Dare to do a no-spend challenge in 2021 and save more money than ever before!
We bring you a list of top 10 tips to ensure your success. Hint: it’s all about being prepared in advance.
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What Is a No Spend Challenge?
A no-spend challenge is a money challenge where you decide not to spend money on anything non-essential for a certain period of time.
The point of this challenge is to cut out needless spending, focus on what you already have, and get to know your spending habits. In that way, you save a lot more money than you would otherwise.
Challenges are always a fun way to change some things in your life for the better.
This spending freeze can last from just a day to a whole year! Whether you decide to do a no-spend week, no-spend month, or even a no-spend year, it is up to you.
1. Define the No Spend Challenge Rules
Before you start with your no-buy challenge you need to define some rules.
You can buy only essentials and need to withhold from buying unnecessary things.
But what does that exactly mean?
Here is the set of rules which I follow when I decide to do a no-spend month.
- Housing (Rent / Mortgage)
- Basic Toiletries
- Dining Out
- Clothes / Shoes
- Home Decorations
- Beauty Treatments
- Make-Up, Beauty Products, Perfume
These rules are up to you and your circumstances. If you find gym membership something of essential importance you put it into allowed items. If you work from home, you can move transportation into not allowed. You get the gist. These are just my guidelines to make it easier for you.
2. Plan Ahead
After you set the rules for your spending freeze, it is time to plan ahead for any upcoming expenses during that period of time.
Look at your calendar and mark any upcoming events or projects. Write them down in your planner.
Then, set aside the necessary amount of money for those expenses in advance.
If you have any upcoming birthdays or events, plan ahead what presents you will bring. Plan on what you will wear on those occasions and if you need to buy something new. If you can pay for some bills in advance do that. If you have any home renovations going on make sure you have money to pay for that.
Prepare for as much as you can in advance and plan on how you will handle the tricky situations.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
Don’t fail, prepare.
3. Do a Pantry and Fridge Inventory
Our kitchens are often filled with forgotten food that we simply let go of and not use. This is your chance to use up those foods and save on your grocery budget.
Do a pantry, fridge, and freezer inventory and declutter it. Bring out everything out in the open. You will be surprised how much food you have before going to the store.
- Discard the food that is expired.
- Categorize the food that is left.
- Check what you need to use up quickly.
- Make a list of foods you have.
- Write what you are lacking.
Depending on how much food you have, you can do a freezer challenge. Challenge yourself creatively to consume all your freezer foods!
Find recipes you can make from the food you already have. Try to eat simpler and quicker meals.
4. Meal Prep
If you still don’t meal prep, this is the perfect time to start!
Not only does meal planning help you eat more healthily, but it also saves you time and money.
Eat most of your meals at home and prepare food to bring to work, school, etc. This can save you thousands of dollars a year!
If you follow my tips you will already have the list of food available to you from your pantry and fridge. Write down a number of recipes you can make from the food you already have. Research new recipes online, the options are endless.
- Plan what you will eat for the following week.
- Try to make the dishes filling and healthy.
- Add more fiber and protein, this way you will be full longer.
Only when you know what you will cook in the following week, write down the grocery list and go to the supermarket.
Set aside time once or twice a week to prepare the bulk of your meals for the week. I like to do it on Sundays and Wednesdays.
If you plan on bringing food to work, make sure it is solid and won’t spill in your bag. Trust me, I had this happen, especially with sauces!
- Cook bigger portions so you can eat one dish for two or three meals.
- Get used to eating the same or similar meals more times a week.
Also, don’t forget about the snacks. Get creative and make them from scratch.
5. Get Creative
I already mentioned getting creative in the kitchen, but it also applies to other areas in your life.
Sometimes it can happen that during the no-spend challenge something breaks in your home or your shoes fall apart. In that case, you are allowed to spend money.
However, you can also look at it as another challenge! You can search for a solution where you don’t need to spend money. There are a lot of Facebook groups where people donate things they no longer need. In my country, for example, they are called Sharing is Caring.
You can also try to fix it by yourself, or ask a family member to help.
Avoid spending money where you can, and by doing that learn something new or gain new experiences.
6. Sell the Items You No Longer Need
Take this no-spend challenge as a chance to go through your home and declutter it. Organize your home and set aside items you no longer need or want.
Categorize items you want to get rid of into three piles: donate, throw away, and sell.
Try to sell items that are valuable, in mint condition, and pricey.
Before listing the item check other people’s prices on the listing websites. Set your price somewhere in the middle. You don’t want to be suspiciously cheap or too expensive.
You can list them on Facebook marketplace, Craigslist, eBay, or some other website. Make sure to clean them and make a photo of them in a nice setting. You can also style them like you would in your own home.
The more appealing the photo looks, the easier it will be to sell the item.
Don’t lie in your listing, add a true description of the item, and use relevant keywords.
7. Pay With Cash
I recently watched a documentary where experts said that it actually hurts our brain to spend cash. This is why so many people fall into trap of using credit cards and getting into credit card debt.
Using that logic, if you pay with cash for most of the stuff during your no-spend challenge, you might buy and spend less.
Also, when you have an exact amount of cash allocated for something you have to really pay attention to what you are buying and how much it costs.
If you take only 100 dollars with you to the grocery shop, you will closely monitor what you are buying and most likely spend even less than what you bring.
Try to do it and see how it goes. If it doesn’t work for you, you can also try paying with your debit card. That way you only spend money you already have, unlike with credit cards.
8. Avoid Temptation
Don’t be fooled, no-spend challenge is a hard task to accomplish. You want to set yourself for success from the beginning.
Try to avoid temptations where possible.
- Unsubscribe from the newsletters by retailers.
- Don’t go to shopping malls.
- Avoid social media.
- Don’t fall for deals.
Notice when you get most tempted to buy something. Work to cut out that temptation.
My biggest weakness, for example, is home decorations and furniture. We are in the process of slowly renovating our apartment, so when I see sales in furniture stores, I feel like I have to buy something in order to save money down the road.
I have to always remind myself that sales are cyclical and that they will repeat themselves by the time we decide to redecorate the specific room. In order to not even know about the sales, I stopped following furniture retailers on social media and unsubscribed from their newsletters.
9. Make a List of Free Entertainment
Life gets boring, especially when you count every dollar.
It is true that you save most when you spend most of your time at home. However, you don’t have to limit yourself to only fun at home.
Make a list of free entertainment in your city.
- Check out local news sites for free festivals and events near you.
- Join the library and lend free books. Libraries also tend to have free events for kids and adults.
- Get active – go for bike rides in nature.
- Invite friends for movie or game nights.
- Visit the surrounding towns.
- Discover hidden gems in your area.
- Brainstorm with your family creative ideas for free and fun activities.
You will be surprised how much you will come up with that otherwise you would never even think of!
There is fun all around us and you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a good time.
You just have to get proactive about searching for new things to do with your family and friends that will not break the bank.
10. Get to Know Your Spending Habits
Take advantage of this time to get to know your spending habits.
What is your biggest money weakness?
Journal during the no-spend challenge and take note of occasions when it got really hard to stick to the rules.
Only when you get to know your weaknesses you can start working towards combating them.
At the end of the no-spend challenge go through your notes and make a list of your biggest challenges. Then think about them and come up with solutions to overcome them.
Everybody is different and lives in different circumstances. What might not be a temptation for me might really be hard for you.
Be gentle with yourself and slowly work on bettering your spending habits.
Remember: your relationship with money is long-term. It is important to learn valuable lessons that you will stick to even when you complete your no-spend challenge.
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No Spend Challenge as a Life-Long Money Tactic
Use a no-spend challenge when you feel like you need to get your finances in order. Decide on a certain period of time. Look at it as a ground zero when you need the motivation to continue with the frugal finances.
There is no better way to get motivated than to shake things up a bit. A no-spend challenge is a really effective tactic to save more money. Just be prepared to work hard to succeed in it.
Do you want to up your savings? Take a look at this article:
Have you ever done a no-spend challenge? Share your experiences with us in the comments!