Tackle New Year's financial resolutions with no-spend detox, says finance expert

For many people, New Year's resolutions include saving money and paying off debt.

To start attaining your goals and get your finances on track after the holidays, Lesley-Anne Scorgie, a Calgary personal finance expert, recommends a 30-day spending detox.

"What that means is you are turning the taps off to that habitual spending that you were doing throughout the month of December — and, let's face it, for many months before the holiday season as well," she told the Calgary Eyeopener

"Of course, you're going to pile up some savings, but the second benefit is that you're going to start to form some better habits going into the new year."

The finance expert says the best way to start is to cut out your non-essential items for one month.

"It's the latte, it's the nails, the rims for your car and anything that is non-essential," she said.

"This is the time in the year where you look at everything and you say, OK, what can I do without? Could I just make my coffee at home and make my lunch at home?"

She adds this also includes subscription spending like Netflix or Crave accounts and any monthly membership programs.

"We have done a little bit of research around this and the average Canadian is now close to about $100 a month in subscription spending between their streaming services and their fitness subscriptions," she said.

Once you take a look at what can be cut for the month, Scorgie says, it's important to actively transfer that money into your savings account — which can potentially go toward saving up for a trip or paying off holiday debt.

"At the end of your 30 days, you're going to want to have that reward," she said.

Scorgie says people on the program are saving an average of around $20 to $25 a day — adding up to about $700 each month.

"You possibly could have hundreds of dollars of savings that you could put toward those nasty credit card balances or maybe you'll save it for RRSP season," she said.

As well, if you have any environmental or weight loss goals this season, she says these tips will also help tackle those.

"You will watch your consumption go down," she said. "That is great for all aspects of the environment, great for your finances and, in so many cases, it's also very good for your waistline not to be out buying food that you don't need and packed with calories."

More tips for your detox

Scorgie says the following tips help her when she is doing a 30-day spending detox:

  • Try a no-spending month at least three times a year in order to boost savings. 
  • Look up recipes for any extra food in your fridge or pantry that needs to be used up.
  • If you have a stockpile of household supplies, make sure you use those up rather than buying more when they go on sale. For example, start going through your soaps, toothbrushes, paper towels, cleaning supplies and more.
  • Fall in love with your clothes again by being more thoughtful of your outfits and mixing them up.
  • Calgary is cold right now, but when warm days arrive, spend time outside rather than doing things that cost money. You can take advantage of free events in the city as well.
  • For date nights or get togethers with friends, host meals rather than going out for dinner. 
  • Get fit at the same time by using your gym membership or class passes.