no spend challenge

No Spend Challenge – Are You Up For It?

  • January 10, 2021
  • 11 min read
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No Spend Month Challenge

My husband and I come up with crazy monthly goals. We just finished ‘Lose the thighs July’ and are now running lightly (lol) into, ‘Attitude Adjustment August’. Where we challenge ourselves to a no spend month. We have found that creating short term goals to keep motivated is key to obtaining our dreams. 

For us, Attitude Adjustment August is an attempt to change our attitude towards money for one month. It’s our no spend challenge where we only spend money to cover all of our costs and expenses and limit any other spending. It’s a kick in the butt to our unconscious spending habits and a reminder that we don’t always need it just because we can afford it. 

Now don’t get me wrong we are pretty good at having no spend days. It’s nothing new for us. To buy our first home, we lived off $2 Wendy’s burgers and oatmeal for a month, to get the last part of the deposit we needed.

However, being a Gemini, I do have the other side of my personality that screams ‘YOLO’ at the top of my fabulous inner voice. There is always a fight between the urge for the new Dyson Airwrap vs. a no spend day deep inside me. 

No Spend Days Help You Get Conscious With Your Money

Having a no-spend month has so many advantages. It helps you identify how much unconscious and unnecessary spending you make each month. Think about it, those small spends like grabbing a coffee and a snack splurge that you do on the reg, or forgetting your lunch, so you pop out for sushi or a wrap.

It all adds up, and none of it is adding value to your life. In fact, it is stealing from your ability to invest in your future. What you spend today, you cannot spend tomorrow. 

Recently I spent 3 hours with a client working on her budget and planning a strategy to build up her credit score and pay down her personal debt. She was shocked to see how her small bad financial decisions have really added up over the years. 

With some effort and a fair bit of self-control, she will have her debt paid off in no time. The moral of the story; make good financial decisions! A no spend month will help keep you on the right financial track.

No Spend Days Help You Buy Things You Really Want

Ok, I get it you are thinking Kim you are an absolute snore fest when it comes no spend days! No coffee and treats, are you kidding me? Well no, I’m kind of not, its only one month. I don’t care if you pick the shortest month of the year, but I recommend you give it a go. It’s simple, and it costs you nothing! 

I usually have a list of things I want in my head, or on my phone. Leopard print sneakers, a new smartphone, the Dyson Airwrap, seriously though how have I not seen this product before? I need it!

Oh right, back to encouraging you to save. You see, having a list helps me to ponder if I really need certain things. When we do a 30 day no spend challenge, I still think about those things, but the waiting helps me decide if they are actually going to benefit my life. 

If I am still thinking about the items a month later, then I really may want (cough) need them. 

No Spend Month Builds Your Self Control

You will find that you will have way more self-control after you stop spending for a month. 

When you were a kid and you wanted something that you shouldn’t have like more ice cream or cookies before bed, your mom would act as your self-control. “No!, you do not need it, it is not good for you.” We can all hear our moms’ usual comments in our minds, shake it off!

As an adult who is there to say “No!?” Who is there to knock your credit card out of your hand when you attempt to buy something you don’t need or that isn’t good for you? Not mom! Well, (I hope not, your mom) if she is still doing that, then write to me, I’ll give you some non-public advice baby face!

The 30 days no spend challenge will help increase your self-control. It will highlight the things that matter to you, and it will help build responsible spending habits. 

>> Find out how to build a budget here.

No Spend Challenge Saves You Money

Ok, that’s a no brainer; if you are not spending during your no spend month, where is the money going? Straight into your bank account playa! Where it should be when you are a responsible adult trying to get financially free. 

This is an excellent idea if you want to jumpstart your savings. A no spending day, week, month, or even a year can help you gradually pay off your debts. It is also a smart way to get your finances back into shape after overspending. January and February are great months for a no spend challenge. Just do not do it on your birthday month. Can you imagine? ‘Surprise, I got you nothing!’ 

Ok, so you’re convinced a no spend challenge is a good idea and want to try it for a month?

Here’s how to get started:

1. Create An Expense Budget

Expenses Budget
Mortgage / Rent
Giving
Water / Heat / Electricity
Insurance
Internet
Phone
Transport
Other

2. List Your Exceptions

For Attitude Adjustment August, we knew a few events would come up that may cost money. If you identify those ‘exception‘ items at the beginning, you will not feel guilty about spending while you’re there. I’m not into guilt! For us, they were five birthday parties. Yes, five, birthdays! It seems everyone I know is born in August except me.

Other exceptions might be one coffee a day or eating out one night a week. Whatever you feel like you need to be able to achieve a no spend month, do it. 

The concept isn’t to make your life an unsocial living hell (that was COVID).

The idea is to help you become aware of your spending and help you save more for your future. 

3. Make A Go To List

Make a list of things that will make not spending easier on you. Like a grocery list, or a list of places you can go for free to have fun or a list of things you like doing that cost zero dollars. It’s all in the preparation, so when your friends invite you to the Cove on a Friday night, and you start craving their margaritas, you have an alternative suggestion.  

4. Find Ways To Make It Easy

I love to cook but not like every day. It’s either a gourmet 3-course meal or “oh hey babe, you wanted dinner tonight, Ummm this is awkward?” Because of this, we tend to eat out a lot. My husband doesn’t like to cook, so it’s either me or take out. 

One way I have made the no spend challenge easier is I take out fast to cook protein like chicken breast or steak out of the freezer every morning. I make sure I have some fresh greens to make a salad, and I have my go-to dressing premade in the fridge. 

That way, on nights when cooking feels as hard as running a marathon after work, I can get dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes. 

Another thing that makes my no spending month more comfortable is to tell my friends what I’m doing. Instead of booking dinners out offer to have them over for a drink. They bring the wine I make a grazing board a few olives, feta, crackers. Boom night with friends just got cheap! (High five!)

A No Spend Month Is Easy

There is no magic formula. Don’t pull your card out unless you need something. A no spend month is really that simple. 

    Here are 7 ways to make no spend month challenge a breeze

  • Pack your lunch for work

  • Avoid the Mall

  • Invite friends to your house

  • Eat at home (No! not take out / cook something!)

  • Leave your credit and debit card at home and have a $20 on you for emergencies

  • Don’t go places that tempt you to buy things

  • Make a list of free fun things to do

It’s all about not using money in your everyday life. Look at ways in which you probably waste money during the week.

The No Spend Month Works

Taking up the no spending challenge is not always easy. Somewhere in the process, you might face a financial emergency. So it is still advisable to start with small goals. Later, you will be better prepared to go without spending for more extended periods.

Consider trying to have a no spend day or a no spend week. Or consider putting the cash you would have spent on eating out in a jar every time you choose to eat at home. You will have a stash of cash in no time. 

>> Find out how much you should be saving here.

    Here a few more tips for a successful no spend month.

  • Your no spend period should be at a time you are not pressured to spend. It would be hard to follow such a routine during the holidays or your birthday.

  • Avoid triggers that tempt you to spend. Such triggers could be fashion magazines or spending time with people who like to spend.

  • Figure out what you will do with your savings after the period is over. You can pay down your debt or boost your emergency fund.

  • Strategically put these goals around your home. Put small notes on the fridge or on the mirror. This way, you are constantly reminded of saving when tempted to spend on dumb things. I have sticky notes everywhere in my house as reminders of what to focus my attention on. 

A no spending period means a long term commitment to spend only on necessities. The main goal is to spend less during that period. Cutting back expenditure on such essential items eliminates unnecessary spending.

A no spend challenge really helps get your finances back on track from a little overspending. It can help cut down debt and also get you back into better financial habits.

If you enjoy the no spend month, consider trying to implement it regularly like a no spend day a week or a no spend week a month. It’s all about becoming aware of what we spend money on and ensuring that we are spending money in places that we will actually benefit from it in one way or another.

Its not about never spending and becoming a scrooge Mc D. It’s about learning to use money as a tool to enjoy life. To get the most value out of what you spend your money on.

You work hard for your money and there is no point throwing it around without getting a good return whether in wealth or enjoyment from what you bought.

It’s just 30 days, give it a go and let me know how hard you found it. Please feel free to add any tips that I may have missed in the comments below.

Author Kimberley Smyth

Kimberley is the US Country Manager for Financer.com. She has gained years of experience in small business management and has two successful start-ups under her belt. She now focuses her energy on helping others achieve financial freedom through smart money management and investment opportunities.

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