Could you spend nothing, not a red cent, for 30 days?  You have to pay the mortgage or rent and keep the lights on, but all those extras, lunches out, pedicures, new clothes, would be off limits on your dollar diet. A 30-day money cleanse is an eye opening look at spending habits.

Here are three steps to make it through a 30-day no-spend challenge and the accompanying payoffs that provide a healthier financial future.

Step 1: Set the Spending Cleanse Guidelines
Time to look at your wants versus needs.  Write down all absolutely necessary monthly expenses, such as groceries, paying your mortgage, rent, and the utility companies.  Everything else is simply a “want” and will be off limits during a spending cleanse.

The pay-off:  You’ll finally set an actual budget.  Separating needs from wants lets you know how much money you genuinely need to live each month. 

Step 2: Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Preparation is key to a successful no-spend month.  If eating out is suddenly out, you have to prepare. Start with weekly menu plans and do some wise grocery shopping.  A no-spend month goes out the window after a long day of work and an empty fridge. Prepare friends and family too. You’ll be amazed how many times people want to meet your for dinner and a movie.  Have a prepared statement about your money makeover month. “I’m trying a no-spend cleanse” line of talk.

The pay-off:  Honesty around moneySurveys show people are more willing to talk about death than money.  Being honest and open about the almighty dollar with yourself, and those closest to you, can do wonders for your bank account.

Step 3: Just Do It
Day one will most likely go well, but the next 29 will be challenging.  If you slip and spend, don’t judge your natural inclination to open your pocketbook. Instead, notice why.  Do you buy out of boredom, or a need to fit in? Reward yourself? Find substitutes for spending. Hit the library for a new book or magazine, take power walks instead of power lunches, or become a master at the self-manicure.

The pay-off: Less stress around money. It’s simple math: you’ll have more money and less stress around money at the end of the no spend month. Sit with that sensation and incorporate new no- spending habits into your everyday life. Your financial health will thank you.