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Overspent During the Holidays? Here’s How to Pull Off a ‘No Spend’ January

Family passing around Christmas gifts

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It’s a good way to tackle any lingering debt.

Key points

  • Many people rack up debt in the course of their holiday shopping.
  • Curbing your spending to an extreme in January could help you dig out of that hole more quickly.
  • Make plans for entertainment ahead of time, recruit your friends, and be sure to treat yourself to a reward in February.

The holiday season isn’t quite over, but at this point, a lot of people are already looking at giant credit card balances as a result of their recent spending. And so if you’ll be closing out the 2022 holidays with a pile of debt to tackle in 2023, you’ll be in good company.

But you may not exactly be thrilled to start the new year off with debt. And who could blame you? Not only can debt be costly (especially these days, with interest rates on the rise), but it can be stressful. And it can impact your mental health, too.

That’s why it’s in your best interest to rid yourself of holiday debt as quickly as possible. And a no-spend January could be a great way to make that happen.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of a no-spend weekend, week, or month, it basically means that for a given period of time, you only spend money on essential bills, like your rent or mortgage payment, car payment, medications, and groceries. You don’t spend any money on extras like non-work apparel, store-bought coffee, takeout, and concert tickets.

Pulling off a no-spend month isn’t an easy thing to do. But it can be a very effective way to tackle debt. So if you’re willing to give it a go in January, here are some tips for being successful.

1. Line up free entertainment ahead of time

Sticking to your no-spend rule could get tricky if you find yourself getting bored after work and on weekends. That’s why it’s a good idea to prepare some entertainment in advance. That could mean loading up on library books so you have plenty of reading material. It could also mean busting out your old DVD player, hooking it up, and watching classic movies you’ve borrowed from your friends’ collections.

2. Get your friends on board

It’s harder to stick to a no-spend policy when you have friends inviting you to dinner or the movies left and right. If you want to uphold your no-spend month, ask friends to join you in curbing all non-essential spending. If you cut back together, you may find it less painful. Plus, that way, your friends won’t look at you strangely if you suggest a Saturday afternoon hike when you’d normally spend those hours running up a credit card tab at the mall.

3. Reward yourself with something special in February

Pulling off a no-spend month is a real challenge. So make it worth your while by promising yourself a fun treat in February if you’re successful. That could involve dinner at your favorite restaurant or the new pair of boots you’ve been eyeing for weeks.

Closing out the holiday season with debt is pretty common, but it can also be pretty upsetting. If that’s the situation you’re in, a no-spend January could really help you chip away at that debt quickly. And who knows? You may find that cutting your non-essential spending isn’t so hard after all. You may even decide to try another no-spend month later on in the year to help you work toward a big financial goal.

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