Imagine what would happen if you stopped spending for a week.

It’s called a spending detox and I do it three times a year for a few reasons.

First, it helps to save a few hundred dollars really fast. That money can be used for other important things like saving up for a trip, paying off debt, or investing for retirement.

Second, by taking a step back, it helps me be more strategic about what I really want and need to spend my money on when it comes time to spend again.


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Third, it forces me to use up what I have, thus reducing our household waste.

If you want to turn the taps off spending for a week, follow these rules.

Stop spending money on anything non-essential. If it’s not essential to keep you alive and healthy, it’s out!

Transfer your daily savings into your savings account...do this daily.

Pay your normal bills and budgeted expenses like rent or groceries. This is not a licence to skip paying your mortgage or utility bills.

This doesn’t have to feel like another COVID lockdown, by the way. What a spending detox looks like is you lying low for a week and not shopping, being resourceful and embracing fun, free entertainment.

Some of the greatest ways to save during detox weeks are the following.

  • Use up what you have

From envelopes to apples and disinfectant wipes — use it all up! I love digging to the back of my pantry, refrigerator and storage closet and finding little useful treasures. If I’m not sure how to use a particular kind of food we have, I Google recipes for that particular ingredient and see what kind of meal I can put together; I actually learned how to prepare a rutabaga during my last spending detox. The sign of a successful spending detox is a near-empty pantry, fridge and storage closet.

  • Eat at home and pack on-the-go-food

Meals out are a major budget killer and are often loaded with way more calories than you need. Make your own food each day and pack what you need before you leave the house, especially you, parents! Hungry kids while you’re out and about are really bad for your wallet. I’d also recommend that you plan meals for your week so you know what to prepare, when and how.

  • Unsubscribe from membership subscriptions and email shopping lists

Did you find yourself signed up for a few extra subscriptions over the past 21 months? We all did, especially because of being homebound during the pandemic. Now is the time to dial back your streaming services, gym and social club memberships that you don’t use, trim channels that are unnecessary and so on. One of my students audited her subscriptions and cancelled over $350/month worth of them!

  • Get fit while you detox

During your spending detox, it’s the perfect time to focus on your physical health, too. Rather than online shopping, pass the time going for a walk or even trying a YouTube workout. If you’ve got prepurchased class passes, use them up. Enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, skating, running and biking if the weather permits. I also like to take an inventory of what we have in the house, like vitamins, to see what we need to use up or replenish, perhaps even for free by using up loyalty points at the drugstore.

  • DIY everything

Do your own repairs. Paint your own nails. Clean your own house. Clear your eavestroughs. Do your laundry and dry cleaning. You get the point. If you can do it yourself, do it.

  • Supercharge your savings

I personally like to use the detox time to look at my habits and see if they can or should be shifted into a more frugal mode. For example, is my household being mindful to avoid food waste. Have our benefits claims been filed? Are the returns or exchanges done promptly? Are my hubby and I taking the opportunity to maximize our earning power while minimizing our costs?

There’s one last benefit to a one-week spending detox — reduced anxiety. Yup, it turns out that all this spending during the holidays is super hard on our mental health. When you remove yourself from the physical and digital checkouts, you’re going to feel rejuvenated. So enjoy less stress and more money!!

James Britton CFP, CLU, EPC profile photo
James Britton CFP, CLU, EPC
Financial Planner
Britton Wealth Management and Planning Consultants Inc.
Fax : 866-202-2935