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Should You Try a “Spending Blackout?”

Should You Try a “Spending Blackout?”

It’s time to re-evaluate your finances if you struggle to pay your bills and meet daily expenses. For example, you can start a side hustle, negotiate for higher pay, or quit your job for a better one. Although the high cost of living is partly to blame for your money problems, some financial troubles come from your spending habits. You may not control the economy, but you can improve your financial situation with a spending blackout.

What Is a Spending Blackout?

Many expenses go unaccounted for at home. When you take a spending blackout, you avoid using money for several days, weeks, and even a month. During this period, you survive on stocked-up supplies instead of going to the store. Remember, a spending blackout can be whatever you want it to be. While some people avoid spending entirely, others cut the budget for specific expenses, for example, food, entertainment, clothes, and air conditioning. Likewise, you can start with a few blackout days and advance to a week, fortnight, or month.

How to Implement Spending Blackouts

Here’s how to kickstart your spending blackout.

Understand Your Motivation

People cut expenses for various reasons. While some want to minimize debt, others are saving for a house, car, vacation, or their child’s college education. But regardless of your motivation, spending blackouts are a step towards financial freedom. Defining the goal of your spending blackout informs your roadmap for the long-term vision.

It also strengthens commitment. You’re less likely to abandon the spending blackout with a target in sight. Moreover, goal setting instills a sense of responsibility. By writing down your vision, you can track progress and stay accountable to yourself.  

Discuss With Your Family

A spending blackout affects other household members, not just yourself. However, only a few people are ready to have financial conversations. According to Ally Bank, 70% of Americans find it inappropriate to talk about personal finance in public. But if you don’t discuss money with family, your spouse, and children may resist the spending blackout.

The first step is talking about your financial health. Your family should understand the current money situation to appreciate why you’re cutting back on spending. For example, you can calculate the family income and weigh it against your debts and expenses. Next, explain your financial goals and how you can achieve them by saving more. Most importantly, welcome your family’s suggestions–they might have better ideas on implementing the spending blackout.  

Review Your Subscriptions

According to a recent Bankrate survey, 51% of the 2,497 American participants reported unwanted subscription and membership charges. Because most renewals are automatic, you might not notice money leaving your credit or debit card. At the same time, you may forget to cancel a service after free trials. Not to worry though, here’s how to manage unwelcome subscriptions.

  • Share subscriptions with family and friends instead of getting a new account
  • Set reminders for free trials
  • Use subscription management tools
  • Unsubscribe from any email newsletters that trigger impulse purchases
  • Keep records of automatic payments
  • Contact merchants or card companies to cancel your subscriptions

Eat at Home

Boring, yes. But many people spend a lot of money — more than they realize — eating out. Besides paying more for meals, eating out requires you to buy drinks, tip, and pay for transportation.

Here’s how to cut your spending by cooking at home:

  • Preserve your leftovers
  • Batch cooking
  • Bulk buying
  • Go to the store with a list
  • Take advantage of coupons
  • Choose frozen fruits and veggies over fresh ones

Spending blackouts may seem daunting at first, but it’s all worth it in the end. Besides acquiring financial discipline, you’ll appreciate the savings that come with no-spend days.

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