Through their annual “Grow a Moustache” campaign, Movember has raised awareness of men’s health issues. Paying homage to it, I created a campaign I call “No-Spender”—a month-long initiative to promote an awareness of our spending habits in advance of the most difficult time of the year: December holidays.
Here’s how it works:
- From your bank account, withdraw $150 for each adult in your household and $50 for each child each Sunday of November. This is your spending allowance for the month.
- You can also make 2 charges on your credit card per week: one trip to the grocery store and one tank of gas per car. Everything else—even going back to the grocery store for another item—comes out of your cash. (Remember to suspend pre-paid ordering apps as well.)
- Your goal is to reach the end of the week before the money runs out.
Once you adjust to life without your plastic budget busters, there are a few other challenges to try.
- Review your bank and credit card statements to identify automatic charges that don’t really improve your life all that much.
- While you’re at it, review your credit rating report and correct any errors that may be preventing you from qualifying for lower lending rates.
- Next, find one service to invest in that will likely make your life better or easier. Saving money is not all about deprivation—the “No-Spender” challenge is ultimately about creating your best life on a fixed budget. We live in a society where “money shaming” is prevalent. Don’t let others judge how and on what you spend, as long as it makes good sense to you and is within you and/or your family’s budget.
Why it works:
Participants have told me that, although they felt that the weekly budget was generous at first, they were shocked at how quickly the funds ran out. Furthermore, they also reported that most of their unstructured spending happened on weekends, so designing the bank withdrawals on Sundays required them to plan ahead so they still had enough money through Saturday night.
Research by Statistics Canada has shown that many Canadian households are indebted. Ease of credit threatens not only our own individual solvency but our collective economy. Spending cash feels more real. “No-Spender” reminds us of the connection between our spending and our finite earnings. This program literally puts a hard-stop on spending each week.
Why did I select $150 per adult and $50 per child as the weekly “allowance” for this experiment? In the absence of any other savings, an average Canadian adult will collect $600.85 per month from Old Age Security starting at age 65 (2018) and CPP will add up to $1,134 per month to this monthly stipend. The “No-Spender” budget is designed to simulate what someone who hasn’t contributed to CPP might have to live on at age 65.
Like Movember, “No-Spender” lasts only month to shed light on our spending temptations and the benefits of getting the most from our earnings.