If you’ve been looking for ways to save more money, you might have come across the idea of a “No Spend Challenge”.
A No Spend Challenge is a simple idea really. It’s a set period of time (maybe a weekend, week, or month) where you focus on avoiding all non-essential spending.
It’s a great opportunity to save some extra money, get a better understanding of the motivation behind your spending, and re-set your spending habits if you’ve wandered off track.
One of the nice things about a No Spend Challenge is that the rules are flexible and you can really tailor it to your own situation.
You can make your own decision on what purchases will be allowed, what will be banned, and what you’ll make exceptions for. After you’ve set your ground rules, the challenge is sticking to them for the length of your challenge.
My No Spend Month Challenge
I’m going to be participating in my own No Spend Month Challenge in May (starting May 1st) and I invite you to follow along with my progress (or even join in and kick-off your own No Spend Challenge).
If you want to follow along with me or do your own No Spend Challenge in the future I’ve even put together a No Spend Month Challenge Printable Tracker that you can grab for free, just by subscribing to my newsletter.
Go ahead and subscribe to grab your Free No Spend Month Challenge Printable Tracker now:
Why I’m Doing A No Spend Month
I’m going to be honest with you… we’ve been overspending a lot in my household over the last few months.
There have been a few different reasons, including birthdays, my husband needing a new cell phone, and an unplanned emergency trip back to Australia. However, when I look at the bigger picture over the last few months, it mostly comes down to lifestyle creep.
After holding out for the longest time, I finally signed up for Personal Capital a few weeks ago and took a closer look at our budget. And honestly, it was a bit of a nasty shock to see how much our spending in some categories has been sneaking up over time.
I’m a big believer in finding what works best for you, and for my husband and I, this has meant taking a more relaxed approach to budgeting for the last few years since we both finished paying off our student debt back in 2016.
This has historically worked fairly well for us. We’re diligent about not carrying a balance on our credit cards, we don’t own a car (so no car loans), and we don’t have any other kind of debt except for mortgages on two investment properties that pretty much break even.
Unfortunately, this relaxed approach to budgeting has allowed us to slip into a habit of excessive spending over the last few months and it’s time to get it back under control.
This is where the No Spend Month Challenge comes in.
My husband and I plan to dive right in and commit to our No Spend Challenge for 31 days in May.
The Challenge Rules
As I mentioned before, one of the great benefits of a No Spend Challenge is that they’re quite flexible, which means that you can tailor your challenge to suit your goals and personal situation.
The general objective of a No Spend Challenge is to eliminate non-essential spending. This is going to look different for everyone, so it’s important to take the time to set some ground rules before you get started.
The main points you need to determine are:
- Length of the challenge
- Approved spending
- Banned spending
Our Rules For May 2019
Mandatory And Fixed Expenses
We won’t be looking at cutting out anything that is a fixed or mandatory expense this month (eg. rent, utilities, internet, cell phone, gym membership).
These are what they are for the challenge, but we often consider how we can cut these expenses back and will probably take another look at them one day soon. I know for a fact that we can get a cheaper cell phone plan than what we have at the moment so this will be the next “fixed” expense to get a trim.
Groceries – We will continue to buy the same high-quality food that we always do, but will be more mindful about our spend in this category. We will focus on reducing food waste, eating what we have before we buy more, and making more budget-friendly food choices.
Dog Food – We should have enough dog food to last the month, but our dog has to eat so this will be an approved purchase if he runs out of food before the month is up.
Takeout and eating out – No takeout food or restaurant meals this month, with the exception of one pre-planned celebratory meal that we’ve already committed to.
Coffee, Drinks, Lunches & Snacks – We won’t be buying any coffee, drinks, work lunches or snacks. We will focus on preparing all of our own work lunches and snacks this month and only consume drinks that we already have or that are free (eg. free coffee at work).
Shopping – No shopping at all this month. That includes new clothes, shoes, makeup, and gym gear. Anything non-essential is out.
Uber, Lyft or Car2Go – No taxis, rideshares, or car rentals this month. If we want to go anywhere, we’ll walk or catch public transport.
…plus pretty much anything else that isn’t a mandatory or fixed expense or on the Approved list.
Yep – we’re looking at a pretty frugal month
Necessary Medical & Vet – Fingers crossed that we don’t have any need to spend in this category, but medical or vet bills will be an exception if something important comes up.
Want To Participate?
If a No Spend Month Challenge sounds like something you need, you’re more than welcome to participate!
If you’re ready to get started ASAP, you can join me on 1st May and dive straight in. I’ll be posting regularly about my progress on social media and writing weekly update posts here on A Cure for Monday.
If you’re not quite ready yet, that’s not a problem. Any time is a good time to start working on spending less and saving more. Just grab the free No Spend Month Challenge Tracker and get started whenever you’re ready.
Have you done a No Spend Challenge before? How did it go for you?
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