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You may have heard about getting a payment holiday from a lender, but what about giving yourself a payment holiday?  If you’ve been on social media, you may have heard people talking about “no-spend” periods.  This can mean anything from not spending on anything they don’t actually need to get through the period to not spending anything at all.

If you need or want to save as much as you can, then you can try paring back your spending to the barest of essentials.  Then you can assess what, if anything, you can afford to add to that if there is a compelling reason to do so.  Here’s how it works.

Housing and basic utilities are necessities

You need a place to live and basic utilities such as water, electric and gas.  These days, the internet probably qualifies as essential, particularly with so many of us working from home.  Appropriate insurance cover is also a must.

Since you know that you’re going to be paying for these, you want to look for the best deal.  Surprising as it may seem, the best deal is not necessarily the lowest-priced one.  It’s actually the one which offers the best overall value.  Basically, as long as you can afford it, what you get for your money is more important than headline cost.

Groceries and personal-care items are necessities

While it’s true you need groceries and personal-care items, there is nuance here.  You do not necessarily need everything you are currently buying.  Even if you do need the items themselves, you do not necessarily need the brands.

Go through your cupboards, fridge and freezer and work out what you have now.  Commit to making a meal plan for the time period of your choice and making a shopping list to which you have to stick, no exceptions, no excuses (unless it’s a genuine emergency of course).  Since you know your existing inventory, commit to using that up before you buy anything to replace it.

Commit to reading the labels on what you are currently buying and comparing them with the labels on more affordable brands.  If you see little to no difference, then at least give the lower-priced brand a try.  You don’t have to change out your entire shop at once, just try a few different items each shop and see how you get on.

Plan your shopping trips so you’re always going on a full stomach and/or make sure you have some filling and healthy snacks (and water) with you, so you can fill up if you’re genuinely hungry (or thirsty) instead of having to buy convenience food.

Try creating a capsule wardrobe

The basic idea behind using a capsule wardrobe is that you create a selection of items which all work with each other so that you can make lots of different outfits from a relatively small number of pieces.  You don’t have to purge your other clothes, you just have to put them into storage somewhere.  If, however, it’s been a while since you last reassessed your wardrobe, this might be a good opportunity to do so.

Putting together a capsule wardrobe forces you to think about what you actually do and how you actually do it.  This means that, at the end of the exercise, you should end up with a wardrobe holding only pieces which fit with both your personal style and your lifestyle.  You can change up these pieces as often as you like using any items from your stored clothes.  You can, however, only buy anything new if one of your existing pieces is genuinely worn out and you have nothing left in your stored items which could reasonably be used as a replacement.

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