Try a no spend­ing month

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

Sim­ple Sav­ings is a group I’ve long har­boured ad­mi­ra­tion for and once a year its No Spend Month tick­les my fancy.

Sim­ple Sav­ings is a tran­sTas­man thrift club of mem­bers united by a shared goal to trim their spend­ing, then trim it some more.

In a world where the words ‘‘peo­ple’’ and ‘‘con­sumers’’ are of­ten used as if they were syn­onyms, it is re­fresh­ing to hear from peo­ple who sim­ply refuse to be the lat­ter.

No Spend Month is a per­fect ex­am­ple of that sub­ver­sive be­hav­iour.

The rules are sim­ple. Sim­ple Sav­ings mem­bers are told ‘‘your mis­sion is to avoid spend­ing money on ANY­THING . . . other than the ab­so­lute es­sen­tials for your work, ed­u­ca­tion or sur­vival’’.

‘‘Ob­vi­ously there will be some things you can­not avoid such as ba­sic food and prior bills but apart from that your mis­sion is to make sure you don’t buy any­thing that is not es­sen­tial.’’

Ex­am­ples of things that are not es­sen­tial in­clude: Takeaway food of any sort, lol­lies or chips, soft drinks, books, frozen din­ners and any form of pre-made food, movies or DVDs, cloth­ing, beauty prod­ucts and al­co­hol.

Per­mit­ted spend­ing in No Spend Month in­cludes: Rent or mort­gage pay­ments, ba­sic food, power, in­sur­ance, health­care, petrol and all the other stuff that sim­ply can­not be avoided.

Now this boot camp ap­proach to re­set­ting your thoughts on spend­ing is not ev­ery­one’s cup of tea.

It can look rather ex­treme and is, for some, ut­terly im­pos­si­ble or at least would leave them hor­ri­bly on the outer in a world in which even drop­ping in on a friend seems to re­quire ar­riv­ing with a gift of food or drink.

But the idea does have an al­lure and en­cap­su­lates the uni­ver­sal hu­man urge to re­sist and to be­come bet­ter.

Many of us qui­etly re­sist the things in so­ci­ety we dis­ap­prove of.

Two of my re­sis­tances are to be­have as though I am al­ler­gic to take­aways and barista cof­fee and to never, ever take my young daugh­ters to shop­ping malls.

But tak­ing a month to live rad­i­cally dif­fer­ently can give you a new per­spec­tive, and be­come a spring­board to a bet­ter way of liv­ing.

A few months back I in­ter­viewed banker An­drew MextedBragg, who set him­self the task of liv­ing on the min­i­mum wage for 11 weeks. It changed him for the bet­ter. He was forced into a vir­tu­ally no-spend 11 weeks be­cause, quite frankly, liv­ing on the min­i­mum wage re­quires it.

The re­sult of his ex­per­i­ment was a man whose money brain was rewired. He saw the world anew. He frit­tered less. He con­trolled. He was hap­pier.

I don’t ad­vo­cate join­ing Sim­ple Sav­ings or that you try a No Spend Month but I do think there would be value for many of us in con­sid­er­ing lighter ver­sions of it such as a No Take­aways Month, a No New Clothes Month, a No Trips to the Mall Month . . . what­ever it is that frit­ters your cash.

And take an­other tip from Sim­ple Sav­ings.

If you do de­cide on such an ex­per­i­ment, fo­cus not on what you give up but what you gain.

As Sim­ple Sav­ings puts it: ‘‘Imag­ine all the things you could do to get ahead financially if you man­aged to keep all that money in your bank in­stead of au­to­mat­i­cally hand­ing it over to shop­keep­ers for things you don’t need.’’

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