The Manageable Money-Saving Habit Everyone Can Master

By | Thursday, May 05, 2016


There are a lot of ideal money habits that, no matter how much they could save me money in the short-and-long term, I’m pretty sure I’ll never master. As I mentioned earlier today, the no-restaurant challenge many people undertake to stop eating out for 30 days at a time is definitely at the top of that list. But that doesn’t mean that I’m some monster who is incapable of self-reflection or a productive assessment of her spending habits (good and bad). There are many things that I already do without trying, because I actually enjoy them: I cook nearly every night, I DIY a lot of my home furnishing and decor, and I use walking as my primary form of activity because LOL at me going to a gym regularly. So while I’m not some money-saving maven, I feel like I’m doing all right, all things considered.

But I’m always on the lookout for something that will yield a lot of result for little effort (like any good American), so when I came across this Reddit thread about a ~hot saving tip~, I was thoroughly intrigued. Apparently, the rule is very simple: you try to have two days per week where you spend zero dollars. As the author puts it:

A little trick that has really helped my wife and I spend less money is to try and have two days per week where we don’t spend a single dollar. And it’s actually a lot easier than you might think, once you get used to it.

It really forces you to pack your own lunch, make a pot of coffee at home and avoid all those little (and unnecessary) expenditures that add up over course of a month. As a bonus, by forcing yourself to forego the pack of gum, Diet Coke, and whatnot on your $0 days, you wind up cutting these things out naturally on the other days.

Now, this is something that — as someone whose office is “the downstairs of her apartment” — I’ve definitely done unintentionally. There are simply days when I haven’t left the house at all, in which case, spending on anything from designer coffee to a new purse is simply out of the equation. (Yes, I could always be shopping online/Seamlessing, but I actually don’t do those things that frequently, if only because I have such a profound need for instant gratification that waiting even a tiny delivery window can often dissuade me.) But the idea of taking this mentality to days when I’m out and about is a good one, particularly for things like “a weekend spent walking around the neighborhood, picnic-ing, etc.” It’s so easy to let days that are neither “work” nor “home” turn into a spending free fall.

And on the days when I have to go to work outside the house (semi-frequent but not a regular commute), it almost always descends into an orgy of $12 salad lunches, Starbucks before and after the meetings, and maybe even a dash into a Sephora on the way home because it’s been such a stressful day and I need this vitamin-packed facial mist for the next time I’m on a plane.

“What’s missing from my life, and preventing me from ascending to the next level of Professional Young Woman-Chic?”

“Vitamin face-mist for airplanes.”

These are the objectively insane internal conversations I can only have with myself when I’m wandering around on a stressful day, with no particular budget in mind.

And for you, the splurging that just sort of naturally… happens when you’re out and about might be something totally different. For a lot of people, it’s things like coffee, expensive lunches, snacks, and other edibles that offset the stress of the day. But there are also a lot of people who will duck into a fast fashion store on the walk home because it’s just so easy, and nothing will provide a quicker (or emptier) ego boost than having a new dress to wear on a whim.

Fast fashion actually used to be one of those things for me, but once I put a hard moratorium on all things fast fashion as a rule (and a challenge to myself, of sorts), it became much easier to stop those random shopping trips. I’m over a year sans fast fashion for me, barring one trip to buy white tennis shoes because I’m sick of Keds’ extreme prices and declining quality for what are essentially one-season shoes, but that’s another story. And this experience alone has made me confident that hard-and-fast rules, like the two Zero-Dollar Days per week, are the most effective ways to make these kind of changes. When there’s no wiggle room for your bad spending habits, they’re easier to manage — impulse buys are very susceptible to grey areas.

Image via Pexels

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