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Before I started learning about money management I went to extremes with my money. I was either saving all my money by doing a no spend challenge or I was spending it all.
Yet most of the times I did a no spend challenge I wasn’t happy with the results.
Sure most of the time I saved money. But I would feel like a failure because something came up and I spent money. And feeling like a failure every time really sucked.
Eventually, I realize the reason I kept failing was that I wasn’t preparing for it. So here how to prepare for a no spend challenge, get results and avoid feeling like a failure.
It’s pretty simple, figure out why you’re doing it and how are you going to achieve it.
Before we dive in I recommend grabbing a journal I like these ones and a pen this is my favourite so you can write things down. There something about writing things down that helps you remember and learn more.
Plus if you get stuck during your no spending challenge you’ll have something to refer back too. Let’s get into it.
The first question you should ask yourself is why are you doing this? There are different reasons people do no spend challenge. Find your reason, something that motivates you. I listed some common reasons below.
They force you to watch your spending
You spend money almost daily but how often do you actually look at where that money goes. If you aren’t aware of what your spending money on it makes it harder to save more and cut expenses.
I talk more about the reasons you should track your spending here.
You might also be spending money on things that don’t make you happy or align with your values in any way. It might be a habit now to spend money on certain things.
This is one of the things a no spend challenge is good for making you aware of where your money goes.
Helps you save money
No matter the length of your spending challenge it will force you to save more money. You will save money throughout the whole challenge because you can’t spend it.
If you are looking for more ways to save money click here to go through all my post about saving money.
If you are in a rough place financially a no spending challenge can help you boost your short term savings. It also when you are doing that final push to pay off debt or reach a savings goal.
As you do the no spend challenge any money you save go towards your goal. If you are doing that consistently the money adds up fast.
You will end up with less stuff
I’m guessing a good chunk of the money you spend is on things. You probably buy a lot of things without realizing it.
The more things you buy the more time you need to spend taking care of your things. Cleaning them, organizing them.
The point is every little thing you buy has a bigger impact than the price you paid for it originally. Because everything has some sort of upkeep cost whether that time or money.
How else could you reach your goals?
Once you know why you doing this see if there are other ways you could accomplish the same goal? No spend challenges can be great and they do produce results. If you combine them with something else it can help you boost your results exponentially.
Let’s say you are doing a no spend challenge to save an emergency fund. You can simply try to save more of the money you are making now. Or you can try to earn more money and put that towards your saving.
Both ways work but the magic really happens when you do them both simultaneously.
Mixtures like that are often the best way to reach your goal. Think through all the different ways you can reach your goal. And see if there something you should incorporate into the no spending challenge.
How will a no spend challenge affect people around you?
Something you should think of before you start the challenge is how it going to affect others.
Now there are obvious ways it can affect others. If you’re married or in a long term relationship it probably best to get your significant other on board.
There are also more subtle ways it can affect your relationships. What about those co-workers who you usually grab an afternoon pick me up with. Or your friends who you only see over dinner.
Take a moment and actually think through who going to be affected? And what can you do to make it easier on others?
If you can think ahead. Maybe instead of meeting your friend for dinner in a restaurant, you can invite them over for a home cooked meal. Let people know that you are doing this challenge and then offer an alternative. It is a lot nicer than saying no all the time.
Also, think of the timing of it. Don’t start a Christmas so you don’t have to buy gifts. Try to be aware of other people when doing this.
We talk about why we are going this and now time to start thinking about how you are going to do this. Technically all you have to do is not spend money. But realistically you will have to at some point so let’s set some guidelines.
Are you going to have any exceptions for the no spend challenge?
We want to spend as little money as humanly possible. We also need to stay alive and stay functionally. So where the line between I need to have this or I can do without this for a bit.
The first thing I want you to do with this is to realize that the line can be blurry at times. It not always easiest to see the difference. I would recommend writing down some guidelines so you have something to refer back too.
There are some expenses you probably won’t be able to do away with doing the challenge. These expenses are food, housing and transportation. You can cut cost on these but you’ll still need to spend money here.
Some ways to cut cost and include it in your no spending challenge would be to have a limit on how much you spend a month. You could also try the lower cost options like biking to work instead of taking your car.
Sometimes you can’t lower the cost. In that case, see if you can make money off it. Could you rent out a room on Airbnb, those sorts of things?
Of course, there are other expenses in then the 3 I mentioned above. If it’s something for your health spend the money if you have it. It’s not worth getting sick over.
How could you make the no spend challenge easier?
I’m not going to say no spend challenges are easy. They’re not, it is a challenge after all. But there are things you can do to make it easier.
I do encourage you to think through how you spend your money and ways break those habits. There are a couple of things that sorta work for everyone.
As much as I hate cash and I do I wrote a whole post about it. Cash can serve as a good reminder not to overspend. Also if you withdraw a certain amount in cash there a limit on how much you can spend.
Also if you love to shop don’t take money with you everywhere. Or only take enough money for the thing you are buying.
Find fun things you can do for free. Your mood probably has a factor on how much you spend whether or not you want to admit.
If you need some more ideas on ways to make this easy look at 10 tips to improve your finances.
Commit to the no spend challenge
Make a time frame. Tell people about and commit. We can talk all we want but nothing happens until you start taking action.
Figure out when you are going to do this. When you are going to start and when you will stop. Write those dates down. It is good to have something to work towards.
Prepare yourself for a no spend challenge and things will go smoothly. You don’t want to be flying by the seat of your pants.
If you want to save more money but don’t think a no spend challenge is quite what you’re looking for check out Bank Boost. It’s an earning spree and spending diet course. They have a private Facebook group so you will have support while doing it. And it gentler way of doing a no spend challenge.
Whatever you choose to do. Put in the effort, prepare for it and enjoy the results. It might be hard but you can do hard things.