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. We only have $100 of “extra” money after all bills were paid. 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?
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. I didn’t include groceries as a necessary. Why? I learned how to extreme coupon and find the best clearance deals at stores. 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.
So how do you start a spending freeze?
We already were living a frugal lifestyle. Our heartstrings kept being tugged at a house with land. We lived in a 1200 sq. foot house that 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 from his new and amazing book- “Trusting Your Soul GPS.” When you are in tune with opportunities God is giving you, you do not want to pass them by. Many times fear keeps us from trusting God, or believing that we deserve our hearts desires.
It took my husband and I almost a year to feel we deserved to be living out here 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 started to tune in we landed upon our perfect farmhouse with land, at a price point that was incredible and lead us more to believe God cares for us.
So in order 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.
FIGURE OUT YOUR WHY
To really have an effective spending freeze you need to figure out your why and it may not be pretty. Many times we go on about life in such a fast pace because we don’t want to stop and think about our why. 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 real key to a spending freeze is to only pay for the things you have to. Those things if you don’t someone will come a 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.
MAKE A TIMELINE
You have to know how long 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 GOAL IN A VISIBLE PLACE
I had to think about our farmhouse daily even when I saw an amazing deal that was 85% off. I had to walk by. If I let myself slip and buy that 85% off amazing deal, even if it was $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 be looking in the right places at the right time. If you are on a spending freeze, this is NOT the right time.
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 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. You want to set an example even inspire others to see the strength it took to achieve this goal you have.
Like it or not you are going to need to meal plan. Groceries are expensive and going out to eat is worse. You will need to get creative and learn how to make the right 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 that are in the sale flyers. The easiest way to start is by using coupon matchup lists.
GIVE UP YOUR WANTS AND GIVE YOUR TIME
It will be a challenge for sure to not spend money. Especially depending on personality type. I love to shop. I love getting deals and looking for them. 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 was a waste. I’m saying it was one of the best things we went through and extremely challenging.
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 struggling you will be able to 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 here on earth all day every day. He has a good plan for our lives. He wants to see you succeed. 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 first thing I did was create 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 all items that we have in our house.
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 threw 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 all the thoughts of wants aside. In reality, our culture tricks us into thinking we need so many things.
We don’t. We have all our basics. We can cut back and build our spending muscle so that we can have more in the future. Not that more means more stuff- but more as in contentment.
If you are on a tight grocery budget yes 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.
Here are my top Tips We Used for Sticking to a Tight Monthly Budget During our Spending Freeze:
- Buy as many food items you can use coupons. Use a coupon matchup list to get the cheapest price.
- Use Grocery Apps to add on the savings from the store
- Have a budget– If you don’t know how much money to spend- your money will go wherever it wants.
- 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 many times tastes better and easier to cook with.
- Plan your menus. It’s a must. Use what is in your cupboard FIRST.
- Make your own snacks– think granola bars, cookies, muffins, pancakes, bread, rolls, pizza dough.
- Buy your household essentials at warehouse clubs if possible.
- Don’t go out to eat. Not even once. It may be very hard but don’t do it. Not even a fast food restaurant. You can make everything so much cheaper.
- Change your mindset. You can’t start every day proclaiming we only have $5 to spend today. Instead start your day thankful, grateful, 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.
- Drink water. Don’t buy extra juice, soda etc.
- If you are a spender– figure out what drives you to spend. For example, my favorite thing to spend money on is home decor items. During our spending freeze, I didn’t go to stores that had discounts on home decor items because even if it was on sale, when we did our budget there wasn’t any money for this. I did not tell my money to go there. So I didn’t go there. Plus this discipline of working your spending muscle leads to a much healthier satisfaction down the road.
- 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 3 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. Yes as adults we can go a month or more without a new outfit.
- Use Eggs, Tuna, and ground beef frequently. These are affordable and you can stretch them. You can stretch ground beef by adding beans, breading and more.
- Ask yourself before you get to the checkout lane, is this a need or a want? If you have to pause to think about it, most likely it’s a want. Not during this season, but next season just watch how that item will be on sale.
- Have faith. For those who aren’t Christians, this may not apply, but you can always stay hopeful. Keeping the faith during our spending freeze was critical. We never had to go without and the Lord continued to bless us. The weeks we didn’t need grocery items and needed a household or personal care item, it always seemed to have a clearance price or coupon to bring it in alignment with our budget. You will be blessed during this hard time. Keep the faith.