How to Prepare for a No Spend Challenge

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Now that the holidays are over and I have some time, I wanted to give you an update on our No Spend November.  Also, I have a few tips in case you are planning on a No Spend Month for January.   January is a great time for a No Spend Month.  It’s a good idea to follow a very spendy December with a No Spend Month in January.

So, how did our November No Spend month go?  Here is a recap of how I did with the rules I set for myself:

  1.  Spend no money on clothes–Mission Accomplished!  Really this is pretty easy for me and I think most of us have plenty of clothes and can easily go a month (or much longer!) without buying anything new.
  2. Purchase no home decor or household items–Mission Accomplished!  Again, this wasn’t too difficult.
  3. Limit grocery purchases to a maximum of $25 a week—Missed the goal, but still successful!  We ended up spending $173.39 for the month or a weekly total of $43.35.  Still really good for three adults during Thanksgiving month!
  4. Spend no money on entertainment–Mission Accomplished!  This was another goal that wasn’t difficult for us.  We have plenty to keep us busy at home.
  5. Basically, freeze all spending except the minimum necessary for groceries–Mission Accomplished!  We only paid our regular bills and bought groceries.
  6. Stay out of the Dollar Tree and Ulta!  Done!  I thought this was going to be difficult, but no!

Lessons learned?

  1.  $25/week for groceries–Really hard to do.  In fact, I don’t want to ever set that low limit again unless it is out of necessity.  We really did use up so much from our pantry and freezer, so I think this was a great benefit.  However, our diets ended up not as healthy as I would like and we didn’t have much fresh produce in the last couple of weeks of the month.  If I do another No Spend Month, I will at least double my weekly amount and I will plan on spending half of that weekly amount on fresh produce.
  2.  A No Spend Month really brings attention to how much money gets spent without thinking.  How often do we stop for a coffee or soda?  When we are shopping (even for just groceries) we often impulse buy and things just end up in our carts.  We had to be more intentional with our spending and, wow, did it make a difference.  We were able to put $2500 in to our savings account at the end of November!
  3.  Staying out of stores is a necessity.  I found that my goal of staying out of the Dollar Tree and Ulta has changed my habits completely.  I would stop at the Dollar Tree often and end up spending $5-$15–for what?  The No Spend Month has broken this habit and I don’t miss it!
  4.  The No Spend Month brought attention to the fact that we have tons of things on hand that needed to be used up.  Not just food–toiletries, make-up, and cleaning supplies.  I have started a “Use it Up” project for our family and it will continue into 2018.

Tips for a No Spend Challenge

  • Determine the length of your No Spend Challenge–you may want to start with a day, a weekend or a week.  Or do you really need to do a month?
  • Decide on your goals.  What do you hope to accomplish?  Do you have a specific amount you want to save?  Do you just want to break some habits?  Do you want to clean out your cupboards and freezer?
  • Set your own rules.  Your No Spend Challenge is your own.  There is no right or wrong.  Personalize it to your goals and needs.  Look ahead to what you already have on your calendar and consider that when you make your rules.  Don’t make so many exceptions that you defeat the reason for having a No Spend Challenge, but customize the challenge to your life.
  • Take an inventory of your consumables.  Look at your fridge, freezer and pantry contents.  See how much you have on hand of personal items.  The point isn’t to go spend $500 stocking up right before you do  a no spend, but make sure you have the basics.
  • Meal plan.  This is super important.  Without a plan, it is too easy to give in and run through the drive through after a long work day.
  • Plan for Entertainment.  A No Spend Challenge tends to lead to more time at home.  What kinds of entertainment can you plan for at home?  Maybe there is a puzzle the family can work on together.  Learn a new card game and have a family game night.  Plan to rewatch a favorite movie or a new-to-you movie on Netflix.  Planning fun, free activities will make the time seem special and not feel like deprivation.

We learned a lot during our No Spend Month and it is something I will do again.  I may decide to have one No Spend week a month.

Are you inspired  to try your own No Spend Challenge?   Please leave me a comment!

 

 

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