Are you looking for a way to save cash? Want to bring in MORE income without getting a second job? A spending freeze may be just what you need. Below you will read tips we used for our 6-month spending freeze.
After all, the bills are paid; we only have $100 of “extra” money. Yet, today we live a debt-free life and hope to pay off our farmhouse mortgage in a few years.
What exactly is a spending freeze?
A spending freeze is when you cut out all unnecessary expenses for a certain period. This can be anything from eating out to entertainment, travel, and shopping.
For us, we did a complete 6-month spending freeze where we only spent money on essentials like food, gas, and bills.
You don’t spend any money that is not necessary.
This, my friend, is the hard part. What is a necessary purchase, you may ask?
My husband and I only had $100 for the entire month after our necessary purchases. So So, I didn’t include groceries as necessary.
Why? I learned how to extreme coupon and find the best clearance deals at stores. So I could get stuff for $10 a week when I needed to.
Heck, we knew we would eat ramen noodles or mac and cheese if we had to.
Read or Pin for Later: Our Debt Free Story- How We Pay off our debt in two years.
So how do you start a spending freeze?
We were already living a frugal lifestyle. However, our heartstrings kept being tugged at a house with land. So we lived in a 1200 sq. foot house we completely remodeled and made nice and cozy.
I was free, ranging my six chickens across the street from Walmart. It’s always been our desire to own some land out in the country.
We just paid off our debt, except for our mortgage. Things were comfortable.
As Tyler Perry puts it in his new and fantastic book– “Trusting Your Soul GPS.” When you are in tune with opportunities God is giving you, you do not want to pass them by. But unfortunately, it often keeps us from trusting God or believing that we deserve our heart’s desires.
It took my husband and me almost a year to feel we deserved to live in the country.
So we started house hunting listening to that nudge. It wasn’t without mistakes and not following our soul GPS, but once we began to tune in, we landed upon our perfect farmhouse with land at a great price point which led us to believe God cares for us.
To purchase our farmhouse we had to sell the one we were living in. We couldn’t go contingent on the sale of our home. We were living on one income and now paying for two mortgages and double utility bills.
A spending freeze was our only option to achieve this dream of owning a house in the country.
Related: THE CONCLUSION TO OUR SPENDING FREEZE AND THE BEST LESSON I LEARNED IN THOSE 100 DAYS!
FIGURE OUT YOUR WHY
To have a practical spending freeze, you need to figure out your why, which may not be pretty. We often go on about life at such a fast pace because we don’t want to stop and think about our why. However, it has to be done for you to achieve success.
Know why you need to go on a spending freeze. Write out your goal of what this will bring to you and or your family. Remember that you are on your way to a new start.
What happened in the past CAN stay in the past. As long as you choose to leave it there.
FIGURE OUT YOUR BUDGET
The key to a spending freeze is to only pay for what you have to. Those things, if you don’t, someone will come knocking.
They are typically the following:
- Utility bills
- Credit Cards
- Car Payments
- Health bills or any other monthly bill that is sent to you for payment
Then you need to realize things you won’t be buying during your spending freeze.
They are typically the following:
- Home Decor
Oh, the list could go on and on. Everything that is NOT on the first list is off-limits to buy.
You can learn the exact steps to start a budget in our post here.
MAKE A TIMELINE
You must know how long it takes to implement your spending freeze, or you will burn out. The enemy and our culture will be surrounding you with temptations to buy and feel entitled to have new and shiny things.
When you know you only have a certain amount of days left, you can keep yourself motivated to reach your end goal.
PLACE THE GOAL IN A VISIBLE PLACE
I had to think about our farmhouse daily, even when I saw a fantastic deal that was 85% off. I had to walk by. If I let myself slip and buy that 85% off a great deal, even if it were $5, I know I would slowly justify all the other amazing deals I saw.
The truth is, there are ALWAYS deals. You just have to look in the right places at the right time. If you are on a spending freeze, this is NOT the right time.
To help keep you on track, put your goal up in the fridge, by your front do, or anywhere you can remind yourself d why you are doing this spending free. e?
STAY AWAY FROM SOCIAL MEDIA
If you are serious about a spending freeze social media is probably a trigger. In an instant, we can see something new that someone we probably don’t know has.
We think, “But she is a stay at home mom, and she just got her hair done.“ We tend to forget there is a story for every picture that we do not know about. Avoid social media if it’s a trigger or puts you in a spiral funk.
You don’t want to be the person going around complaining about your spending freeze to others. Instead, you want to set an example and inspire others to see the strength it took to achieve your goal.
MEAL PLAN & CUT DOWN ON FOOD COSTS
Like it or not, you are going to need to meal plan. Groceries are expensive, and going out to eat is worse. Therefore, you must get creative and learn how to make a grocery list.
I recommend learning how to coupon. ( Hey, if you aren’t going out for entertainment, this will give you something to do!) At the very least, only buy items in the sale flyers.
If you hate the thought of meal planning, grabs my favorite meal planning app. It’s all done right from your phone. Buy the cheapest cuts of meat. It’s best to ask your butcher for cheaper cuts to meet your needs. The quality isn’t less and often tastes better, making it easier to cook.
Use Eggs, Tuna, and ground beef frequently. These are affordable, and you can stretch them. You can extend ground beef by adding beans, breading and more.
Drink water. Don’t buy extra juice, soda, etc.
Make your snacks. Bring your lunch to work. Then, invest in a coffee maker and make your coffee at home. The Ninja coffee brewer is one of my favorites. We’ve had it for over five years now and still love it. You can choose to make a single cup, whole pot, iced, or even a latte with it.
We got ours during BJ’s Black Friday deals.
Shop at cheaper stores like Aldi or Lidl. If I’m not shopping at BJ’s, I’m shopping at Aldi. I know shopping at Aldi is a great deal, and I don’t have to worry about only buying things on sale with a coupon like I do when shopping at my local grocery store, Tops Markets.
Find free or cheap entertainment options
There are plenty of things you can do for fun that don’t cost any money. So get outside and go on a hike, picnic in the park, or visit a nearby city you haven’t explored.
Get creative with your gifts
If you have Birthdays or holidays, get creative with your gift-giving. Instead of buying something new, try making a homemade gift or giving a heartfelt card.
Downsize your living situation
If you’re serious about saving money, you may want to consider downsizing your living situation. This could mean getting rid of your car and opting for public transportation or moving into a smaller home or apartment.
Have a plan for your extra money
One of the best motivators for sticking to a spending freeze is knowing what you will do with the money you save. Whether you’re saving up for a down payment on a house or taking a dream vacation, having a specific goal in mind will help you stay on track.
Cancel Streaming Services like Netflix, Hulu, etc.
If you want to save money, canceling your streaming services is a great way to do it. For example, we saved over $50 a month by excluding Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.
Of course, this tip is not for everyone. If you find that you absolutely cannot live without your streaming services, then, by all means, keep them. Just know there are ways to save money even if you have them. For example, we used a TV antenna to get our primary channels, plus newer intelligent TVs come with over 100 channels now.
For example, we still had access to many free movies and TV shows through our library’s Hoopla app. So even though we didn’t have Netflix, we still had plenty of entertainment options. In addition, Youtube is easy and free for kids to be entertained without the popular streaming services.
Do I dare even mention Tiktok? I know there are nights I’ve sat down with the intent to watch a TV show, and I’ve scrolled Tiktok the entire time instead. But, of course, Tiktok doesn’t cost extra, either!
Follow my coupon Tiktok account here or my Frugal Living Tiktok Account here.
Go through your Amazon account and ensure you’ve canceled all those free trials you may have signed up for. It’s easy to forget about free trials.
On the other hand, another way to save money on streaming services is always to take advantage of free trials. For example, Hulu offers a 7-day free trial, so we would sign up for that when we wanted to watch something specific. Then, once the trial was over, we would cancel it.
Don’t buy any new clothes unless it’s a must.
We have kids, and boy, are the leggings made cheaply today. The knees always get a hole after about three months. If your kids are going through all their clothes, by all means, you need to have that in the budget, but thrift stores and online thrift stores should be the first spot to look.
Adults can go a month or more without a new outfit.
Answer the Question, “What Makes You Want to Spend?”
This is a question you must ask yourself if you want to successfully stick to a spending freeze. For us, it was helpful to know that we tended to spend money when we were bored or feeling down.
So, we made a point of finding other things to do when those feelings hit. We would go for walks, call a friend, or read a book instead of going out and spending money. It’s also important to be aware of your triggers to avoid them.
For example, if you know, you always spend money when you go to the mall, try to avoid going there altogether.
Or, if you have a hard time resisting buying things online, then make sure to delete your credit card information from all of your shopping accounts. But, again, the key is to be aware of the things that make you want to spend so you can avoid them.
Change your mindset.
You can’t start every day proclaiming we only have $5 to spend today. Instead, start your day thankful, and be resourceful. What do you not need today? How can you not spend any money? It’s just a season. This is not your life forever if you start making these changes today.
One of the best ways to save money is to determine if something is a need or want.
For example, do you need that new pair of shoes? Or can you get by with the ones you have?
A lot of times, we think we need something when we don’t. So before you make a purchase, ask yourself if it’s something you genuinely need.
Some things may be considered a need but can still be bought used. For example, you may need a new car but don’t necessarily need a new one. Buying a used car can save you thousands of dollars.
Another example is clothing. You may need new clothes sometimes, but you don’t need to buy brand-new clothes all the time. Hitting up a consignment shop or thrift store can save you a lot of money.
Automate Your Savings
One of the best ways to save money is to automate your savings. This means you would have a certain amount of money automatically transferred into your savings account each month.
This is a great way to save because it’s out of sight and out of mind. You don’t have to think about it or consciously decide to save each month.
It’s also a great way to stay on track because you’re less likely to spend the money if it’s not readily available.
Talk to your bank or financial advisor if you’re unsure how to automate your savings. They can help you set it up, so it happens automatically each month.
GIVE UP YOUR WANTS AND GIVE YOUR TIME
It will be a challenge for sure not to spend money. Mainly depending on personality type. I love to shop. I love getting deals and looking for them. So not grabbing the deals was a muscle I slowly built.
I’m so thankful today that I did. I’m not looking back at our six-month spending freeze saying that it was a waste. On the contrary, it was one of the best things we went through.
When you start to feel the self-pity party coming to you, look to see how you can give to others. It takes the entitlement away. If you can even read about others, who have overcome hardships or struggles, you will see that your want of a new pair of shoes is quite silly.
Don’t forget to tell yourself this is temporary. We serve a God who loves us so much. He doesn’t want us to be miserable every day.
He has a good plan for our lives. He wants to see you succeed. So So, I’m cheering you on as well.
A spending freeze is hard, but it is so worth it.
Consider this verse from Phillippians 3:13
Brethrren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.
- THE CONCLUSION TO OUR SPENDING FREEZE AND THE BEST LESSON I LEARNED IN THOSE 100 DAYS!
- How to Live Below Your Means
The Meals We Ate During Our Spending Freeze
I first created a just over 3-week dinner meal plan based on what we have in our freezer.
*Side note my husband is a hunter, and we have chickens.
I believe many of you could take a look in your freezer/cupboards and come up with meals without even looking to see what is on sale at the store.
Below is the menu I came up with with all items we have in our house.
- Related: The List of Must-Have Pantry Items
Here are the 22 meals:
- Chicken Pot Pies- I roasted a chicken and we have more than half left
- Ham and Scalloped Potatoes
- Venison Pockets with homemade cole slaw
- Clam Chowder
- Pancho’s Casserole( use venison)
- Homemade Pizza
- Christmas Gift of homemade soup in a jar
- Baked French Toast
- Chilli with cornbread( use venison)
- Venison Stroganoff
- Chicken Thighs with Sauteed Green Beans( Stocked up when they were $0.79/lb for thighs at Tops)
- Chicken Noodle Soup- use leftover chicken thigh meat
- Homemade Pizza
- Venison Sausage Soup
- Penne with Bacon + Spinach
- Chicken Lo Mein
- Baked Ziti
- Venison Stew
- Omelets with Spinach and toast
- Fish Sticks and French Fries
- Spaghetti with homemade garlic bread
- Ham and Cheese Pockets( I made these when we had leftover ham, and then they threw them in the freezer)
For lunch, it will be lots of ham sandwiches. I made a huge ham! This means I can only buy needs. I am anticipating it to be milk, flour, bananas, & apples. BTW- I bought milk at Walmart for $2.19 this week. I was allowing myself the convenience of buying milk at BJ’s and paying $2.59. Not anymore. Every penny counts 🙂
The thought that will get me through is knowing these times will pass. I do not have to live on a $100 a month for the rest of my life.
I’m working my spending muscle so that down the road I can buy something that brings me joy- debt and guilt free.
If you are on a tight budget, put your thoughts of wants aside. In reality, our culture tricks us into thinking we need many things.
We don’t. We have all our basics. We can cut back and build our spending muscle to have more in the future. Not that more means more stuff- but more as in contentment.
If you are on a tight grocery budget, you may be eating food that others would turn their head around in disgust, boxed Mac & Cheese, Cereal, and whatever else our culture says is terrible for us at the moment.
But it’s a season. It will pass.
What are you striving for with your current spending freeze?
Tuesday 30th of November 2021
Why on earth cut the groceries? I am really sorry for you guys!
Wednesday 1st of December 2021
This was one of the best things to happen to us. Here we are mortgage free debt-free and living our best life :)
Monday 26th of August 2019
Great suggestions and ideas. I have started ordering my groceries online with Walmart. They don’t charge any fees and they do the sopping for you. I am so bad at impulse buys so I stay out of the grocery store. I order my groceries on Friday and since there is a Walmart 5 minutes from my work, it saves me so much time and MONEY. If I don’t go in the grocery store I can’t be tempted to buy extras.
Thursday 18th of July 2019
Your list of nescessitys did not include health insurance or car a nd house one I spend $2 a meal but there is also has detergent and paper goods This a good idea but I live on $1000.00 a month a with over a 1/4 going to health ins I could do with some idea sy
Saturday 20th of July 2019
Hey Ann we do not pay for our car, as we were debt free when we started this spending freeze. Health insurance is taken weekly out of my husband's paycheck so it's not a new added expense when we had an extra $100 a month. I mentioned in the post but I'll mention it again it was a $100 a month after all bills, which would include health insurance. But again we are debt free so we didn't have any credit card or car loans to pay.
Thursday 7th of February 2019
I really enjoyed your post about spending freeze. We have been married 40 years and raised 3 daughters. Most of the time was spent living on an island for $29k per year. We learned how to budget and eat a home as the restaurants were far too expensive. Our girls are grown and we have two grandsons. We still shop sometimes like we are hoarding our food (we bought much of our food from mainland much cheaper), even though we live on mainland now. I always make a weekly menu and many time will just eat from our pantry and freezer. We are debt free, putting EVERYTHING away to hopefully retire in a couple of years. I hope other young people read this article and put some of their life into perspective and to what is really important. There is truly a difference between a WANT and a NEED
Thursday 7th of February 2019
Thank you so much Beverly. I love your story and am intrigued to know more about island living. Meal planning just becomes a way of living, doesn't it? I am so glad you are still focusing on what matters.
Saturday 24th of February 2018
Thank you so much for writing this. I've recently become a stay at home mother and have tried to implement some of your suggestions. The only problem is, is that I am constantly falling off of the bandwagon. For example, I go grocery shopping every two weeks, and I will try to empty everything in my pantry and every thing in my freezer to avoid spending hundreds of dollars at the grocery store, and every thing will be fine for a month and then bam! A huge amount of groceries are needed. Not because I ran out of the staples, but just because that's what happens. I've been trying to step up my game, but it's been tough. I'm keeping the faith though! This inspired me some more.
Sunday 25th of February 2018
I am so glad you enjoyed it. Yes, grocery shopping can be so hard. It sounds like you are doing the right thing, using what you have first is key. Maybe look at that big trip you are making and see what items are costing the most and if there is any way to cut back on it. Maybe those items are at their rock bottom price when your pantry is fuller, but it could be worth it to grab at sale price, ya know? If you are grocery shopping every two weeks or even once a month that will always be a bigger dent in the budget too. I have a post on my other site about grocery shopping once a month that comes with free printables if interested here is the link-->https://www.mybjswholesale.com/2017/06/how-grocery-shop-month.html/