The No-Spend Challenge
A no-spend challenge has the potential not only to help you save money (sometimes a lot of money) but it can also really help you change the way you look at money and potentially even change your whole financial future. For example, by doing a no-spend challenge for a month, you could nearly fund or even completely fund your starter emergency fund! So let’s talk about a no-spend challenge and how to accomplish it.
What is a no-spend money challenge?
A no-spend challenge is where you go for a week, two weeks, or even a month or more either without spending money or without spending money on anything besides the bare essentials. You could start with a one-week no-spend challenge the first time, and then do two weeks, and then go for a whole month. Or if you really want to turbocharge your savings and short-circuit your spending habits, you could go all in and start with a one-month no-spend challenge. Or you could do a no-spend challenge in just a particular category, if you have a particular budget-busting area such as clothing or entertainment.
What are the benefits of a no-spend money challenge?
The benefit of a no-spend challenge is that not only can you save a significant amount of money, but it can also help you to break money habits that you want to give up.
Say, for example, that you have gotten into the habit of buying clothes every week online at Target. Or toys for the kids. Or you’ve gotten into the habit of stopping at the store nearly every day after work for just “one or two things,” and then you inevitably leave the supermarket or big box store with more than you planned. All of that frequent or maybe even nearly constant shopping, even if it’s not a bunch of money at one time, will really bust your budget. But you can change your financial course more quickly than you think. And a great way to do that is with a no-spend challenge.
Are you ready to really reset your financial habits? Then do a no-spend money challenge and begin to change your life today!
How much money can I save during a no-spend challenge?
The amount of money you can save during a no-spend challenge depends on how long you choose to do the no-spend challenge for and how much you normally spend during that time. But let’s imagine that you’ve decided to go all in, and so you’re going to reduce all spending except for monthly bills like rent or mortgage and utilities and cell phone and fuel for your cars and such, as well as essential foods like some fresh produce. And let’s say you’re a family of four and that in a given month that you typically spend $600 on groceries, $200 on gas, $200 on entertainment, $100 on clothes, $100 on eating out, and $100 on stuff for the kids and other miscellaneous purchases. And let’s say that you decide to eat what’s in your fridge, freezer, and cupboards and pantry and save $400 on groceries, you cut down on your driving to save $100 on gas, and then you spend nothing on entertainment, clothes, or eating out for the month. So you could save $1,000 during that no-spend month! And that awesome amount of money you just saved can become your initial starter emergency fund. Score!
How can I succeed in doing a no-spend money challenge?
It probably won’t be as hard as you might think to be able to succeed at your no-spend challenge. First, if you do a full no-spend challenge, you will need to get organized and do some meal planning. (But you should do that anyway! :)) And you will probably need to get creative with your meal planning (download a simple weekly meal planning worksheet here), if you decide (as I would recommend you do) to cut your grocery budget during that time. You can of course search online for some great ideas for recipes that have the ingredients you have on hand that you are trying to use up, or you can just wing it and see what concoctions you can create. You’ll likely even find some new family favorites!
You can even make the challenge into a game, to help keep things from getting too serious. With your family, once you have determined a goal for how much you want to plan to save, see how quickly you can do it or if you can even exceed your savings goal—or even better, do both!
Other than that, it’s mostly just staying out of stores and restaurants and movie theaters and so forth and staying offline. Figure out what your triggers are for spending money, and then set yourself up for success by avoiding those trigger points.
Setting and then working toward your financial goals and dreams will also help you stay on track to reduce your spending. When you know what your financial priorities and goals are, it’s easier to keep your resolve to go for a time without spending because you know that whatever you might be giving up now is a small sacrifice compared to the big financial goals you can reach if you will stay the course and follow through.
Also work on finding new hobbies and activities that don’t cost money or that don’t cost a lot of money. For ideas, see this huge list of 73 fun free and cheap activities you can do.
What else can I do to start to get a handle on my financial situation, in addition to doing a no-spend challenge?
In addition to doing a no-spend challenge, you should create and start to follow a budget or spending plan. I know that sometimes budgets have negative emotions attached to them, but a spending plan or budget is simply where you tell your money where you want it to go. It’s that simple. You control the budget, so that your spending won’t control you. See this article for more information on how to create your first budget. And learn how to stick to a budget here.
To learn how to start getting control of your finances and really start winning with money, join my free financial success challenge, Save Your Money, Change Your Life. During the 7-day challenge you will learn how to earn more, save more, spend less, and invest more in order to right your financial ship, gain financial stability, and work toward building prosperity and wealth and achieving financial freedom.
As you work to get your financial life in order, you should start tracking your spending. You can track your spending with the free worksheet available here and you can receive a simple-to-use budget here.
A great free app to help you as you begin to manage your money is Personal Capital. With Personal Capital, you can see not only all of your bank checking and savings accounts and even your credit cards and other finance accounts, but you can also link your retirement and regular nonretirement brokerage accounts. This allows you to have a complete, overall picture of your current financial situation. And you can also view your account history to see how your accounts and overall portfolio have done over time. I love this very helpful tool and use it regularly! Sign up for your free Personal Capital account here.
Maybe the idea of doing a no-spend challenge this month is a little daunting—but you can do it! And when you do, it really could change the way you look at money and even change your whole life. It will strengthen your resolve to make positive financial changes in your life. Most things in life that are worth achieving require a little hard work or sacrifice, or both, and winning with your money is no different. But the rewards are so worth it! Changing your money habits so that you really succeed with your finances will have a bigger impact than most other things in your life. So the sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll reach the finish line! Get ready, get set, go! And I’ll help you all along the way! Leave a comment below, or post a comment in our new Families for Financial Freedom Facebook group.
Invitation to Share
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Join our closed Families for Financial Freedom Facebook group to get support and share ideas for how we can all improve our financial well-being by earning more, spending less, saving more, and investing more and reach our financial goals. You can do this! And we are here to help.