Spend Nothing Game – Solitaire Version

by Randy Murray on May 5, 2010

One of the secrets to success in reducing and eliminating unnecessary spending is honesty. You have to be completely aware of when you’re spending, what you’re spending it on, and why. This is tough stuff. It’s so easy to just let little things slip by: that cup of coffee at Starbucks, grabbing lunch at a fast food restaurant, that new iPad case you’ve had your eye on.

But to win the Spend Nothing Game, you’ve got to be aware. That’s why playing the solitaire version before you compete with your friends is an important exercise.

The first step is to establish a budget. You see, it’s not really about spending nothing, it’s about spending nothing on things that you don’t really need and that don’t really make you happy, or make your life any better. And it’s about saving money to use on things that really can make you happy. Like freedom.

Your budget must include the basics: food, shelter, health, and transportation. What are the things that you must pay for to survive and thrive? Beyond that, your budget can include an allowance for entertainment and other activities, but focus on the word “allowed.” Just because it’s allowed doesn’t make it mandatory. And reducing your spending might mean reducing the amount you budget and allow for extraneous expenses, but don’t actually spend.

In today’s economy the greater freedom and flexibility comes with greater financial freedom.  The less income you need, the more flexibility you’ll have in how you spend your time and the requirements that you put on yourself to earn an income.

So here’s your exercise for this week: spend nothing above the required.  Eat only food you prepare at home. Buy no prepared meals or drinks. Purchase no items that are not planned and budgeted as required. And for bonus points, plan entertainment for yourself, friends, and family that have no cost. Attend a community event. Watch a movie at home. Stage a board game tournament. Visit a public park and go for a hike. But above all, spend nothing.

At the end of this week stop and examine how you felt. Were you deprived? Did you feel isolated by bringing your lunch to work? What did you learn about your spending?

And how long will you make the next phase of your spend nothing game?

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