Want to stop spending? Here’s my guide to doing your own no spend challenge, with eight simple tips.
THE NO SPEND CHALLENGE: A GATEWAY TO BEING MORE MINDFUL WITH MONEY
What is a No Spend Challenge? Why on earth would you want to commit to one? If you’ve been wondering these very questions, here’s the low-down on the benefits of doing a No Spend Challenge and how it can help you become more mindful with money.
So first up, let’s set a scene…
You know that moment when your bank statement comes through, after what felt like a careful few weeks, and it’s like that scene in Friends when Joey gets his credit card bill?
That moment is a big red flag that you need to get more mindful with your money. Especially if you want to create financial freedom for yourself.
It is scarily easy to spend money, even when you’re trying to not spend money. We are bombarded with marketing every which way and we have never been more aware of what everyone else has. Plus contactless payments and accounts with online stores mean we literally don’t have to think as we buy.
Which is why you need a power move to reboot your spending habits: The NO SPEND CHALLENGE
WHAT IS A NO SPEND CHALLENGE?
It’s a challenge to not spend money on an agreed list of stuff for a limited period of time. You could be as bold as to decide to not spend on anything other than the bare essentials of life for a whole year, but really it’s for you to set the parameters of your challenge.
THE BENEFITS OF A NO SPEND CHALLENGE
There are short-term and long-term benefits of doing a No Spend Challenge.
It’s a quick and easy way to build your finances back up when you really need to replenish your bank account. Challenges can be fun because you set your goals and you set a timeframe, so there’s no ominous ‘foreverness’ about it.
In the same way as doing a detox or going alcohol-free for a month can reset your tastebuds and consumption habits, a period of not spending can help you reset your financial habits.
A No Spend challenge will help you become more mindful with your money because you will become hyper-aware of how and when you spend your money. Or rather, when you would normally spend money, but instead you don’t.
The challenge will give you the chance to really get to understand your spending habits. You may well spot that it’s not the big purchases that are the problem, it might well be the little things that cause your money to trickle out of your bank account almost unnoticed.
HOW TO PLAN FOR A NO SPEND CHALLENGE
My biggest tip is to keep things simple. My other tip is to make sure you don’t panic buy ahead of your challenge or just defer buying the stuff until after the challenge is over.
Setting a goal will give you focus and inspire you to keep going at moments when you may otherwise give in to the temptation to spend.
A month is a really good time-frame to be able to reach a notable goal. In fact, your goal may well help define the time-frame. However, if you are nervous about committing to a No Spend Challenge, why not dip your toe in the water with a week of no spending.
3. SET YOUR INTENTIONS
Use the principles of intentional living to focus on why you are committing to a No Spend Challenge. It’s not so much about ‘what’ as it is about ‘why’. It’s ‘why’ that will help you set your intentions.
- Do you want to consume less?
- Would you like to live a less cluttered life?
- Is it important to start saving for your later years?
- Is there something big you need to save for?
- Does your emergency fund need replenishing?
- Would you like to work less?
- Do you want to get rid of your mortgage?
Alongside getting yourself into a no-spending frame of mind, you also need to brief your friends and family that you are embarking upon a No Spend Challenge. You will need their support and understanding.
4. MEAL PLAN & PREP
This step is massively important, especially if you plan to stop spending on eating out and takeaways. Take time to think ahead and plan your meals for the duration of your challenge. If you’re super organised you can also prep meals and freeze them so they’re ready to cook when you need them.
5. PLAN ACTIVITIES
Finding free stuff to do can be a challenge, there is plenty of free stuff out there, but you need to find stuff that you will genuinely enjoy. So, spend some time putting together a list of free stuff that you can do during your challenge.
Get dates in the diary to see friends and family and arrange to do stuff that is free – or at the very least won’t cost you more than cooking a simple meal for them from within your weekly groceries budget. If you take the initiative to plan things in, it’s far easier to keep on track and to avoid friends and family trying to tempt you off-piste.
6. PROGRESS TRACKING
It can be a positively delicious experience to note down all the things you avoided spending money on. Plus keeping track is great motivation for keeping going through longer challenges.
Put together a list of the things that you will not spend money on for the duration of your challenge. Be realistic, but do challenge yourself, this is the point of the whole process. I’ve popped a list of suggestions for stuff to not spend money on below.
SUGGESTED NO SPEND CHALLENGES
In essence, a No Spend Challenge is about pitting ‘Want’ against ‘Need’. It’s pretty hardcore to just decide to not spend money on anything other than the bare essentials, so think carefully about where you could do with cutting back. Here are some ideas to get you started:
THINGS TO NOT SPEND ON
Set yourself a weekly groceries budget and make sure not to spend over it. This will help you cut down on impulse buys and stuff that’s nice but not essential to be able to eat healthily
- Eating out
- Takeaway coffee (the ultimate symbol of unnecessary spending)
- Alcohol for drinking at home
- Electronic gadgets
- Stuff for the house (step away from the scented candle)
- Socialising (go for dog-walks, walks, cycles, go to each other’s houses)
- Days-out (opt for things you can do for free instead)
- Exercise – (ditch the gym membership, stop paying for training apps)
- Beauty, cosmetic and toiletry products (beyond the basics needed for personal care)
- App subscriptions (check your iPhone subscriptions on your cell)
- Amazon Subscribe and Save
- Cinema tickets
- Books (use a local library, share Kindle books with your family)
- TV and music streaming services (Maybe keep just one TV streaming service if you plan to spend a lot of time at home)
- Stuff for pets (beyond the essentials needed to feed and look after them)
- Public transport – if you can walk or cycle instead
- Fuel for your car – if you can walk or cycle instead
- Gifts – (a tricky one… make stuff, agree a reciprocal ‘no gifts this year deal’, ditch friend or family member (joke!))
8. COUNT AND SAVE YOUR MONEY
There is one final step to completing a successful No Spend Challenge. It’s that satisfying moment where you tot up what you’ve not spent AKA saved and move that money across into your savings account.
Yes, that’s right. Don’t just let the money you’ve saved sit in your bank account., actively manage that money. Otherwise, you could get all complacent and do the equivalent of pigging out after a detox.
READY FOR YOUR NO SPEND CHALLENGE?
I hope I’ve given you all the tips and ideas you need to plan and successfully complete your own No Spend Challenge. It truly is a great way to become more mindful with your money and your spending, which in turn is a great way to find financial freedom.