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How I went from 'never saving' to putting away $250 a week

A new trend has helped some Aussies cut their spending and improve their savings.

A Gold Coast woman concerned about her financial future has been able to go from never saving, to putting away hundreds of dollars a week by embracing No Spend January.

The trend, which gained momentum on Instagram and TikTok, builds on January being a time to reflect and reassess for the year ahead, resetting bank balances and habits by resisting the temptation to buy anything non-essential for the whole month. No new clothes, coffee runs, no dining out.

Georgia Hay, 23, decided to take part in the trend and has managed to successfully cut her spending on things like alcohol, eating out and ordering in, completely turning around her approach to saving.

Aussie woman Georgia Hay shown in a black dress (left) and a white singlet (right) saving.
Aussie woman Georgia Hay is saving hundreds during No Spend January. (Source: Supplied)

"I haven’t travelled for about two years," the marketing graduate told Yahoo Finance. "And with the increase in rent and household spending, I haven’t been able to save money."

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"I have tried to save before and have been on a strict budget but I've not really stuck to it. Now, I budget for my grocery shop, I don’t go out for lunch and I meal prep. I’ve cut back on spending and just buy the necessities."

The young Australian admitted the future was "a bit scary at the moment" given the stubborn cost-of-living crisis putting pressure on those of all ages. But setting a clear no-spend goal for a manageable length of time has been "really good".

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"I’m seeing a lot more savings, which is nice," Hay said. "I am saving $250 a week. It’s great to have those savings there to travel and build up my savings for the future – and a house.

Hay admitted she may have overspent in the final months of 2023, and she isn't alone. Compare the Market found 44 per cent of Australians were concerned about how much money they spent in December.

Georgia Hay pictured smiling at the camera (left) and graduating from university (right). Source: Supplied
Georgia Hay says No Spend January is allowing her to kickstart 2024 with a new mindset. (Source: Supplied)

"Living on the Gold Coast, it’s a bit of a party culture. I did spend a lot around November and December with Christmas, and going out. I also needed some downtime," Hay said.

So, how is she spending her time now she's partying and spending less? Hay said her January social calendar consisted of healthier pursuits such as going to the beach, walking and exercising outdoors.

She wants to take the lessons she's learned into February and the rest of the year, but said she "probably won't be as strict".

TikTokers including Rachel Eustace and Sara Noel are embracing No Spend January. Source: TikTok/rachel.eustace/Sara_ _Noel
TikTokers including Rachel Eustace and Sara Noel are embracing the social media trend. (Source: TikTok)

Aussies suffer from 'buyer's remorse' in January

Compare the Market’s Chris Ford said Aussies traditionally start splurging from November’s infamous Black Friday sales, through December and over the new year, with many feeling "buyer’s remorse" later on.

"January is often a reset period," he told Yahoo Finance. "Things like No Spend January are fairly recent. It’s a couple of years old and is becoming more popular with the younger generation."

Ford said the holiday period could be "an expensive cross to bear", from Christmas presents, to food, fuel and accommodation.

"While it’s not uncommon for Aussies to let their budgets fly out the window during this time, reality starts to sink in when we notice our savings account dwindling, the credit card bills roll in, or when we’re sent a reminder about the buy now, pay later debt we’ve got ourselves into."

No Spend January tips you can keep using all year round:

'Unexpected' benefits of spending less money

An unforeseen benefit of No Spend January is a reduction in the number of unwanted items that make their way into landfill, according to plastic-free advocate Anita Horan.

"One thing that has really been bothering me is all the information we are learning about how grossly inadequate our recycling system is and that we are running out of land to dump our rubbish," she told Yahoo Finance.

"Although I recycle diligently, I try to make my purchases with the view that the plastic may become landfill so it helps me to justify plastic I don’t need."

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