In my research for my no spend month which I’m starting in a few days, I’ve been reading about people who have taken the challenge to the next level and have just completed a no spend year. A whole year without any extra spending. And it changed their lives.
Michelle McGagh did her own No Spend Year
Michelle McGagh, UK personal finance journalist from The Guardian completed a no spend year from Friday 27 November 2015 to 26 November 2016. She said, “The first six months were hard, but I found a new way of living and the challenge has left me wealthier and wiser.” Source.
She realized how much money she was spending on small incidental things. A drink at the pub, eating out at restaurants, and mindless shopping.
She used the extra money she saved to pay extra on her mortgage making a huge difference to the length of the loan and the satisfaction of knowing how much mortgage interest she’ll save.
She saved $37,100.
Michelle has written a book called The No Spend Year. There’s also a good TED Talk about her experience which I’ve included here.
But it’s not for everyone
My social life was virtually nonexistent and my contentment gone with it. I often canceled plans and ended relationships prematurely because I viewed them as an impediment to my professional and financial goals. I vividly remember one idle Saturday afternoon when, not having any work to do (for once), I realized there were people in the city out having drinks with their friends, and that I didn’t even know where to begin going about making plans like that.
It made me profoundly sad.
It changed his life too. But not for the better. Sure he had a lot of extra income but at a cost.
And it’s here I have to agree.
I couldn’t do a no spend year.
One month I enjoy, but I plan for that. A week, or weekend, is doable for most everyone. A whole year is taking things too far. It’s extreme minimalism at it’s best, and while living below your means is something I believe strongly in, if it impacts your relationships to your personal detriment, well, that’s a line you shouldn’t cross.
I like having control over my finances. I like the power of being able to save money, earn money, invest and make money.
But I wouldn’t do a spending freeze for any longer than a few weeks at a time.
Especially not if it made me or my family miserable.
We all need that balance. And my life is exactly where I want it to be.
Could you quit shopping for a whole year?