Zero Day Spending

One of the things we enjoy about being personal finance bloggers is reading what the community is doing to save, invest, and motivate others. We discovered a great post entitled How I’m Saving $18,432 With The Zero Day Challenge that really struck a chord with us.

If you read the archives of our blog where Dr. SoS and I discuss our history, you may recall that at the end of last year we both left corporate jobs. We both previously earned a decent salary that allowed us to afford pretty much anything we wanted. I took an early retirement package and Dr. SoS went into private practice. I started a new career, but we now live on about half of our previous income while Dr. SoS builds her new practice. This made us take a hard look at our spending and cut out non-essential purchases. For me, this means no more alcohol, books, and video games. We never really ate at restaurants as we are both great cooks, but we do enjoy a nice meal on occasion. That being said, it will be a while before our favorite Mexican, Sushi, and Thai restaurants enjoy our patronage again.

The cool thing about Zero Day Finance is that it is less about budgeting and more about watching how you spend your money. In some ways, this reminds me of the Latte Factor as described in David Bach‘s book The Automatic Millionaire®. Tracking how you spend money and focusing on increasing the number of “Zero Days” where you spend $0 is an awesome way to gamify your spending habits while saving money.

Dr. SoS and I discussed this on a recent walk around the lake where we live. Now that we really are not spending money like we used to we wondered how this would help us. The one area where we would benefit is our grocery shopping. Sometimes, we feel like we go to the grocery store every day. This keeps less food in our refrigerator and decreases the possibility of it going bad, but it also increases the temptation of spending money on food we really do not need. If we did better planning our meals for the week, we could make one trip, limit our spending to just those items on our list, and potentially save money.

I believe we are very atypical of the average family with regard to our spending habits, however we have some older kids who are more like the average spender. Our two oldest daughters suffer from the Latte Factor and spend far too much money on expensive coffee. It does not help that one works at a local coffee shop and the other works at Starbuck’s coffee. Our oldest son and his girlfriend spend money on fast food rather than buying groceries and making food at home. Not only are these things unhealthy they are also unhealthy for their bank accounts. This is where I see adopting a Zero Day attitude to their spending would be immensely helpful. If they were serious about their spending and the only thing they were going to spend money on in a day was a coffee, they might think twice about buying the coffee in order to put that big ZERO on their calendar.

During our next family dinner when all the kids are at our house, we are going to challenge our three oldest money making children to a Zero Day challenge for a month. My hope is that it will open their eyes to their money habits and be the catalyst for changing from a spending to a saving mentality.

Thanks to David for the great blog and for giving us such a wonderful idea to help us and our children. I recommend that you challenge yourself to a Zero Day mentality and let us know how it goes. Remember that every Zero Day is a better day for your future!

Keep saving,

Mr. SoS


  1. Thank you for the shout out! I hope the Zero Day Challenge ends up working for you!

    The biggest thing for me was my mental health. I was buying things to make myself feel happier. Obviously this isn’t a long-term solution, so I kept buying things to feel good. After 6 months of doing the Zero Day Challenge, I’ve found more ways to feel happy, and I no longer reach for my CC when I feel sad.

    In fact, I barely buy things for myself. Now if I’m spoiling anyone, it’s my fiancee or other family members.

    1. David, thank you for giving us the idea of increasing our Zero Days in order to save money. We were already nearly out of “buy to be happy” mode. What this does for us is be more mindful of our spending and think about if we really need what we are buying or if we can make another Zero Day!

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