month I have money coming out of my bank account by direct debit but none by debit card and no credit card or cash spending then that is still a NSD to me. Also, I count online supermarket shops on the day that the shopping is put through the till, i.e. the delivery day, rather than the day I order it or do amendments to the order. It doesn’t matter what ‘rules’ you use but it makes things easier if you are clear to yourself about what you want and are consistent.

NSDs are just a little game to play with yourself to help you manage your spending and budgeting. They make something that is usually tedious a bit more satisfying and are well worth a try to help manage that aspect of your life.

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