What I Realized From My No-Spend Month

This 12 months, for our “24 for twenty-four” lists, my sister Elizabeth and I made a decision to watch a “No-Spend February.” For the month of February, we didn’t make any pointless purchases.


A quick interval of deprivation may help us find out about ourselves and our patterns. It could re-set our tolerances, in order that going ahead, we indulge much less.

Additionally, it might present us that we’d be happier if we engaged much less in a behavior akin to spending, consuming wine each night time, or scrolling in mattress.

Establishing a profitable No-Spend Month

When you’re contemplating a “No-Spend Month,” setting just a few floor guidelines forward of time may help you persist with it:

  • Set a timeline—if a complete month appears daunting, attempt one week or sooner or later per week.
  • Determine what “counts”—you would possibly select to concentrate on a selected class of spending or rule out something you deem “non-essential.”
  • When you rule out something “non-essential,” what is crucial? Tooth paste, a birthday present, a meal with associates?
  • Arrange safeguards—as an illustration, in the event you have a tendency to buy if you’re bored, resolve what you’ll do as a substitute.
  • Establish your “why”—clarifying what you hope to realize from the expertise, whether or not it’s breaking a behavior, saving for an even bigger funding, or aligning your habits together with your values, will enable you persist with it.
  • Think about whether or not you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Insurgent—the “4 Tendencies” character framework will enable you arrange the problem in the way in which that’s best for you (be taught your Tendency by taking the quiz right here).

Elizabeth and I made a decision that for one month, we’d spend cash solely on vital home items—additionally items. We may eat at a restaurant for a social event, however we couldn’t pay for ready meals in any other case.

For some folks, it would work higher to chop again on spending, with out declaring one thing excessive like a “No-Spend February.”

However each Elizabeth and I are Abstainers about many issues—all or nothing. Many individuals are stunned to search out that with regards to temptation, it might be simpler to present one thing up altogether than to indulge reasonably.  (Learn extra about abstainers vs. moderators.)

It’s additionally true that always, after we don’t feed our cravings, they don’t construct up; as a substitute, they fade away. 

Additionally, a daring gesture generally feels extra enjoyable than a extra modest effort.

In fact, we each realized that we’re terribly lucky to have the monetary consolation to decide on to not spend on this method. That’s not one thing ever to take with no consideration.

What we discovered from our No-Spend February


Elizabeth hadn’t realized how a lot time and vitality she spent shopping on-line, trying by means of emails about sale objects, and checking web sites. So she gained again that point and vitality in February. 

Nevertheless, to her shock, she got here out of the month with extra want to purchase. In unusual life, she often regarded with out shopping for, however by the top of February, she felt extra urge to buy groceries than standard, so she thought she would possibly go on a procuring spree. However, in truth, she didn’t.


As a result of I couldn’t impulsively purchase books that I wished, I ended up shopping for far fewer—which is sweet, as a result of as of late I really feel oppressed by my enormous piles of unread books. 

Additionally, I need to be taught to watercolor, however my want to purchase artwork provides outstrips my precise use of these provides. It was good that I couldn’t purchase a Chinese language brush or gouache. This delay jogged my memory that I shouldn’t indulge within the pleasure of shopping for provides; I needs to be specializing in repeatedly portray with watercolor.

One other profit: I wished to purchase a small water-sprayer for watercolor, however as a result of I couldn’t purchase one, I noticed I may re-purpose a sprayer that had held lens cleaner.

Usually, delay is sweet. After I noticed a YouTube advert for hearth blankets, and doing a little bit inconclusive analysis, I do know I might have purchased them. However I waited to see if I actually thought they have been a good suggestion.

Alongside the identical traces, once I noticed solar gloves in an REI retailer, I do know I might’ve purchased them—I didn’t know such issues existed. However I waited. When summer time comes, I’ll see if I really want them (uncertain).

Suggestions from listeners

After we talked about No-Spend February in episode 472 of the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast, listeners who joined within the problem reported on what they discovered and used.

Some highlights:

  • Many folks emphasised the usefulness of belonging to a Purchase Nothing group.
  • Many really useful budgeting instruments akin to YNAB (You Want a Finances) or Simplifi.
  • If a baby is begging for a toy, take an image of it. That gesture typically satisfies them.
  • Save the cash you’d in any other case spend to spend money on your self, with financial savings.
  • A real under-buyer realized that she’d truly profit from a Large-Spend February, to push her to purchase needful issues akin to prescription sun shades and hole-free t-shirts. (Examine under-buyers and over-buyers.)
  • A listener identified that folks ought to use the 4 Tendencies framework to determine easy methods to deal with a No-Spend February. I completely agree—Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels would method the problem another way.
  • Solely purchase “treats” with money.
  • Customise settings in social media to obtain fewer advertisements.
  • In Amazon, “proceed to take a look at” simply as soon as per week, to get one other probability to assessment purchases earlier than making them.
  • Most amusing: Each January, a listener and her husband observe “Survivor Pantry Island.” They purchase only a few groceries for the month, and as a substitute eat from their pantry and freezer.

Last insights

One listener identified that whereas Elizabeth and I typically describe ourselves as under-buyers, we purchase loads! That’s one factor we discovered from No-Spend February; we underestimated how a lot buying we do.

When you’re on this topic, Ann Patchett has an exquisite essay within the New York Instances, “My 12 months of No Procuring.” We did a e-book membership with Ann in episode 283.

I’m very pleased that I did No-Spend February; it was a really helpful train. The extra intentional we’re about our actions, the extra our lives can mirror our values.

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