Could you not spend money for a week each month? If so, here’s how much you could save

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A spending freeze can save you money, but that’s not all.

Key points

  • As Americans, we tend to throw away much of what we buy.
  • A spending freeze, even just one week a month, can save thousands of dollars over the course of a year.
  • Just as important as the money you save is what you can learn about your spending habits during a spending freeze.

When you don’t spend any disposable income, it’s called a spending freeze. The length of a freeze is up to you. To be clear, you would still pay your monthly financial obligations, such as your regular bills, but you would take a break from buying anything else during that period. What happens if you freeze spending for one week of each month? Here’s a look at how far you could get if you try this.

groceries only

According to the latest figures from the US Department of Agriculture, a “thrifty” family of four spends $223 a week on groceries. Your number can be higher or lower than that, but let’s use this number as a reference.

While this fact alone doesn’t tell you how much you could save by not spending money one week out of the month, it does give us a good starting point.

buying in bulk

Naturally, you’ll still need to eat during a spending freeze week, and that means planning ahead. In addition to creating a menu of foods you plan to enjoy, you’ll need to purchase the supplies to prepare those meals.

Let’s say you normally shop weekly, but plan to freeze your spending on the third week of every month. That means you’ll need to pick up cooking and baking supplies during your first week or two shopping trip.

Now, this is where you could save money. Creating a menu based on what’s for sale in your areayou can buy wholesale. And according to some estimates, buying wholesale represents an average saving of 20% (more on some products).

If you normally spend $223 per week on groceries, that works out to an average savings of $45 during the frost week, or a total of $2,340 per year.

meal planning

Meal planning is essential if you’re going to abstain from spending for a full seven days each month. And one of the benefits of meal planning is the amount of money it saves you. The better you plan each meal, the less food you’ll waste.

For example, according to the nonprofit organization Feeding America, the average American family of four throws in $1,600 a year on produce alone. That’s $1,600 that can be saved in a college savings plan or used to strengthen a rainy day background.

If you’re spending $1,600 per year on products, that’s $133 per month. Now, let’s say you use the groceries you’ve bought for at least one week of the month. That works out to $33 per month, or $396 per year.

Miscellaneous expenses

The Ascent Investigation notes that according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Consumer Expenditure Survey, the average American household spends the following on these miscellaneous expenses each month:

  • Entertainment $297
  • Restaurants $253
  • Clothing and services $146
  • Personal care $64
  • Alcoholic drinks $46
  • Tobacco/smoking products $28
  • reading $10
  • Other miscellaneous $82

That’s a total of $926 per month. A spending freeze for a single week would put an additional $231 in your Bank accountor $2,772 per year.

impulse purchases

Most of us are guilty of the occasional impulse purchase. We’re standing in a checkout line and we see something we suddenly can’t live without or we head to the store to buy a new t-shirt and end up with a new pair of shoes too. The average American spends about $314 per month on impulse purchases, according to a study by Slickdeals.

Not making impulse purchases one week each month would save you $79 or $948 each year.

A conscious reboot

Let’s say you try a one-week spending freeze and find out it’s not for you. It’s fine. One of the best things to come from an experiment like this is a more conscious approach to spending. Once you’ve tried to eliminate it from your life (even for a short time), you’re much more likely to recognize those moments when you reach for a product you don’t need or buy an item you don’t need. You’ll probably end up throwing it away.

If a week seems like overkill, why not try freezing your expenses for one day and see what you think?

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