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If you want more money in your bank account at the end of the month and better spending habits then a No Spend Challenge might be right for you.
Growing up my mom and I would hit the mall every weekend. I had ice skating lessons in a mall on Mondays so we’d go before those as well. And we were sure to make an extra trip to Target or the grocery store by the end of the week too.
I was conditioned from an early age to think spending money is a hobby.
I’m not the only one. The economy thrives on Americans spending more and more every year. We’re told to buy more to help our country. But it’s not 2008 anymore and the only people we’re helping are those with deep pockets and no concern for our retirement accounts.
Why should you do a no spend challenge?
A No Spend challenge can be a great way to kick off a big savings goal or help pay off the last of a lingering debt. Even more though, when you stop spending for a period of time you’ll learn a lot about yourself and your spending habits.
Completing a No Spend challenge can:
- Break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck.
- It can break addictions.
- It can build healthier emotional habits.
The result of a No Spend Challenge can be as simple as finding hobbies that don’t involve buying things or interests that are less expensive. Or it can be more complex.
We all feel the urge to go for a drink after work or eat out after a long day. Saying no to coping mechanisms that involve spending money forces you to find cheaper and healthier ways to handle stress.
Not all things that cost money are evil or detrimental but in a world that screams “BUY ME NOW” it’s essential to exercise our “NO” muscles every once in a while.
How a No Spend Month will save you money.
Obviously, you’ll have more money if you’re not spending any but all those saving can go down the toilet with one post challenge Taco Bell trip if you don’t know why you’re doing it.
When you give up spending money for a period of time, you’ll save money without thinking about it. When I budget for the mall I have such a hard time deciding what to spend my limited money on, whereas when I’m not spending I won’t even go.
I have a hard time sticking to a budget because moderation is so hard for me. I jump in or I stay out of the pool, there is no wading in my world.
No Spend months have taught me how to put moderation on auto-pilot. When you stop rationalizing about what you can spend you start thinking about why you spend.
Over the course of the challenge, you build will power. And that’s how I’ve acquired any semblance of moderation I appear to have. I promise it does not come naturally.
What Do You Spend on?
When people find out you’re doing a no spend challenge they’re quick to think of the big things like “What do you eat?” “Do you put gas in your car?” “Are we still able to hang out?”
But gas and groceries are the least of your problems. The true lessons come in the everyday spending. Saying no to the “I want it now” mentality and the “it’s such a good deal though” lie.
So the biggest piece of advice I can give you for a no spend challenge, and the thing that will make your month a long-term success is to consider the alternatives.
Here are some ideas in the areas that most people get tripped up in on a No Spend Challenge.
First of all, it is possible to go an entire month without going to the grocery store. This family did it with no grocery prep! This is a great way to clear out the pantry of lingering box meals and surplus ingredients you haven’t found a use for.
Before the month begins it’s a great idea to make a batch of freezer meals. Erin Chase at $5 Dollar Dinners is a freezer meal Queen and Once a Month Meals has a lot of free recipes with freeze instructions.
You can choose to still grocery shop during your No Spend Month, I’m the last person who’ll tell you not to. But consider the alternatives to shopping like buying groceries online to make sure there are no impulse buys. And envision the benefits of decluttering your kitchen. Creativity is good for the soul and stomach!
You don’t have to ride a bike 3 hours to work and back every day. No one in their right mind would suggest that to you! Heck, you don’t have to own a bike or a bus pass to spend less on gas!
For a whole month, you won’t be driving to restaurants, stores, theaters, etc. You won’t have to circle the block looking for parking or slow-ride down Central looking for something to do. You’ve already saved by just committing to the process.
And if you can bike to work that’s even better but it’s not necessary. Nobody binge spends on petrol. Put gas in your car.
Just because a friend wants to hang out doesn’t mean it has to be at a bar or coffee shop. There are friends that just want a wingman and friends who want spend quality time with you. I’ll take the latter.
Consider the alternatives. You can Netflix + Chill, polish off that bottle that’s taking up quadruple the space of the alcohol it’s holding, or play cards. If you’re invited to a shower or birthday party a heartfelt letter goes way farther than towels.
And when you need to get out of the house there are free events happening all over the place. Facebook and Yelp are a treasure trove of free stuff to do.
When you stop and say no you’re saving a couple bucks. But when you stop and think of ways to live and enjoy life without spending money, you’re learning to live frugally. And that super power will transform your finances forever.