Rebecca’s Take: I don’t think our no spend month will be easy, but it will be a good learning experience. Maybe Tiago will even help me cook…
Tiago’s Take: I think I’ll be able to manage not buying any cool toys for a month. The hard part will be not ordering take out. Rebecca’s right, I’ll probably end up helping her cook…otherwise it will be gluten free meals for a month.
We are committing to a no spend month and we challenge you to join us! You can make your own no spend rules to fit your goals, so long as it pushes you to question your current spending habits. Find out what a no spend challenge is and the rules we decided on for our no spend month.
What Is A No Spend Challenge
A no spend challenge is a commitment to not spend money in a specified category for a period of time. It can last for a day, a week or even a year depending on what you decide.
The most important part of a no spend challenge is thinking about and determining the rules before you start. If you don’t do this beforehand, you might end up changing the rules part way through your challenge and that isn’t ideal.
No Spend Challenge Rules
You can come up with your own no spend rules based on what you want to get out of it. Your goal can be to save up for a big purchase, like a down payment for a car or a vacation, or it can be to change your spending habits or to simply learn how to be more grateful. If you have a specific savings goal in mind, read our article How To Make A Savings Plan For A Big Purchase, to help you.
For us, the goal of our no spend month is to refine our spending habits and adjust our relationship with spending money rather than to save a specific amount of money. But in general, saving money is our motivation for even thinking about this challenge. Once you have decided on your no spend goal or goals, you can set the rules.
Here are the rules for our no spend month:
1. No Spending On Restaurants or Entertainment
Some people commit to no spend challenges that involve absolutely no spending, however that’s unrealistic for most people, including us. Also that requires preparing for the no spend month by stocking up on food and supplies and that doesn’t quite make sense to us. Most people choose to not spend on “wants” or a portion of their “wants.”
To decide what expenses we will cut, we thought about our spending habits and talked about what we think we can cut down on (even if we don’t like it). Outside of non-negotiable bills, our next biggest spending category is food. We certainly cannot live off our land, as I struggle to keep house plants alive, but we can cut out food expenses from restaurants (delivery, take out, eat in).
The next biggest portion of our “wants” comes from entertainment expenses. Admittedly, this is more Tiago’s wheelhouse as he sometimes buys tech toys. Also because there are no live events I’m not drawn to going to a concert or festival. We expect that most people spend more for entertainment than we do as we don’t pay for cable or any streaming services (we mooch off family).
With the current Coronavirus situation we know it’s obviously easier to cut spending at restaurants and entertainment right now, but that makes this a great time to do this challenge. It’s also a great time for you to take on a no spend challenge!
You can commit to not spending on whatever portion of your “wants” expenses that pushes you. Don’t make it too easy or so hard that it’s unrealistic.
2. No Preparation Loopholes
At first thought you might wonder how you can prepare for a month of no spending at restaurants and on entertainment, however there are a few ways we could think of. We can’t buy any gift cards in anticipation of our no spend challenge or during it. However, we can use gift cards that we currently have. Although, for us this probably won’t work because any restaurant gift cards we currently own have low enough balances that we would end up having to pay for some food. We do have free movie ticket vouchers but we won’t be using those due to the virus.
Another loophole that we thought of is memberships. Part of the upside of no spend challenges is that you can make your own rules. For us, memberships count during the no spend challenge. So that means we can’t pay for a food delivery subscription or streaming service. Ultimately that defeats the purpose of our no spend month. Since we don’t currently pay for these we agree to not start these before our month starts.
3. We Can Use Coupons & Find Free Things To Do
This is the time to get creative. Part of the idea of no spend challenges is to step outside of your comfort zone and rethink your spending habits. That means searching for coupons and free events or things to do rather than spending. For us, that does not mean we can use a free side of fries coupon that requires a drink purchase. Be creative and have fun, but don’t cheat yourself.
4. We Have To Tell People About Our No Spend Month
For us, it’s best to spread the word that we are committed to our no spend month so we are doing just that! We don’t want to leave any room for excuses just because we didn’t let someone know our objectives for this challenge.
Telling people about your no spend challenge can really improve your chances of success and it can make it more fun. Try to spread the word as soon as you decide to do a no spend challenge as it will be easier to break if you wait to tell people.
The other benefit of telling people about your no spend month is that some might actually join you! There’s no better way to get support and motivation than for people to take on a no spend challenge alongside you. So don’t be bashful! Go social with your no spend month and challenge your friends and family to join you. They don’t have to follow the same rules as you for it to provide that extra push to make it through the month.
5. No Cheat Days
We’ve heard of some no spend challenges with rules like, 1 cheat day a week or every 2 weeks. We are taking on this no spend month with no cheat days. Go big or go home. We also think that allowing cheat days may encourage making exceptions and what’s the fun in that?
Rather than allowing yourself cheat days, make your challenge period with no cheat days in mind. Otherwise, you can pick a shorter period of time.
6. We Can Prepare In Some Ways
We think preparation for a no spend challenge shouldn’t be about spending a lot of money before you start because it just doesn’t make sense. But we can prepare in some ways that will help us stick to our no spend month.
To prepare for cutting all restaurant spending, we can shop for extra food items before and during the month. Lack of variety or food boredom is one of the reasons we order food. Another reason is that we don’t have food ready at the time, so we should prepare by making food in advance. Meal prepping is a common activity nowadays and that’s something we should try to take on to help us.
We won’t prepare for cutting entertainment spending because we shouldn’t spend money in anticipation of our no spend month if we don’t have to (we have board games, puzzles, and video games). Think of some ways you can prepare without spending so much that you even out your savings for the month.
7. We Have To Post An Honest Review of Our No Spend Month
Regardless of how well it goes we have to provide a truthful review of our no spend month challenge. It’s a good idea for anyone taking on a no spend challenge to stop and take a look back after to reflect on your success or failure and see what you learned. So for us, we will spend some time during our no spend month and after to get some meaningful takeaways and share them with you. Be sure to check back in with us to see how we did!
Join Our No Spend Challenge
Now that you know all about no spend challenges and the rules of our no spend month, join us! Create your own rules or follow ours. Remember to tell people and challenge friends and family to join you! Let us know what your goals and rules are in the comments or on social media and follow us for updates.
Update: Check out our article 7 Biggest Takeaways From Our No Spend Month Challenge
Financial freedom begins with good habits.Rebecca & Tiago, theloadedpig.com