Challenge yourself to avoid spending money for one month and use this money challenge chart to keep track of your progress. Decide ahead of time what you will purchase during your no spend month (see tips below). These exceptions should be things that you can’t and shouldn’t go without and they can include things such as food and gas. No, a mani-pedi isn’t something you cannot go without :). At the end of the month, you might be able to pay off some debt or save some money for a rainy day.
A no spend challenge can help you get your spending under control or save up for a rainy day or large purchase. These no spending tips will help you get your budget under control.
What is a No Spend Challenge?
This type of activity is often used when people want to save up for a larger purchase like a vacation or home improvement project. By reducing their spending in every possible area, they can put more money into savings.
Why you should consider a no spend challenge
No spending for a month is not always easy but you will reap many benefits.
There are lots of different reasons that people participate in these types of challenges besides saving money. But, one of the most common reasons is to find out what expenses truly mean that much to you.
If small expenses are making it impossible for you to save for what’s really important in your life. You may not even be aware of what those expenses are. This budget activity can help you truly see where your money is going.
How to participate in this challenge
If you’re planning on participating in an activity like this, you need to set a few ground rules first. The most important consideration is how long the spend free period will last.
Many people opt to reduce their spending for one or two months. Others may choose to participate for 6 months or to make it a more permanent lifestyle choice.
If you want to do this activity for a longer period of time, you might want to relax the rules a bit. Then, you could allow yourself a set budget, like $50 per month, for optional expenses.
Set the rules
Once you’ve decided how long you’ll be cutting back on your spending, you need to decide what categories of expenses you’re cutting back on.
You probably won’t be able to reduce your spending to nothing. You’ll need to go grocery shopping, pay your mortgage, and purchase your prescriptions every month. Typically household bills like utilities aren’t included in a no spend challenge.
But, you can decide which optional expenses you will be eliminating. Popular choices including not spending on restaurant meals, new clothing purchases, and nights out with friends.
So, it makes sense to make a list of the expenses you are allowed to continue throughout your no spend activity. Then, anything that’s not on your list should be put off until the period ends.
How to stay motivated
Eliminating extra expenses is definitely not easy. And, you may find temptation gets the best of you. So, one of the best ways to stay motivated is to post a picture or a note prominently in your home reminding you of your goal.
This can be something as easy as a picture of the place you want to vacation to. Or, you could have the kids draw a picture of the boat you are saving up for. Just be sure to post it on the refrigerator or the bathroom mirror so that you see it every day.
Tips for having a no-spending day
As you participate in this no spend challenge, you may be surprised by how many things you’ve been spending money on without even thinking about it. If that’s the case, here are a few tips to help you make it through the first few days.
- Bring your lunch, snacks, and coffee to work with you each day.
- Read your local newspaper online instead of buying one.
- Invited a friend over to watch movies on television rather than heading to the movies.
- Skip the pedicure and manicure and do your own nails at home. Or, give them a break from polish.
- Take the kids to the park to play rather than to a play center or mall arcade.
- Unsubscribe from sale alerts or deals newsletters so you aren’t tempted.
- Put the sales papers from the newspaper directly into the recycle bucket without looking at them.
- To make this challenge really successful put your money into a CD or an investment account to maximize your returns.
Once you’ve reached the end of your no spend challenge, you should take a hard look at the types of expenses you’ve given up. Evaluate whether or not they’re things you want to go back to spending your money on.
If not, continue to save by eliminating those costs. Set a brand new goal for what you’ll do with your savings.
You can do more challenges in the future when you feel your spending is getting out of hand. For example, some people like to try a no spend November to save for Christmas.
If your financial situation is pretty bad you might want to try a no spend year where you cut all discretionary expenses (i.e. nonessential spending) or, in other words, wants rather than needs. Set your no buy year rules and try to stick to them. Even if you stick to them half of the time you will improve your financial situation.
How to not spend money
Firstly, make a list of all your expenses (see our free printable need or want expense chart).
- Go through each line of expenses and decide if it is a need or want.
- Now, go through each line that was categorized as a want and try to find a free alternative. For example, if you are spending money on the movies watch television at home.
- Decide which expenses you will commit to reducing or eliminating.