The other day I was listening to some stock-picking gurus review several of their favorite picks. One of them mentioned Visa and Mastercard as one of their favorite companies given the “new, electronic economy.”
They went on to say, “I mean, think about it. Does a day go by that you don’t use your credit card four or five times a day? Coffee shop on the way to work, lunch, grocery store and gas station on the way home.”
I suppose they are right; we do seem to use our credit and debt cards several times a day. I guess we could just as easily use cash. Well, maybe not just as easily – after all, those card readers at the gas pump are pretty convenient.
The question is, would we spend cash so easily? The bigger question is, why are we consuming so many things every single day? Can we not go a day without buying something? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself lately, and I’ve made it sort of a challenge.
A “No-Spend” Wednesday
Yesterday was a good example. We had breakfast at home, as we typically do. No stops by Starbucks on the way to work. At work, I drank water and avoided the vending machine (not hard to do since I’m trying to eat better, but the occasional diet soda is still my weakness).
Lunch was a brown bag from home – a roast beef sandwich, a portion of cottage cheese and a water. After dinner at home I ignored the the blitz of “deals” that often hit my inbox – Amazon’s deal of the day (yeah, the 32BG thumb drive for $22 was tempting), a $1.99 movie rental opportunity, etc.
Fortunately, my wife agreed to a “No-Spend Day,” too, so her and the kids made it a point to avoid some of the infrequent treats they enjoy throughout the week like the once-a-week visit to Sonic after school to grab a half-priced drink. Sure, it would have only cost them a couple dollars, but we were making a point not to spend any money. Not even $1.00!
Lessons Learned from a No-Spend Day
The exercise has made us more aware of two things: we have a lot of little money leaks in the average day. And two, we need to find more activities that don’t cost money. My kids are ahead of the adults on this one – they have already asked about going to the library this weekend to stock up on some new reading material.
The weather has improved to the point where doing things like taking a picnic to the park once again sounds enjoyable. My son has asked me to start taking him fishing (a sneakily expensive hobby, but very low cost once you have the basic equipment).
We are also on the lookout for things to do nearby that don’t cost much, or are absolutely free. These may be community events or events sponsored by local businesses. Check the Living or Community section of your local newspaper to find out what’s happening in your area.
So, to wrap things up, I challenge you to schedule a no-spend day in the very near future. It’s sort of like a fast, but instead of giving up solid foods you’ll be giving up spending money, just for a day.
You may find that by stringing a few no-spend days together, or dedicating a day of the week as a “no-spend day” every week, helps you significantly reduce your monthly expenses.
Disclaimer: I own no stock in Visa or Mastercard