Shownotes: No-spend challenge
While I am on the subject of challenges designed to save you money (see my Cook your pantry post here) I thought I would look into a total no-spend challenge. Just because I can and because I like extremes – you know it is not like they don’t overwhelm me at all…
Anyway, my own mental shortcomings aside, in our current life season it will definitely not hurt to save a bit of money wherever we can, and for that reason a no-spend challenge seems very appealing.
What is a no-spend challenge?
A no-spend challenge is when you decide to not spend money for a predetermined period of time. Although it seems simple enough, there are a few exceptions to make this challenge possible, e.g. you are allowed to spend money on living necessities, you don’t have to cancel events that you already had planned and you may spend money that you already budgeted for certain things (if you so wish) plus your normal bill payments must still be honoured. There is just no extra spending.
The time period can be as short as a weekend, or as long as a year. The time doesn’t matter as much as the goal, which can be as wide ranging as to curb your spending or stop you from impulse shopping, teach you self-discipline, save money, or even identify where your money goes every month.
No spend challenges have many benefits including:
• Changing your spending habits to remove impulse purchases
• Accelerating progress on your financial goals
• Opening up your mind and pushing your boundaries
• Learning new skills to avoid paying for things
If this sounds like a good idea, then follow these 10 tips to make the challenge as painless as possible:
1. Be clear on the rules
Decide before you start what you will allow, and what not. You can give yourself a small budget to use on essentials during the time, or you can decide to buy what you need before starting. There will be necessities that you still need to pay or buy – make a list of what these items will be and decide that if something is not on that list, then it is not urgently needed. Things to go on the list: medical supplies, transport costs, heating costs, food (see no. 2) and events that you must go to.
2. Combine this challenge with a pantry challenge
A pantry challenge is where you decide for a certain period of time you will not buy any new food, you will only use the food that you already have. This is a great way to save money on your groceries, and will definitely make a dent in your spending habits.
For more info, see the post here
3. Meal plan
This goes hand-in-hand with the pantry challenge but can also be done if you wish to not do a pantry challenge. The old quote goes “if you fail to plan you plan to fail” – if you don’t plan you will end up buying things you don’t need, don’t want or never use and that wastes money. Or you will end up having to go back to the store to get things you forgot the first time, which means extra petrol and time and money. If you want more information on meal planning:
4. Make a list of free fun activities
Find out if there will be any free events hosted during the no-spend time. Make a list of things you can do for free, e.g. go to the library, take a walk through a park, go for a hike, etc. Just because you are not allowed to spend money doesn’t mean you cannot have fun.
5. Build up reserves
Stock up on staples before you start. Even better if you can get these staples at a good price. If you make your own products, e.g. cleaning products, cream, soap, etc. then make sure you have enough ingredients for the time you will be following the no-spend rules. Of course this doesn’t mean you spend all your money and blow your budget before the time! You are still allowed to buy essentials, so if you run out of toothpaste you are allowed to buy more. But you cannot justify buying a 20l coconut oil in the time that you are supposed to not spend money.
6. Unsubscribe from emails
Remove all temptations. Unsubscribe from brand or store emails, don’t read the store specials and stay out of the shops as far as possible.
7. Have an accountability partner
Get someone who can do this with you, or if not with you then at least have someone who will check up on you. That means you have to feel accountable towards someone, and report back to them with your failures but also your successes. This can be a friend, your partner, a colleague, even your kids or parents.
8. Use up everything
This should be logical but so many people miss this – use things up before buying a new one, and definitely before throwing it away. That means squeezing out the last toothpaste, turning the sauce bottle around so that the last drop can roll out and mending clothes until they can no longer be saved. If you cannot use it, or don’t want to, give it to someone who will instead of simply throwing it out. We should all be more mindful of our finite resources.
9. Get the family on-board
This challenge will be a lot easier if you have the blessing and support of your family, especially if you have a partner. Explain to them why you are doing this and how it will impact them. Negotiate if there needs to be a few concessions and then tackle this challenge together.
10. Don’t travel with money
Whenever you leave the house make sure it is without your wallet. You can carry a debit card with a bit of money (for emergencies) with you if that makes you feel safer. Other than that, ensure you have nothing on you that you can use to buy something, so that includes store cards, gift cards, vouchers, credit cards, cash, etc.
11. Don’t make a wish list
The hardest part of this challenge is to keep on reminding yourself that you are not depriving yourself. This is an investment into your future and should be seen as one. So while you are in the midst of this challenge do not allow yourself to make a list of things you are going to do once you are allowed to spend money, i.e. buying that dress that is going on sale, your morning latte, etc. This challenge should teach you new habits and new ways of thinking, allow it to do its magic.
Remember that a no-spend challenge is an opportunity to not spend any money. It will drastically reduce impulse spending, eating out, and quick trips to the store. It can help reset your budget and stick to it. It can also help you develop new habits for saving money. The more you do it, the easier it will be. So, if you have been struggling to save money or stick to your budget, a no-spend challenge is a good exercise to get back in control!
Easy enough right? If you want to join, then let me know in the comments!