Fall spending freeze and no shopping ban

Fall Spending Freeze Challenge

Happy Fall, frugal friends! I feel like our return from Bulgaria couldn’t have been more perfectly timed, since we got back 3 days ago and are ready to enter the new season full-force. Fall is feeling very promising this year, and I’m bursting with a renewed desire for organization and getting back on track with our budget and goals.

So what better time than now to start a spending freeze challenge?!

Our fall spending freeze will go into effect for the month of October. What does it mean?

For this challenge, we will not be doing any non-essential spending. That means no shopping for fun stuff and no straying from our set budget.

What will we be spending on?

  • Food
  • Gas
  • Bills
  • Fall entertainment (budgeted for in advance)

What will we not be spending on?

  • Clothing/Accessories
  • Non-essentials, like stuff from the dollar bins at Target (a weakness of mine)
  • Toys for our kids (another weakness for us)
  • Alcohol (has a category in our budget, but we’re taking October off)

Preparing for a Spending Freeze

There isn’t too much that needs to be done in order to prepare for a successful spending freeze. Before you put a freeze into effect, you just want to make sure that you have everything you will need for the duration. This is to avoid unnecessary temptations, like trips to Target because you “need” something. Then what happens is you end up suddenly finding several other items that you didn’t even know you needed!

My goal is to do absolutely no non-essential spending for the month of October, with the exception of fall entertainment that will be accounted for in advance.

If you have young kids, you know you simply can’t do fall without at least one trip to a pumpkin patch (at least in my humble and perhaps very “basic” opinion! So we would like to go to an orchard/pumpkin patch with the kids, and I would like to go on a “haunted” walk because we’ve never been. Every year I say I’m going to get tickets to a candlelight walk at a local historical site, and every year it doesn’t happen. This year, I hope it happens! Both of these activities combined shouldn’t cost us more than $50.

I’m going to make sure that we have everything we need, as far as toiletries and paper products go, just so that I won’t need to make any trips to Target and be tempted to shop. I’m getting ready to switch out our wardrobes, putting away the summer shoes and clothes and getting the cooler weather clothing items out of bins. We should be all set for fall wardrobes since we did some shopping in Bulgaria.

Going Over the Budget

Another step that I think will be critical to a successful no-spend month is going over the budget in advance. We need to know where we stand, as far as bills due and essential categories. We usually go over our budget every few days, but we haven’t since before we left for our trip 3 weeks ago.

Going over the budget also allows you the opportunity to set up new goals, and we definitely have a few that we would like to put in place before the end of this year. Taking a month off of spending is a good way to get started on new financial goals.

Why do a Challenge like this?

Taking a few weeks off from spending will help us to find frugal activities to enjoy. I must admit that after doing some shopping in Bulgaria, I feel like it’s a slippery slope. The temptation to spend is so strong right now. I want to stay out of stores, keep our budget intact, and get on track with our financial goals. I’m so impressed by people who do no shopping challenges, and I want to give it a try myself!

Have you ever tried a spending freeze? How did it work out?

30 thoughts on “Fall Spending Freeze Challenge”

  1. debs @ debtdebs

    I feel like I’m on a spending freeze all the time, but truthfully, I kind of prefer it that way. Maybe you will catch the bug too, Lauren! However, I do need to go shopping this month for a 1 year birthday present for my grandson. He’s into bulldozers, so I think that’s what I’m looking for. Sure hope I can find something that is age appropriate for under 2! Have a happy fall with your activities! #3 daughter has always been into Halloween and makes a big outdoor display that all the kids ooh and aah over.

    1. Oh, I love when people go all out with the Halloween decorations! So fun. Good luck finding the perfect present.

  2. Melanie @ My Alternate Life

    Welcome back! I want to go on one, but I’m turning 30 in October, so will have some celebrating to do. But I’m not going to Iceland like I wanted, so it will be a TON more frugal haha. I am going to try and limit all going out aside from my birthday week. I am pretty good, but dinner and alcohol get me every time.

  3. Hi
    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who has put a spending freeze.
    I plan to save $50 000 savings & 6K for my postgrad by end 2015.
    1) no buying of clothes. I don’t enter shopping centres, period.
    2)$$ to be spent on food, petrol & essential items only. I go grocery shopping after my night shift so I would not be tempted Bec only grocery shops are opened!
    3) worked out a weekly budget for my essential bills & mortgage

    It’s hard when you have to penny pinch.

  4. Ooo, I love a good spending freeze! I’ve found cutting out booze to be surprisingly easy. I usually keep a few ones in my bag and order a good ol’ soda water and lime when I’m out at a bar with friends. I’ll tip the bartender $1 and call it a night. It’s a great frugal compromise. Plus, it saves on calories.

  5. Good luck with your spending freeze! We definitely need to go one. I had a clothing freeze and I think I may go back on it.

  6. brandy @bustedbudget

    I did a clothing spending freeze in August. It was hard because I love to shop! But it was exactly what I needed. Good luck!

  7. We’re doing something similar as I’ve kind of slipped a bit recently – it must be the thought of Christmas looming that’s doing it!

  8. Welcome back!
    I agree that shopping can be a slippery slope! There are so many great frugal fall activities, too!

  9. Erin @ Journey to Saving

    Good luck! For the most part, I feel like I’m always on a spending freeze. We really try to limit what we spend outside of necessities. I think it will be good to be mindful of buying “extras” right around now, especially since I’d like to save for the holidays!

  10. I managed a 3 month spending freeze this year from Jan-March and boy did that open my eyes! I hope you had a wonderful trip to Bulgaria and welcome back 🙂

  11. Good luck! A month will be challenging, but you can do it. If I can stay away from target, that helps with a lot of the temptation. (How does Target do that to us?!)

  12. Every day I’m on a spending freeze. Almost joking but I’m not. I don’t really spend much $$$ outside the necessities. I did buy a GoPro the other day though… 🙂

  13. Aldo @ Million Dollar Ninja

    We’re setting a spending freeze in October as well because we’re going on vacation in November and want to splurge a little (very little). The only thing we’re going to spend money on, besides the essentials, is on my sister’s birthday… I have to at least take her out to eat. Other than that, zero spending.

  14. Shannon @ Financially Blonde

    I go on spending freezes all the time, although, I have probably not done one for more than a week straight. I find them very useful as a reset for our finances. It’s a great way to bring back the mindfulness to spending and usually after a freeze, the next few weeks/months numbers look good as well.

  15. Spending freeze… sounds great!

    Giving yourself goals like this is not only good for your short-term finances, but also helps give you perspective for longer-term savings goals: when you realise you don’t miss the things you’ve regularly been spending your money on, you question why you were spending it in the first place.

    1. I agree. That’s why shopping is a slippery slope for me. I don’t miss it once I get out of the habit, but then a few trips to Target and I’m back in it, buying little things that we don’t truly need.

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