What Are The Low Spend Year Rules?
Well, the truth is there aren’t any rules, until you decide on what they are for you. There are various reasons you might do a low spend and because of that, your rules will be unique to you. That is why low spend year rules vary depending on who you are listening to.
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Low Spend Year Vs No Spend Year
I did a no spend year in 2017/2018. The no spend year was a tough year that was borne out of necessity, and as such the only rule was ‘spend no money unless you absolutely have to’. There is some comfort in that type of rule setting as there really is no way to misunderstand what is required to achieve the goal.
A low spend year however is less strict and in my experience is a natural follow on from a strict no spend challenge. No spend veterans speak of burn out and getting to a place where it no longer makes sense for them to apply extremely strict no spend rules.
Great self discipline is built during a no spend year. That ability to delay gratification allows a bit more freedom with ones budget. So, this is why low spend year rules require a bit of consideration.
Given my many years of no spend and low spend challenge experience, here is my advice on how to set low spend year rules for you and your family that won’t make you too miserable!
The 5 steps to help you decide on low spend rules are as follows;
- What is the motivation to do a low spend year?
- What are the state of your finances heading into your low spend year?
- What are you willing to sacrifice to achieve the low spend year goal?
- Take an in depth look at your lifestyle to identify new behaviours to incorporate or old behaviours to eliminate.
- Set your non-negotiables. They are the things you will not sacrifice so as to ensure a certain healthy quality of life for you and your family throughout this low spend year challenge.
This is how I decided on my low spend year rules, I hope you find it helpful!
Low Spend Year Rules-Step 1
What is your reason for doing a low spend year? That might seem like a pointless question but hear me out. Rather than perhaps having no money to spend anyway and needing to do a low spend year, spend some time thinking about your bigger dreams and goals for yourself. I have a goal that I want to be self employed. I set that goal during my no spend year when it was totally unrealistic but now 3.5 years later, it’s becoming a reality.
Keep in mind, while you think about your goals, that a lot can change in a few years so don’t be afraid to dream a bit.
Low Spend Year Rules-Step 2
Get your numbers together. What is your total annual income and what are your total annual outgoing? How much excess money might you have in any given year? What could be achieved with it?
- Building an emergency fund
- Paying off debt
- Going on a family holiday or vacation.
Give that goal a fixed monetary amount and a timeline.
Low Spend Year Rules-Step 3
Now that you know what your goal is and how much your goal is going to cost, what changes will you make to achieve that low spend year goal?
Here is an example to help illustrate the point:
Paying off a €5000 Credit Card in one year
Analysing spending showed that this person was buying takeaway food and drinks several times a week costing €40.
€40 times 52 weeks in the year = a €2080 spend annually on takeaway food and drink.
This is nearly half the goal amount of €5000
Analyse every budget category like this to see what you actually spend and then apply that saving to the goal in mind by writing it in to your budget.
Low Spend Year Rules-Step 4
Low spend year rules are not only about what you will limit for a year, they are also about what new things you can learn too! You can make positive rules for new behaviours as well as cutting things out.
Consider these categories:
Cut out or limiting takeaway food
Make your hot drinks at home
Buy less ready made or convenience food.
Buy own-brand food to cut down the grocery bill.
Take a picnic if you go out for the day.
Bring a bottle of water with you whenever you go out.
Use appliances less, such as the clothes dryer. Air dry as many clothes as possible.
Walk to local places rather than driving
Put Limits On What Items You Will Allow Yourself to Replace.
Only buying clothes, shoes and make up on a need to buy basis
Only replacing household items and furniture if essential
Make new outfits from what you already own
Set Behavioural Rules:
Tidy your house. A tidy house means that you know what you have. That makes it much less tempting to buy things when you are out as you’ve no excuse!
Write a budget each month
Write down your goals, track them and give them a fixed end date
Give yourself a small amount of pocket money each month to keep discretionary spending to a mini
Try New Things
Challenge yourself to increase your income
Find free or low cost hobbies such as walking or running
Volunteer in your community to fill in time where you might normally spend money
Spend time learning a new hobby; you could learn how to use WordPress maybe?!
Choose rules that benefit you. Make them strict enough so that you can make savings, and not so harsh that they put you off.
Low Spend Year Rules-Step 5
Make rules that apply to your life so that they work in your favour. What I mean by this is, choose things you will be able to achieve. At the same time set your ‘non-negotiables.
What does that mean?
Maria has really young babies. She is self employed and looks after her grandmother who is unwell. Maria is time poor and should NOT challenge herself to reduce costs by limiting her clothes dryer and dishwasher use. Maria needs these appliances to get through the day with all of her responsibilities.
If there is a family wedding during your low spend year. You might choose not to attend other events, but this one is an important event that you won’t compromise on. You decide to cut costs by wearing an outfit you already own and by doing your own makeup.
That will be one of your non-negotiables.
During my low spend year, I allow one takeaway coffee a week, otherwise I will break and buy 10 coffees in the week!
Low Spend Year Rules Conclusion
I could go on for days with all sorts of rules and ideas to keep you on track for your low spend year. Mainly the idea is this;
- Set a clear, measurable, goal by analysing your numbers.
- Write down in your budget every month how much you will pay towards that goal.
- Write down your rules in your diary or planner
- Keep yourself busy doing free things
- Keep yourself accountable through building or joining a community.
- Make rules that are possible for you to stick to.
This Post Was About How To Set Low Spend Year Rules
I hope you found it helpful x