* This article was originally published on Simply Laura Leigh *
If you’ve been on Pinterest for any length of time I’m sure you’ve come across countless No spend Challenges. Although they seemed like a good idea I’ve always been hesitant to try one. Honestly, I thought they would be more of a hassle than it was worth. Well, let me tell you how wrong I was! We just completed our first 30 day no spending challenge and it was eye-opening!
Not only did it help us save money, more importantly, but
Don’t forget to scroll all the way to the bottom to get your free printable!
What is a no spending challenge And why do you need to do one
A no spend challenge is a set amount of time where you limit spending to just the necessities in order to help you save money, get your budget back on track and see what area’s you’ve been overspending on. It’s a great tool to help you and your spouse reset your financial mindset and get on the same page.
Some other benefits include:
- Figuring out actual needs vs wants
- Reset your spending habits
- Develop financial discipline
- Save money to build an emergency fund
- Stop living paycheck to paycheck
- Having extra money to pay off debts
If any of those benefits sound like something you need or want to do then a no spending challenge is for you!
How long do they last
No spend challenges can be as long or as short as you want them to be! You can tailor them to target a particular length of time that really challenges your spending habits. Three of the most beneficial time frames to do no spend challenges are; a weekend, 2 weeks (between paychecks), or 30 days. So which one is right for you?
Weekend – If you find yourself doing a majority of your nonessential spending on the weekends on things like going out to eat, shopping, or spending money on entertainment because you and/or your kids are “bored”. Challenge yourself to spend on only the absolute
2 Weeks (between paychecks) – A 2 week no spending challenge is a long enough time frame to force you to confront and work on your spending habits but not so long that it feels impossible. The shorter amount of time also makes it easier to cut your spending without losing motivation and
30 days (or a calendar month) – This is one of the more difficult challenges but it also has the most payoff. If your goal is to pay off debt or build your savings then a 30 day no spending challenge is going to help you accomplish that faster. It’s going to force you to be even more creative and resourceful just for the fact that you cannot spend for an entire month. Think of this as the marathon of the no spending challenges, if you want to make this one work you’ll need to be prepared and have the right mindset.
Determine your why
Before you start your no spending challenge you need to be clear with your goals and why you want to do this. Changing your spending habits is not an easy task and having a clear goal is the key to helping you maintain motivation and resisting the temptation to spend money on those fun nonessentials.
Do you need to pay off debt, build an emergency fund, or do you want to do something fun like save for a family vacation? Whatever your reasoning is you need to be very clear about it. Write down your goal/purpose and hang it on the fridge so you’re reminded every day of why you’re doing this.
determine essential vs NONESSENTIAL spending
So you’ve decided you want to do a no spending challenge, you’ve picked the amount of time it will last, and you’ve set your goals. Now you’ll need to decide what you’re allowed to spend money on during your no spending challenge.
Sit down and determine what you consider essential spending and what you consider nonessential. Then look for ways you can reduce the cost of your essential spending even more. While what is considered essential and nonessential will vary with each family there are a few things that will generally fall into each category
Essential spending – At its most basic essential spending is anything that you absolutely have to spend on in order to keep your family sheltered and fed, although in reality, it can be a little more nuanced than that. Some general essentials are;
Gas – You’ll need to get to work and get the kids to school so unless everything is within walking distance you’ll have to continue to spend money on gas. If possible use alternative means of transportation, can you carpool, bike to work/school, or take public transportation? If you can’t th
Food – A no spending challenge is a perfect opportunity to use up all the food you have in your pantry that might be nearing its expiration date. Challenge yourself to make meals using only what you already have and get creative. When you do go grocery shopping stick to a list and keep purchases to an absolute minimum.
School and Sports related expenses – If your kids are already signed up for sports leagues or school clubs review them carefully and make sure they fit into your family’s priorities and its something your children really enjoy doing. If they truly love it then keep it in the budget if you can afford to do so. If you have to force your kids to go then now is a great time to take them out of the sport or club.
Nonessential spending – Basically anything that isn’t on your essentials list is nonessential and you won’t be spending any money on them during your no spending challenge. Nonessentials include.
- Going out to eat
- Buying toys for the kids
- Going to the movies
- Clothes shopping
- Random shopping trips to Target
Your essential and nonessential spending list is what will create the “rules” for your no spending challenge.
Don’t forget to factor in any irregular expenses
Irregular expenses are expenses that occur infrequently but are predictable. Not to be confused with an emergency expense. Your car’s oil change would be an irregular expense since it can be planned for whereas replacing a car tire due to a flat is an emergency expense since it cannot be planned for.
Not planning for irregular expenses can really derail your no spending challenge. Sit down and write out any irregular expenses that may come up during your no spending challenge and determine if those expenses are is essential or if there are any ways to reduces those expenses
Examples of irregular expenses:
- Work dues
- Car maintenance
- School field trips
- Pet vaccinations
- Work or school uniforms
If it’s an expense such as a birthday or holiday are there ways you can reduce the expense? S
If possible, set aside money for these irregular expenses before you start your no spend challenge. Or at the very least make sure that they are being factored into your budget.
During your no
- Is it really a “necessity” or just a want
- Do you already own something that you can reuse or repurpose to fit your needs
- Is there a less expensive alternative or any way to reduce the cost
If you’ve asked yourself these questions and you’re still on the fence about if you need to buy it, wait a few days before you purchase it. If after a few days of waiting you still need it then go ahead and buy it. But more often than not you’ll realize you don
ONCE ITS OVER, TAKE TIME TO Reflect
Once your no spending challenge is over its important to sit down and reflect on what happened, what worked, what you still need to work on, and what you learned. Consider keeping a simple journal so you can track not only your financial progress but how your financial mindset has changed.
Being able to look back at your difficulties, successes, and even failures will help you carry over the lessons you’ve learned into your everyday life. Some quick and easy
- How do you think you did overall
- What areas did you do really well in
- What areas need improvement
- Is there anything that surprised you
- Were there things you thought were necessities that actually weren’t
- What lessons can you carry over to your everyday life
- How did this affect your finances
apply what you’ve learned to your everyday spending
Once you’re finished with you’re no spending challenge and you’ve reflected on what you’ve learned, apply those lessons to your everyday life. Use them to help you develop a better financial mindset and habits which will ultimately allow you to reach your financial goals.
Do it all over again!
Take the lessons learned, make the necessary adjustments and do another no spending challenge and see if you can improve from the first time. Now that you have the hang of how to do the challenge have some fun with it and challenge yourself to spend even less money then you did the first time. You can even have a little competition with your spouse to see who can spend the least.
Continuing to do these challenges will just help to strengthen your financial resolve and help you reach your financial goals even sooner than you thought possible!
Get Your No Spending Challenge – Planning Worksheet
Are you ready to start your no spending challenge? I’ve created a No Spending Challenge Planning worksheet to help you successfully take on your first challenge! To get your FREE worksheet all you need to do is subscribe (below) and I’ll send it straight to your inbox! And as an extra thank you, I’ll also send you the password to my exclusive resource library! There you’ll have access to tons of great printables, checklists, and resources for pregnancy, motherhood, homemaking, DIY and so much more. And it’s all FREE!