Best tips for your No Spend Challenge.
I just completed my first No Spend Month and it was NOT easy! The temptation to buy “this” and “that” just would not go away. I never realized just how many random items I buy, until I forced myself to quit buying them.
However, at the end of the month I learned a lot about my spending mistakes, created new habits, and saved over $400! I am calling it a success! Have you ever done a No Spend Challenge?? Here’s how it works!
Why Have A No Spend Month
A No Spend Month, or No Spend Challenge, can be beneficial to everyone! It will help you save money, but it can also do so much more! Here are a few benefits to a no spend challenge.
It can help you:
- Pay off your debt.
- Understand your spending weaknesses.
- Reach money goals.
- Develop new spending habits.
- Save more money.
- Build an emergency fund.
I consider myself very frugal and good with money, but there was still so many things I learned from this challenge about myself. Like, I struggle saying “No” to my kids! If you consistently find yourself overspending on your budget, then a No Spend Month can help you break that trend.
What Is A No Spend Challenge
A no spend challenge is a challenge you give yourself to stop any unnecessary spending.
I participated in a No Spend Month, but if that feels to daunting for you try a no spend day, weekend or week. The most important part of the challenge is that you are spending less than you normally would.
When you start your No Spend Challenge you will need to set up some rules for yourself. The exact rules will be different for everyone, because we all have unique goals, priorities and needs.
First, decide what you will be allowed to spend money on.
You will still need to spend money on the necessary items you need to live, such as:
- Medical Expenses
Next, make a list of items you will not spend money on for the length of your challenge. Many of us cut out things like:
- Fast Food/Restaurants
- Concerts/Expensive activities
- Impulse Buys
Writing the rules down is the first, and very important step, of committing to the challenge.
Remember, you make your own rules! Decide what will work best for you and your family. But, also be willing to stretch yourself out of your money comfort zone.
No Spend Challenge Tips
Truthfully, I assumed since I am naturally frugal this challenge would be easy for me. Boy, was I wrong!! It’s hard to see just how much money we unnecessarily spend until we are forced to stop cold turkey.
But, I made it through (with only a few missteps), and, so can you! Here are a few of the tricks I learned along the way to make the challenge a little more doable.
1. Focus on Needs Vs. Wants
Throughout your No Spend Challenge you will come to many decisions where you will need to decide if a purchase is something you should buy or pass on. Sometimes this decision will be an easy one, but other times it will be much more difficult.
The best way to make this decision is to decide if this is a Need or a Want. A need will be something you must have in order for survival. A want is something that would make your life a little more comfortable or enjoyable, but is not necessary.
There is nothing wrong with buying wants, but during the challenge this is something you should pass on.
Remember, needs and wants will be different to each person, so use your best personal judgement.
2. Find an Alternative
During my no spend month there were many times I felt I needed to buy a certain item. These were things that I felt were necessary. But, instead of running out to the store, I tried to find an alternative item to use instead. This strategy worked so many times!
For example: I needed tortillas for dinner one night, but had forgotten to buy them at the store. Instead of running into the grocery store to buy more (and probably a couple other things while I was at it….) I made my own tortillas using ingredients I already had at home!
Try to find ways to make or use something that you already own, rather than spending money on something new. Be creative and search around your house for ideas. I think you might surprise yourself!
3. Look For Free Activities
One of the biggest struggles during the No Spend Challenge is to stop spending money on activities. Fortunately, there are many fun and free forms of entertainment you can enjoy.
Look for free movies at the park, outdoor concerts, free museums, etc. You could also host a game night at your house or invite friends over for dinner and a movie.
4. Avoid Stores That Tempt You To Spend Money
Target is my spending weakness! I just really, really want to buy all the pretty thing inside that store, and every time I shop there I end up spending more money than I had planned on spending.
So, when I am trying to have a No Spend Month, I know that I will need to avoid Target at ALL COSTS!
What store tempts you to spend money? Maybe it’s Costco, Dollar Tree, or the Mall. Whatever it is, do not step foot in that store for as long as you are participating in the challenge. Avoiding the store will help you avoid the temptation!
5. Stay Busy
If shopping is a habit you find yourself doing when you are bored, try to find some new hobbies to keep you busy.
Here are a few ideas:
- Read a new book (from the library of course!)
- Train for a 5k
- Start a side hustle
- Learn a new skill
- Go on a hike
- Teach yourself how to bake
- Clean out your house (and sell the clutter!)
- Start a garden
6. Join Freecycle
Another great way to find alternatives to things you need to buy is to look for a similar item that is being given away for free. Freecycle is a great resource for this! This is a completely free website where you can give your stuff away for free and get items you need, also for free! It’s really a win-win for everyone involved!
If there are items you are wanting to buy, check Freecycle first to see if you can find something similar, for free!
7. Follow The 48 Hour Rule
The 48 hour rule is my secret sauce to stop impulse spending. It’s a very simple rule to follow, really.
The 48 hour rule means that whenever you feel tempted to buy something that you didn’t plan for, WAIT for at least 48 hours before buying it.
These 2 days gives you the extra time you need to help you decide if it’s an item you truly want to spend money on or not. Most of the time when I use this rule, I decide that I didn’t want the item after all and I save myself some unnecessary spending (I love when this happens!!!).
8. Find A Support System
When I started my No Spend Month, I also created a facebook group for others to join. This was a great place to help us all encourage each other and share successes and struggles throughout the month.
During your no spend challenge it is important that you find a support system to help you through it. This might be a spouse, your family, some good friends, or you are welcome to join my Frugal Facebook group.
9. Unfollow Social Media Influencers
If you are following any social media influencers who tempt you to spend money, unfollow them! You can always follow them again as soon as your challenge is over! There is nothing wrong with doing what is best for you and your budget.
After The Challenge
Once you have completed your challenge (yay! congrats!) you might be tempted to go out and buy everything you didn’t get to buy during your No Spend Month…do not do this!!! That would defeat the entire process of this challenge.
Instead, use the extra money you saved in a wise way. Use it to pay off your debt quicker, or save for something important.
Hopefully, at the end of the challenge you have developed a few new spending habits. Maybe you have learned how to stop impulse buying or perhaps you aren’t in the habit of going out to eat as much. Bring those new habits with you into the next month. Keep them in your life so that you can continue to save money and live frugally.
A No Spend Challenge can help you in many ways. Even though it was so hard for me to do at times, I made it through. And, I’ve decided I want to do this challenge every September!
Let me know if you have any questions about how this challenge works! I’m always happy to help in any way I can!