How to Plan a No-Spend Weekend

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There are already plenty of good reasons to skip Black Friday shopping.


Another is that Friday, Nov. 28, is Buy Nothing Day, an informal protest against consumerism. While it may be a gimmick, the concept is an excellent way to understand your own spending. This is especially true if you extend Buy Nothing Day into No-Spend Weekend.


No-Spend Weekend means exactly that -- you don't spend any money for two days. Although it may sound simple, the new routine will take time to master. Once Saturday arrives, you are no longer allowed to take money (or equivalents such as credit cards) out of your wallet to buy any products or services. You can only use what you already have on hand. (You aren't allowed to stock up before the weekend.)


Here are five reasons for instituting a monthly No-Spend Weekend:

It breaks routines: One of the most difficult issues to overcome when you want to get your personal finances in order is to change your routines. By declaring a No-Spend Weekend, you are forced to look at the patterns you've fallen into over time and the spending habits you've formed because you can no longer do them.


For example, you can't just jump into the car for a trip and grab food and snacks along the way. You need to plan ahead by making lunch and bringing drinks from home. You also have to make sure you have enough gas. Choose entertainment that won't cost any money when you reach your destination.


It encourages better grocery shopping: You will quickly realize what food you have stored in your refrigerator and cabinets. Since you can't buy anything, you'll be eating what's there for two days. You will find yourself throwing away food that has been sitting in the back of the fridge for ages. It will also give you a good perspective on what types of basic foods you need to stock up on. Knowing what you need combined with grocery-shopping saving techniques should greatly reduce costs.


It makes you look beyond consumerism: Far too many people rely on retail therapy when they don't have plans. When they are bored, they shop. When they aren't sure what to do, they buy something. A No-Spend Weekend gives you a chance to think of how not to be a consumer and decide whether what you have been buying is worthwhile.


It helps you find free entertainment: A lot of people believe they need to buy their entertainment. Not true. Instead of playing a round of golf or going to the movies, go for a bike ride or take a walk. There is plenty of free entertainment available, but most people don't consider it when they already have a routine of paying for it.


It saves money: Think about the typical amount of money you spend during any given weekend. This includes shopping, eating out, snacks, entertainment and any other activity that costs money. You will likely be surprised at the amount of money you end up saving the first time you implement a No-Spend Weekend.


In the end, the way you approach the No-Spend Weekend will determine how successful the concept is. It will take effort. Sitting in front of the TV all weekend isn't a good option. But if you approach it as a way to learn more about spending habits, it can be an excellent way to adopt new routines that make more financial sense.

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