How about 2 days on the run, or even 3 or 4 days a week without spending anything? If you baulked at the first question, I'm sure the answer for the second is just laughter.
Does it seem too hard to do? Maybe it even seems alien. No matter what you think of these questions, I'm here to tell you that Zero Dollar Days are the key to your future.
A Day Without Spending
When I first wrote in 10 Little Sacrifices that I'd had three Zero Dollar Days, I was absolutely shocked and stunned that I had even had one. For me, my previous daily routine was to spend money, maybe a little, maybe a lot, but essentially I would spend something every day. Now I try to have three Zero Dollar Days every week.
You should try the same. You mightn't think you can do it, like I couldn't, but it's actually easier than what you think. Your habits will have to change, but if you follow those 10 Little Sacrifices (and maybe some of your own), you'll find that you've already eliminated most of your daily spending - which at the end of the day are non-essentials anyway.
It's harder to create those Zero Dollar Days when you have essentials to buy; like breakfast, lunch and tea, or maybe journeying to and from work. In those cases, giving up isn't feasible so you have to do it another way. Yet again though, it is relatively easy since all it takes is planning.
For travel, all you need to do is pre-pay your train or bus ticket or fill up the car at the start of the week. Of course, if you walk or bicycle to work, you're already on to a winner.
For food, you just need to figure out what you're having and when. Breakfast is usually at home so that's already been paid for when you last went grocery shopping. Evening meal is also similar and as usual lunch is the hardest thing to figure out. Being able to get home for lunch (like I do) is a little privilege but brown-bagging it surely is the cheapest option though it requires the most planning.
Other than those two things, you can probably get through a work day without spending anything. Weekends are hardest but even they can be Zero Dollar days too. Work on the weekdays first and move onto the weekends later.
For the Future
All of those savings you're making to get those spend-free days should be whipped straight out of your account and put into your debt repayment or into your savings. Just get it out of your current account so you can't spend it on anything else.
You'll find that these savings really start to add up and once you start earning interest on the amount saved, you'll be happy with the results.
In the past two months, I haven't kept a complete check of my Zero Dollar Days but I will do from now on. Sometimes it's hard to figure out if you had a Zero Dollar Day - for example what if your utility bill came out of your bank account but you didn't spend anything else. I'd still consider that a Zero Dollar Day since that payment was pre-planned and didn't come out of your wallet (either cash, debit or credit). I'd also say the same for a grocery shop of essentials, especially if it's pre-planning all your food for the next while (but not if it contains any of the non-essentials you promised to give up)!
At a guess though, I think I've been doing either 3 or 4 Zero Dollar Days a week during the past two months. I definitely think it has made a big difference to how much I'm spending. I'm going to the supermarket a lot more but that's because I'm making and eating much more of my food at home. The cost of the supermarket (or Sunday Market) is still much cheaper than paying for someone's labour making it when you buy those take-aways, deli sandwiches or cafe food.
As I mentioned at the start, if the idea of going through a day without spending doesn't fit with you, then just try it for one day and one day only. Once you've done that, you'll be able to do it again and again and again. Good luck with your new spending habit and enjoy your new increasing balance in your savings account.
Do you have any tips on how to attain more Zero Dollar Days? What do you call them? Let me know below.
Posted: 29 October 2008