Whether the kids need new back to school gear, you've just paid off your summer holiday, or you simply feel financially drained, sometimes our budgets can take a beating.
Spending your entire funds all happens so quickly, so how can you stop this from happening? Have you ever considered surviving for a certain period without spending a penny?
This is called a no-spend challenge and it could be just the answer to your problems! Encouraging a spending freeze on your budget can work wonders for your cash-saving efforts.
A no-spend challenge is where you completely cut out spending for a set amount of time and see how much you can improve your money handling situation. Great! Where do you start?
A no-spend challenge can be whatever you want it to be
It's important to remember that you define what you want your no spend challenge includes or doesn’t include. For one person, it might mean cutting out their morning coffee. For another, it might mean cancelling unnecessary subscriptions or not buying an outfit for every new occasion.
Whatever you choose, it's important to stay true to yourself and get what you want from it. It doesn't always mean cancelling all your bills and cutting yourself off from the rest of the world, although I do know people that have gone extreme minimalist post no-spend challenges! Find out how to create a spending plan that's in alignment with your values with Money Nugget's helpful article.
Speaking of bills, of course, you want to continue paying them, and you will need fuel or essential means of transport, and let’s not forget that everyone needs to eat. Before you take part in your own no-spend challenge, take inventory of everything you have and how much you need before you stop spending. Automate all of your payments in advance.
This is essential in order to make sure you don’t miss any important payments. There is no way your no-spend period can eliminate these kinds of costs. The idea is more to train yourself to stop indulging in unnecessary spending habits that you can’t afford. This Budget Sheet from Citizens Advice is perfect for looking at all your essential living costs and a great starting point for figuring out where you could cut down costs.
Determine how long it will last
Are you going to dedicate a day to ease yourself into a no-spend session, a week perhaps, or even an entire month? The choice is yours. If you've never done it before, start small. If you overcommit you might be more likely to relapse.
You might find it easier to complete a no spend challenge during the week, as it's easier to plan lunches and stick to a budget when you’re in work or bound by a schedule. If you're really looking to push yourself, you can commit to a no-spend month. This is perfect if you've overspent the previous month and looking to level your finances back out.
Have an end goal in mind
It’s a great motivator to have something to work towards. Are you saving for a holiday or looking to complete work on your home? A no-spend challenge is a fabulous way to help stack up the pennies when you're working towards an end reward. You can also celebrate little wins and rewards, check out how to celebrate milestones in Life Hacker's 'Secret to Financial Success' article.
No making excuses. There is never a convenient time to start saving money but today is the day! It's time to begin your no spend challenge... Leave the wallet behind If you have a hard time telling yourself ‘no’, then leaving your cash and debit card at home is probably the best answer. This way, even if you do get tempted to spend, you physically can’t.
Eventually your mindset will become ‘I have no money to buy this so I definitely don’t need it’ and hopefully, you will learn to prioritise and just be satisfied looking, but not spending.
Challenge every spending decision
For those trips where you do happen to have your cash handy, it’s super important to assess every spending decision. Are you buying two types of milk, yogurt, cheese and so on for family members on your regular weekly shop? Is the unbranded option cheaper? Do you have one of these at home already in a different colour?
If you answered yes to these things, it’s definitely worth reevaluating your spending habits during your no-spend process. It may not seem that expensive, but small purchases add up, especially on your food bill. Double check everything!
Use what you have
Most of us have freezers packed full of food, yet we still don’t know what to cook for dinner. This results in running to the store to grab something quick or worse, ordering an expensive takeout. It takes a tiny little bit more effort, but I’m sure with a little imagination, you could pull something together with what you already have.
Meal plan to save money
Meal planning is a great form of saving money that the super savvy have down to a science. It’s perfectly understandable that sometimes life gets in the way and that we can’t always plan, but for the most part, you can learn to start planning your meals based on what you have already in your cupboards and fridge/freezer. Who knows what kind of wacky concoctions you’ll come up with?
Shop your own wardrobe
It’s the same principle with your wardrobe. How many times have you panicked and bought a dress or suit for an event and then left it to gather dust in the back of your wardrobe? Instead of purchasing new, why not have a route in your wardrobe? You might find something you forgot you had…
Declutter and make some cash Nobody said anything about making extra cash during your no-spend period, so go ahead, sort through your entire house and flog items that no longer serve a purpose in your home. Stuck on where to start? Find out how I made a whopping £165 just for decluttering my home.
Entertain yourself for free
Entertainment takes a massive chunk out of our finances, in fact, it’s probably the worst offender! If you go to the cinema, you will probably end up buying popcorn, sweets and a drink. An afternoon out of the house usually means spending money on lunch, or treating the kids to ice cream, but entertainment doesn’t actually have to cost you a penny.
There are so many places you can visit for free, as well as outdoor activities like hiking or cycling. If you go to the park, take a picnic, or invite your friends over for movie night rather than hitting the expensive cinema. If you have kids, there are so many ways you can keep them entertained for free.
Keep yourself busy
Your no-spend challenge period is a great time to pull out the old to-do list and start tackling items on there that you can never find the time to complete. By staying occupied on tasks like DIY, cleaning, or anything else, you are keeping your mind off your lack of spending, and before you know it, it will all be over and you will feel so much more productive.
If you actively look for better things to do than shopping, eventually you’ll forget that you ‘aren’t allowed’ to spend money, and may prefer to fill your time with more meaningful endeavours.
Take it easy on yourself
It’s not the end of the world if you spend a little or it’s a special occasion that falls on your no-spend day. The important thing is it’s a blip, not a reason to give up.
Remember it’s not forever
Focus on your goals and reward yourself at the end of your no-spend challenge. Hopefully, you feel accomplished and are one step closer to managing your finances better.
Have you started or completed your no spend challenge yet? I’d love to hear from you! Let me know how you guys do.