For many people, money is tight these days. Especially with young Millenials who are leaving college and entering the workforce with student loan debt. Many people are looking for ways to get ahead of debt and to live more comfortably in the future.
One method that has become popular is the No Spend Challenge. The idea is to not spend money on non-essentials for a fixed period of time. This can achieve several goals. It can help to save money or pay off debt. It may also create good spending habits.
For those that need some help in getting started on your no spend challenge, these are some tips to help you out on your journey.
What is a No Spend Challenge?
A No Spend Challenge is when you pick a specific period of time to do no unneeded spending. Depending on your goals and needs, this can be a week, a weekend or a month. Some intrepid souls have even embarked on No Spend Years. The idea is to reduce your spending to either save money or make a permanent lifestyle change.
Some basic rules for a successful No Spend Challenge are what you can and can’t spend money on. You don’t want to neglect necessities while you are trying to save money. Make sure to pay your mortgage, utilities, cell phone and internet. If you are driving, make sure to budget out money for gas; if doing a No Spend weekend, gas up beforehand. Also, make sure to buy groceries if you are not stocking up before you start.
Some areas to avoid spending include going out to eat or entertainment. Avoid shopping and getting haircuts and nail appointments. Avoid Uber and Lyfts; you should be avoiding going out as much as possible anyways. A good rule to follow: if you don’t need it, don’t spend money on it.
Choose a Challenge That is Right for You
The next thing you need to consider is what challenge is right for you. Depending on your goals, you may want to do a shorter or longer No Spend Challenge.
When you are getting started, think about what your goal is for your challenge. Are you trying to free up money to pay off debt or to jumpstart paying off loans? Are you saving up for retirement or a vacation? Or are you trying to recover from possibly overspending during the holidays? Are you trying to create a new lifestyle of spending habits?
For goals such as recovering from holiday overspending or a vacation, a No Spend Weekend or Week may be the best choice as it is a shorter-term commitment. For bigger goals such as long term debt paying off or changing spending habits, a no spend month can be the answer.
It is also important to set a realistic goal for yourself. You may be a person who can dive right into changing their spending habits. Others may need to test things out. It may be easier for you to not spend money during the weekend, or during the week when you are busy at work. Setting shorter-term goals, in the beginning, can be good, as it will instill a sense of accomplishment for taking on a bigger challenge.
Get Your Team Together
The most important thing for families to practice a No Spend Challenge is having everyone on board. If your spouse does not buy into the plan, you won’t succeed in your goal. If you have children, explain how the challenge would work and the plan. You might even be able to make a game with younger children. Once you have your plan, write it down to give yourself accountability.
One important thing is trying to not make yourself a hermit. This will demotivate you and could cause issues with friendships. Instead, maybe host a game night and invite people to bring snacks. If there is a ballgame on TV, host a few people to join you in watching.
Free is Your Friend
Finding free streaming services can help in the entertainment area. There are several services that are free or can be bundled with other apps.
Having kids can cause issues when trying not to spend money. Try to avoid going out to eat or events that are going to cost money. Have a game night and invite some friends over. Visit a park and look for local events that are free of charge.
Hide your debit and credit cards. Have them someplace where you can access them in an emergency situation, but not where you will be tempted to do unneeded spending. If you are trying to pay down debt, shred the credit card.
Planning out a menu with your family is important. If you can, don’t spend money on any food you don’t plan on eating. By fresh produce only when you plan on eating it within a day or two. Take this time to eat some of the food sitting in the pantry and freezer. Stocking up on non-perishables can be great for a No Spend Month.
When going to work, pack your own lunch. Even when you know co-workers are going to order out or go to lunch, you can always play it off that you forgot and brought a lunch you can’t let go to waste. If you don’t mind them knowing your financial goals, you may even let them know you are doing a No Spend Challenge to avoid any awkward conversations.
You may spend your free time browsing online and doing online shopping. This is only going to hurt your goals in the end. Instead, use this free time to work on your home. Maybe you have a spare room that has been needed cleaning out. If the weather is nice, do some yard work. The big thing is keeping yourself busy where you aren’t going to be tempted to spend money.
A No Spend Challenge can help you to form good spending habits that can change your life. One of the long-lasting benefits of a No Spend Challenge is allowing you to evaluate your own spending habits. Whether you are trying to clear up debt, save for a big purchase, or build better habits a No Spend Challenge can help.
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