It's Not Savings If You Can't Save It

I’m not a huge fan of ‘no spend’ periods, whether it be a ‘no spend day’ or ‘no spend week’.  The biggest reason is that for a good portion of potential items purchased, you’re not avoiding their purchase.

Instead, you’re merely delaying the purchase.

Take a tank of gas.  If you drive back and forth to work every day, but delay your gas purchase a day in the name of no-spend day, you’ll just end up buying the gas you would have anyways.

Same with groceries.  Even if you decide to eat food from your freezer or pantry, eventually you will run out of that food and you’ll also have to re-stock it at some point.  So, are you truly saving that money?


There’s an implicit psychological issue that gets tied to that, which I think can be dangerous. It goes like this.

Say you cut out a bunch of spending over the course of the month.  Your bank account balance grows from $1,000 to $1,500.  That is awesome and it’s going to give you a big boost.

But, the problem lies if you eventually have to go back and do any make-up spending the following month as a result of having simply delayed spending.  If the second month sees your balance fall from $1,500 back down to $1,200, you’re going to be pretty bummed about that.

How bummed?

That depends.  You might just be bummed enough to give up on the idea of saving.

The alternate approach might have your balance increase to $1,100 the first month and $1,200 the second month.  In the two scenarios, you end up having spent exactly the same amount and you end up with exactly the same ending balance, but by virtue of the fact that you were able to see a small savings increase two months in a row as outlined in the latter scenario, you might be more motivated to continue than if you just came off a perceived $300 ‘loss’ in the first scenario.

I obviously think saving is a great idea, but if you focus on the numbers too much, so much that you’re almost ‘tricking’ yourself in a way, it can backfire.

What do you think?  Is slow and steady saving the way to go or do big saving months help even if you have to spend some of it back down the way?

Thank you for reading.

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