We get it.

December can be a challenging month financially. After all, no matter how great you are at following our Holiday Budgeting Tips, it’s really hard to completely ignore all the holiday hype, sales, promos and desire to buy and give.

However, turning over a new leaf (or at least hitting the reset button) in January is an age-old concept. So as you turn to other experts to help you clean up December’s less-than-desirable eating, sleeping, binge-watching, and over-socializing habits, we’d like to support your efforts to step into the new year on the right financial foot.

Starting TODAY, we’re inviting you to join us in a “No Spend January Challenge” — an NSJC, if you will. And if you’ve never heard of one, we’re here to guide the way!

Our ‘NSJC’ means trying, for the entire month of January, to curb all spending beyond your usual monthly living expenses and is a great way to get a giant head start on your financial goals for the year. Noticing where money leaks out of your bank account will help you cut back on future unnecessary expenses, save a bit more money, pay down some bills, and take a bite out of your holiday-related debt leaving you with a fresh slate for the rest of the year.

We’re not saying it’s going to be easy — it’s called a challenge for a reason. But a new year is all about trying new things, planting new seeds, starting new habits and expanding awareness. If you’re game, here are some guidelines to get on track:

Define ‘Necessities’

We all spend our money on little things throughout the day without even realizing it. Of course these amounts add up. A No Spend January means redefining what fits into the ‘necessity’ category. A good place to start is by writing down all your required monthly expenditures. Over time, we tend to lose sight of what’s going in and out of our accounts. So, not only will this help you define what is a necessity, but it’s also a really great way to highlight what you’ve been spending that’s NOT a necessity.

Note: Please pay your rent, utilities and grocery bills!

While reviewing your accounts ask yourself questions like: Does drive-through fall into the necessities category (yes, food counts as a necessity, but the daily latte probably does not)? Can you live with the free version of the music-streaming app? Are you using all the data you pay for each month? Would walking a little farther save you on parking?

There may not always be a no-spend option, but there is likely a spend less option.

It’s all about frugal fun

Now that you know where you can and cannot spend your money for the next month, it’s time to come up with some creative ways to entertain yourself (and potentially your family) for free!

Long winter days and holidays can tempt us to treat our friends and our kids to expensive activities just to keep busy. What if we resurrected the great times we had when we were kids? (Before we had jobs, expenses, real life to think about… Those were the days, weren’t they?) Well, this month, let’s bring those days back! Dig out the board games and jigsaw puzzles, see what’s going on at the library, hit the toboggan hills instead of the ski slopes, host a home movie night or a pot luck where everyone brings a dish… party like it’s 1999! Frugal style.

Pro Tip: Let your friends and family know your plan ahead of time so they can support you in your efforts, they might even want to get on board!

Get a jump on Spring Cleaning

It’s No Spend January and you’ve decided to skip the Sunday afternoon theatre release. Now what are you going to do all day? Spring cleaning is a perfect opportunity to find space for the new and get rid of the old. Turn up the tunes (on your free music app) and make piles for donating, recycling, upcycling, and reselling. Between any coins you might find in the couch cushions and a few quick sales on Castanet, you may even end up ahead!

Explore the great outdoors

Another great way to save money without compromising on everything fun is to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors! So, grab your friends and take advantage of our beautiful BC weather with a stroll through a new neighbourhood. (Don’t forget to bring a thermos of coffee, and window shopping only!) Not only will you save money, you’ll also be working toward those 2019 health goals. We call that a win/win!

Fake it ‘till you make it

We’ve all been through it. Emails and pop-ups from your favourite online stores make it too easy to log on and start filling your cart. On sale! Today only!

Here’s our trick: shop away! BUT… don’t press the ‘checkout’ button yet. Stick everything you want in your cart, then wait until next month to check back in. You’ll see the full cost of your ‘shopping spree’ and we’re guessing most of those items will change from ‘must-have’ to ‘meh. I’m okay without it’. And that means you didn’t really want them to begin with. #mindblown

When it comes to your No Spend January Challenge, remember that whatever you don’t spend is money in your pocket. Take a bite out of debt that carries a high interest rate; add money to savings that earns a high interest rate. Think of it as a way to jump start your financial health for 2020. Not only will you head into February feeling financially stronger, you’ll also have the tools to choose more No Spend Challenges throughout the year – anytime you like.

Looking for other ways to up your savings game in 2020? Well, it’s a good thing that’s one of our favourite things to chat about! Visit your local Interior Savings branch or call us at 1-855-220-2580 to explore your many savings options.