A recent student survey has found that 21 percent of Kiwis feel that they have barely enough money to live on, and while taking on a full or part time job is an option, there are other ways to make ends meet. For the New Year, why not consider having a no-spend year? Committing to a 12-month, no-frills spending plan may take some getting used to, but it can be done if you want your money to go a bit further. Here’s how you can make 2021 a no-spend year.
What is a no-spend year?
Having a no-spend year means giving up on all non-essentials, which means only paying for food, toiletries, utilities, rent, medication and school fees for the entire year. Doing this means having to adjust to a whole new way of living, as it’s an exercise in frugality. That means not going to the convenience store for a bag of chips when you’re famished, or buying a new dress just because it’s on sale. It’s about buying and paying for the things that you really need, and learning to be happy with the things that you have.
Travelling for free? Yes, it can be done!
If you’ve tried going overseas with your loved ones, then you know that it takes a lot of preparation before you can go on a holiday. Apart from choosing an airline, you have to book a stay at a hotel and map out destinations to visit during your stay. Planning a no-cost holiday is the same, except, you’re on the lookout for ways to travel without spending money.
There are various ways that students can travel for free, and one of them is by signing up for cultural exchange programs. Not only are your travel costs covered, but in some cases, all expenditures are paid for by the organisations behind these programs. Make sure to ask questions and do your research well so you’ll know that you’ll be able to have a no-spend year wherever you’re heading. Another way to travel for free is by looking for jobs that allow you to travel. One such company that offers this opportunity is Diverbo, and they offer English speakers free vacations to countries like Germany and Spain, and all you have to do is mingle with the locals so they can practise speaking English. You can also look for volunteering opportunities that offer free accommodation and meals in exchange for labour, such as working at a cattle ranch or a vineyard in France.
Buy meal staples
Buying food is one of the things that you absolutely have to do on a no-spend year. Having ingredients on hand to make different meals allows you to prepare your own food, and this way, you get to avoid spending on dining out or midnight runs to the convenience store. The key is to choose versatile pantry staples that can be cooked in a variety of ways. For instance, if you can only buy six types of food for an entire week, then buying eggs, potatoes, rice, chicken breasts, greens and fruit is your best bet. You can make scrambled eggs, a rice and chicken dish, a chicken salad, homemade fries and more with these ingredients. Make sure you have your ISIC student card with you whenever you shop so you can make the most of any available discounts.
Find ways to have fun for free
There are lots of ways that you can have fun or spend time with your friends without spending anything. Check out your school’s bulletin board for free concerts, or find out if there are free art showings or performances within your area. For a better - and healthier - way to have fun, ride your bike around town to get a free workout, then meet up with your friends at a park where you can have a nice chat. Don’t forget to take some water and snacks from home so you don’t have to buy them elsewhere.
Learn to repair and refashion
Perhaps one of the best ways to save money is to learn how to repair and refashion your clothes. If you need a new outfit, don’t buy one. Get that dress that has been hibernating at the back of your closet and see if you can tweak it to make it look better. You can change the length by cutting and hemming it, or attach enamel pins to the front to make a style statement. Meanwhile, that black slip dress that you wear to parties can be edgier if you wear a shirt underneath it and pair it with black boots. Unleash your creativity and see all the ways that you can change up your wardrobe with a needle, thread and a few embellishments or accessories.
Having a no-spend year can be a challenging way to live, but the satisfaction that you get from doing something to improve your finances is priceless. Knowing the difference between life’s necessities and frivolities can be the key to a better year.