Every day there seems to be a new challenge on social media. They range from fun and entertaining to downright dangerous – but then you find one that’s interesting and thought-provoking, like the No-Spend Challenge. If you’ve never ventured into a no-spend challenge or financial freeze before, let me explain. As the name suggests, the goal for the challenge is to not spend any money for a certain time frame. For newbies, jumping into a no-spend month may be a bit too extreme, but a week or a weekend would certainly be more doable. Before we go any further, I need to address the elephant in the room…A NO-SPEND CHALLENGE DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU FOREGO PAYING YOUR BILLS!
Where to begin? If you’ve decided that you want to take on the challenge, it’s best to start with where you want to end. Take the time to determine your financial goals and what you are doing to achieve them. Once you know what you want, you can calculate the steps to get there.
Example: Let’s say that you want to be able to save another 5% of your income. Calculate how much that is and check your spending to see if it is possible to make that happen (if you don’t know how much you spend each month, now is a good time to create a budget).
Set clear rules and goals. Start by writing down your goals and your challenge rules and post them where they are visible to you every day. You want a reminder close by when the challenge gets tough. You might want to put one in your car, near your phone, computer, or wherever you do your shopping. Consider upcoming events that may call for gifts or food and plan accordingly. Get your friends and family involved! A great benefit of participating in a group challenge is the added layer of accountability.
But…how? Well, you know what the rules of the challenge are, but how are you going to make it through to the end?
- Get creative – Breaking a habit is hard to do. You are going to have to find alternative ways to live during your challenge and afterward. That means finding the best free family entertainment and kid-friendly activities while staying preoccupied, and motivated. Now that the weather is turning towards cooler temperatures, you can do more outside.
- Avoid impulse buying triggers – Does late-night insomnia send you browsing on Amazon? Will returning items to Target set you on a shopping frenzy? You must know what triggers your spending to avoid it. It will help to remember this when your willpower is weakening.
- Use this time to clear out your pantry, fridge, and freezer. Meal planning is a great way to save money and use items before they go bad. Why not plan some freezer meals leading up to your no-spend challenge? You can avoid spending money at the grocery store or dining out and make saving a habit.
- Plastic counts. Consider making your credit and debit cards off-limits during your challenge. On the other hand, if you have a bunch of gift cards lying around, now is the time to use them!
A no-spend challenge doesn’t have to be a “one-and-done” deal. You may find that you enjoy the process and, of course, the outcome of saving all that extra cash! Consider trying these challenges throughout the year to help you save for your next vacation, or to finally break free from the cycle of debt.
Until next time,