Do you like a good challenge? How about cutting back on some of your expenses by not shopping for a week or month? Sounds incredulous, right? You earn a living and spend money in order to live. However, doing a financial challenge, such as a no-spend week/month, might just be the eye-opener you need on the best ways to save and spend.
Think of a no-spend challenge like a dietary detox that many people do after the holidays. After eating too much fatty foods , you feel bloated, fat and unhealthy. Then, in the next few days, you vow to not eat meat and only opt for fruits and vegetables. You want to re-set and re-balance your system.
In a similar way, if you spent a lot of money during the last few months, you might want to realize in what aspect you have been overspending. At the same time, you want to curtail spending to re-set your finances.
Saving money is a huge factor for doing the no-spend challenge. Did you know that according to Bankrate, around 65% of Americans have little to no savings? This challenge could very well help you establish your savings or add more money to your savings fund.
Basically, you want to cleanse your system out of spending temptations, at the same time save some money. The no-spend challenge works like a detox, but with the added bonus of some extra funds saved at the end of the challenge.
Why Would You Do a No-Spend Challenge?
You might wonder why anyone would try to restrain themselves from spending. Well, a no-spend challenge is actually an excellent exercise for the following reasons:
You want to analyze your spending patterns
By doing a no-spend challenge, you come to realize where you mostly fail when it comes to spending? Is it the catchy marketing traps in the mall? Are you susceptible to Amazon’s online ads? Do you easily give in to visual temptations on billboards? When you restrain yourself from making a purchase, you also come to realize which of these have the most significant pull on you.
You want to save money
A no-spend challenge is by no means spending zero dollars during the challenge period. You still have bills to pay; you need food to eat and gas to get around. However, you can pick a category where you believe you spend the most and curtail your spending on that category. It can be dining out, clothing, or entertainment. What you DON’T SPEND on your chosen category, you get to pocket as savings.
You learn to value money better
If in the past you have been reckless with money, the no-spend month teaches you to value your money better, hence think about your purchases more meaningfully. If you have to wait for the entire month to be over before you purchase the latest gadget, you also get an entire month to think whether this purchase is necessary and valuable. It’s a sound practice for the financial mindset, which hopefully, will teach you to be more careful and aware of your next purchases.
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How To Do a No-Spend Challenge
First, decide on the duration of the challenge. You can choose to do it on a weekend, for one week or for an entire month. Second, set your rules for spending. For example, you may want to stock up on food and other personal needs prior to the challenge and lock away your credit or debit cards. Or you may just set a budget in cash and use the cash envelope system for your basic necessities to use during the challenge.
As mentioned, there are allowed spending on the challenge such as utilities, internet/phone, mortgage/rent and other necessities. What you may want to cut during the challenge are activities, eating out, coffees, clothes, hair/nail care, and others that are not needs.
Tips in Winning Your No-Spend Month Challenge
If you’re new to this challenge, then there are things you need to know and prepare to win this challenge.
1.Gather your bare essentials.
If you’re prohibiting yourself from eating out for the entire month, then you should stockpile on goods that will last you for the entire challenge. If you happen not to have pasta, cheese, sauces or bread in your pantry, there’s a good chance that you’ll order take out or eat out. You need to have the right inventory of the goods so that you’re well-equipped for the entire month.
2.Identify alternatives for spending.
This is the key to finishing the challenge successfully! A no-spend challenge can get on your nerve, or on your family after some time. You need to identify fun alternatives beforehand so you can divert their attention to a fun, but a free alternative. You can’t go to the movies? Make sure you have some board games to keep the children entertained on Friday nights? Keeping your minds and hands occupied during the challenge will also keep your money in your wallet.
There are so many things you can do during this period that won’t cost you money so get creative. Make sure you have ideas prepared before you even get started with the challenge.
3. Get everyone on board.
This challenge may not only affect you but also your family. What if your spouse doesn’t know that you’re on a no-spend week/month and he wants to eat steak in your favorite restaurant? That could be trouble waiting to happen. Your kids may likewise demand pizza, fries, and milkshake, but you can’t give it to them. Are you prepared for the complaints and tantrums?
You have to make sure that your family knows why you’re doing this challenge. It could be to save some money for your next holiday or to have those ugly kitchen backsplash tiles finally replaced. Whatever the reason is, getting their nods of approval will make the challenge stress-free.
4.Create a visual board.
Having a visual board with your financial goals may boost your motivation as well. When you are confronted with it daily, you will feel compelled to follow through on this goal and not give up. Fun tip: For extra motivation, join This Mama Blogs frugal community to share your progress with us!
5.You can make exceptions.
Since this is a personal challenge, you get to set the rules. Therefore, you can make exceptions. For instance, the kids can eat out if it’s a treat from their grandparents. You may eat your favorite steak if you have vouchers and gift cards to cover the entire cost. You can go as creative as you can, and still be frugal while having fun.
6. Set a shopping rule for things that aren’t on your list.
When you’ve convinced yourself there’s a need to purchase something, delay the purchase for a day, week or more before you go to the store. Chances are, you’ll find a solution to your problem without spending or you might realize later that you didn’t need the item as much as you thought you did. This will work for you most if you are an impulse buyer.
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A no-spend challenge is a fun and challenging way to save some money, at the same time allowing you to close inspect and examine your spending habits. It’s a great way to realize that spending money even on little things do add up. Whether you end up with a little or huge savings at the end of the months, what counts the most are the lessons that the no-spend weekend/week/month have taught you.