NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Starting a Spending Freeze

Starting a Spending Freeze


                “Spending freeze” is a phrase that recently began popping up in conversations concerning money management.  A spending freeze is a determined period during which you do not spend any money. You also can call it a spending fast or a no-spend week or weekend. The guidelines you set around your freeze are up to you, depending on how extreme you want to go with your efforts. You can cut your spending as much as possible, down to zero dollars going into others’ hands — or you can make exceptions for things you truly need.

                The idea is that by severely limiting your spending for a time can act as a hard reset on your financial habits. You’ll likely reduce your discretionary spending, which means more cash on hand to devote to your goals. But more importantly, this is an opportunity to make a mental shift. When you enact a spending freeze, you avoid the actual act of handing over money in exchange for something. You enforce a new habit of taking no action (by not spending). When you do spend again, you may be more mindful, because spending is now not as routine as it was before your spending-free period. You save money immediately, and you set yourself up to think twice before you spend in the future.

                How to plan your own spending freeze - Set the rules ahead of time. Determine how long your fast will last and write down any exceptions before you start.  You can plan for your spending freeze to be in effect for a weekend, a week, or longer. One way to support your efforts is to start by choosing a day to avoid spending. If you get through the day without making any purchases, mark an X on the calendar. Your goal is to see how many of those X’s — or no-spend days — you can string together.

                Set yourself up for success by taking care of any necessary spending before you start your financial fast. You can fill up your car with gas, make your monthly rent or mortgage payment, cover any utility bills that are due, or grab groceries before your week of no spending begins. Yes, you’re still spending money on things you have to purchase for your everyday life. But again, you’re also creating a space of time where you do not engage in the physical act of handing over cash multiple times every day.

                Factors That Will Affect Your Spending Fast

  • The total amount of debt you have
  • Your income
  • How much spending you decide to cut out
  • The duration of time you chose for your spending fast 
  • How much money you can make by selling your unused possessions
  • What you chose to do to generate additional income 
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