I recently found myself going through shopping withdrawals after having some surgery. Suddenly, my triweekly couponing adventures came to a screeching halt! I guess we can call it a self-imposed spending freeze! For two weeks, I didn’t visit a single store. Instead, I saved money and gained some helpful insight into my spending habits. Even though I am quite the expert at saving with coupons, I have to admit that the spending freeze has benefited me in multiple ways. It has helped me with jump-starting my savings budget, streamlining my purchases, using up my stockpile, and making changes within my personal finances.
If you’d like to voluntarily try a spending freeze, here are some tips that will help you successfully enjoy some time away from shopping and refocus your couponing goals. A spending freeze is a good “reset” for your couponing adventures!
1. Plan to use your stockpile
Using out of your stockpile during a spending freeze is essential. It will allow you to stay committed to the freeze. Sure, I looked at sales papers while I was recuperating, but knowing that I didn’t need that great deal on toothpaste because I already had four tubes in my stockpile helped put my spending and shopping in check.
2. Choose specific dates
We all take vacations and may not coupon during that time. This is different! This is a specific, focused spending freeze with no couponing or shopping. I would suggest two weeks or longer. During that time, some things will start to occur. You’ll see how much time you’ve focused on “getting that great deal” instead of reading an awesome bestseller. You could have been making cookies with the kids instead of chasing that Charmin deal at CVS!
3. Set goals according to your needs
My two week spending freeze was determined by the amount of time it was going to take me to recover from surgery. For an elective spending freeze, set goals based on your needs. Since I knew I couldn’t physically go shopping, I also gave up online shopping. No type of shopping was allowed. I did, however, pay bills.
4. Decide how you’ll spend your saved money
Maybe you want to pay down debt, take a vacation or add to your IRA. Setting a specific goal to spend your saved money on will keep you focused as well as motivated. A spending freeze can help you find those areas where you may subconsciously be spending more than you should. Maybe you go to the consignment store right beside your grocery store every time you shop for food. A spending freeze will keep you from visiting both stores!
5. Analyze your spending habits
A spending freeze highlights where you overspend. Believe me, once you change your habits, you’ll learn so much about how you shop. Maybe you hit Starbucks on the way into work every day. When you’re on a spending freeze, think of the money that you’ll save. Or, suppose you like to rent movies often. Omitting this activity may encourage you to walk around the block instead. Maybe you order pizza delivery instead of cooking. Save that $20 and cook out of your stockpile—or make a homemade pizza. You’ll also save money on gas expenses by not driving to the store!
6. Pay attention to other aspects of your financial life
Use the time you’re saving during your spending freeze to look at other aspects of your financial life. Schedule an appointment with a financial planner. Look at your cell phone bill to make sure you have the best plan for the minutes you use. Assess your cable bill! Are you really watching all of the channels you pay for? Think of where all that extra money could go!
My spending freeze was not voluntary, but I am so thankful that I had the time to refocus my couponing efforts and analyze my financial responsibilities. I plan on doing a spending freeze about every three months to keep my spending habits in check!