A no-spend challenge can drastically change your finances for the better. Learn how to do it so that you can save money for the things you really want.
How To Do a No Spend Challenge and Save More Money
Have you ever heard of a no-spend challenge before? A no-spend challenge is a set period of time, usually a weekend, week, or month where you only spend money on necessities like your bills and no money on anything else. You can then take the money that you saved by not buying unnecessary items and boost your savings or start an emergency fund.
No spend challenges can come in handy when you need to get back on track after a vacation or an emergency, if you need to stop impulse spending to get your finances back under control, or if you have just realized you don’t have enough money coming in to cover your monthly expenses.
How To Do A No-Spend Challenge
Before you begin your no spend challenge you will need to decide on how long you would like the challenge to last. Many families opt to start with a weekend or a week to get used to the idea before jumping into a month-long challenge.
No matter how long your no-spend challenge will be, you will need to make some preparations in advance. You will need to make sure that you have plenty of household supplies, hygiene supplies, and food on hand before you begin.
Great Books/Resources on No Spend Challenge
Communication is key to getting everyone on board. This is a great learning activity for kids too. After you set the rules and do your prep work, have a meeting with everyone in your house. Tell them what you are doing and tell them why. This will prepare them for the weeks or month ahead.
Talking to your kids will help them understand not to ask for extra things during this time period. It will also help them understand what’s going on.
What To Cut
One of your biggest expenses is probably food, and without something like a no-spend challenge, you might not even be aware of how much money you are spending on food. Not just on groceries, but on that afternoon coffee, lunch out with a co-worker, or stopping in to grab dinner on the way home because you just don’t feel like cooking.
Entertainment can be another big expense where you might not realize exactly how much you are spending, especially if you don’t plan for those activities in advance. Movies, bowling, concerts, and snacks to enjoy during the activity can all add up to be very expensive very quickly. Just because you are participating in a no-spend challenge doesn’t mean that you can’t have any fun though. There are lots of free entertainment options available to you and your family.
Set yourself up for success during your no-spend challenge by leaving credit/debit cards at home. If you have to run in the store for something like fresh bread, milk or produce, only carry enough cash in to pay for what you need. That way you won’t be tempted by any incredible bargains you might see while you are there.
What is allowed
Here’s what most people allow themselves to spend. These are typically things that you and your family need to survive.
- Food for meals
- Bills (electricity, mortgage/rent, etc)
And if you find that you have to spend some money during your no-spend challenge don’t beat yourself up about it, and don’t give up. Sometimes the unforeseen happens like a flat tire or a broken window and you have to take care of them. After the fix, just keep on with your no spend challenge like nothing ever happened.
Prepare Ahead of Time
Preparation is a very important part of the challenge.
During your no spend challenge it might be a good idea to unsubscribe from all of those emails that flood your inbox trying to get you to buy something. This can help to reduce your temptation to indulge in that really great deal. This also helps to clear out your inbox, and if you find you just have to sign up for those emails again later, you might get a “new” customer discount.
A well-stocked pantry means that you always have food in the house to prepare a meal, which can give you peace of mind, and help you to save money because there is no need to order out. During your no spend challenge you will need to prepare your meals out of what you have in the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. This is a great time to eat up what you have so that you can rotate your food stores. This is also a great time to learn to start meal planning if you aren’t already.
Don’t forget to plan free some activities you can do as a family. There are so many to choose from. You can check out this article for more ideas – No spend Weekend Activities for Kids and Families
Now you have more time on your hands
If you find that you have spare time on your hands during a no-spend challenge it can be a great time to declutter and organize your home. Did you know decluttering your home can save you money? It’s true, plus your home will be a lot cleaner and more relaxing to spend time in. If you aren’t sure how to begin decluttering your home you might find these tips helpful. You never know, you might even find something to sell that can help your budget.
What to do with your savings
The best thing you can do at the start of your challenge is to decide ahead of time where the money you save is going to go. Maybe this challenge was set up for a home project or a family vacation. Maybe you need to pay off some bills. Either way, it is important to figure out your “WHY” ahead of time. This will provide the motivation to complete the challenge.
Don’t just stop spending for a week and then splurge at the end. Instead, put all the money you saved into a pre-determined place i.e. a separate savings account or paying off a credit card.