It happens to the best of us. You buy a few things here and a few more there, and next thing you know… you are way over your monthly budget. Since there’s nothing you can do now, you can try to remedy the situation by making sure you spend less for the next month.

Going on a spending freeze for an entire month may seem drastic, but it can help you fix your finances and get you back on track to sticking to your budget. So if you’re ready to avoid spending for a month, here’s what you need to do.

Freezing the Spending

1. Dissect your budget

You’re going to need to be honest with yourself, because you will need to determine which items are really needs, and which are simply wants. Common budget categories that count as wants are dining out, entertainment and clothing. While you may think your fancy cable package or Netflix is a need, it’s not. You can place a hold on it for a month and survive without it.

2. Rework your budget

Not that you have determined which bills are necessary to survive on you will come up with a new budget. If you did step one correctly, you should have some money left over. Decide what you want to do with that amount. You can put it towards a debt, start an emergency fund or put it in a vacation or holiday fund. What you can’t do with it is spend it. You’re avoiding spending remember?

3. Ask for help

Adhering to something strict is always easier when you have someone to help you. Ask your significant other, a family member or a friend to cut out the unnecessary spending with you.

4. Plan your meals

Chances are you have much more usable food in your home that you think you do. Start by cleaning out your pantry and freezer and make a list of what staples you have. Use this list to plan your meals for the next month. Not only will this help you use up things that have been hiding in your cupboards, but you will be doing less grocery shopping over the month because of it.

5. Look for things to do

Just because you are not spending money doesn’t mean you are stuck doing absolutely nothing the whole time. There are many ways to have fun for little to no money. Invite friends over for a potluck and cook something using the food in your pantry. Borrow books or movies from the local library. Go to the beach, park or go hiking.

6. Mix up your wardrobe

If you are accustom to buying new clothes often, a spending freeze on your fashion account can be a downer. To get you through the month, try playing with the pieces you already own. If you always wear this shirt with those pants, mix it up and wear a different bottom. You can add accessories and switch up shoes too.

7. Keep track of your progress

Actually seeing how much you are saving can be the motivation you need to keep pressing on. Tape a chart to your refrigerator or wall and track the dollars you are saving.

10 Additional Tips

Once your month is over, you don’t want to revert back to spending unnecessarily. Here are more tips to help you curb the spending habit.

  1. Don’t window shop. When you can’t spend money, nothing will tempt you more than window shopping. If you need to, completely avoid the malls for the month.
  2. Have a set goal. It can be anything. It could be that you want to finally take that vacation. Keeping your goal in mind can help keep you from spending too much.
  3. Ask before you buy. When you want to buy something that is not a necessity, ask yourself if you really need it.
  4. Wait a day. Or two. Or three. If you want to purchase something big, always give it a few days. After waiting on it, decide if the item is still something you really need to have. Chances are, it’s not.
  5. Shop with cash. Using cash lets you actually see the money leaving your wallet. Using a credit card can’t do this. It’s a harsh reminder of how much you are spending.
  6. Freeze your credit cards. Literally. Put your credit cards in a cup of water and throw them in the freezer. If you are tempted to buy something that you would need your card for, you will need to wait for the cards to thaw out. In most cases, just knowing the amount of waiting you are facing is enough to stop you from using the cards.
  7. Keep your checkbook balanced. Constantly monitoring your account will help you know exactly how much you are spending, and how much money you have left.
  8. Bills first, fun second. Always pay your bills before the weekend hits. This reduces the chances of you dipping into your bill money.
  9. Block shopping websites. If you have trouble staying away from online shopping, use URL blocking software to block the sites on your computer.
  10. Challenge yourself. Instead of playing the game of hunting down the perfect pair of shoes, play a different game with yourself. Challenge yourself to see how little you can spend at the grocery store. See how long you can go without purchasing something that is unnecessary. Each time you play, challenge yourself to reduce the dollar amount or lengthen the time.

If you find you have overspent, you can remedy the situation by going on a spending freeze for a month. Avoiding spending money on anything unnecessary for an entire month will help you get back on track and also break the spending habit you are starting to form. Use these steps, and the helpful tips, to avoid spending too much money.

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