We challenged our readers to join us for a no spend month and promised we would provide an honest review of our experiences. It’s finally here! If you missed our first post about our no spend month challenge and rules, check it out here.
Our No Spend Month Challenge
Our goal was to gain insight into our spending habits and develop a better relationship with money. Although it was tough at times, we learned many lessons from our no spend month. As did the brave few who joined us! Find out the top lessons learned from our no spend month challenge and how much money we ended up saving.
1. Don’t Go At It Alone
Support from friends and family was important for us during our no spend month. They laughed with us, helped us problem solve and were flexible with our rules.
But what really helped us feel like we weren’t taking on this challenge alone was the people who committed to join us! We were fortunate to have several members of The Loaded Pig community join our no spend month. We checked in with them regularly to share frustrations and motivation and that support system was priceless.
2. Minimizing Temptations Helps With Self-control
The biggest killer of our budget before our no spend month was food from restaurants. This includes delivery and take out. Something I made sure to do on day 1 was delete all food delivery and restaurant apps on my phone. Taking 2 seconds to do this prevented me from receiving the constant flow of notifications about sales and free delivery. We can’t block out the smells or signs of restaurants while out and about, but we can try to minimize temptations that are delivered straight to our devices. This was really helpful for us and definitely impacted our self-control.
3. Saving Money Can Be Fun
We have to admit that we did crave some of our normal take out foods and some of the more unusual ones too! But we actually had fun attempting to make some copycat recipes, like orange chicken and fried rice and naked chalupas. And yes, as promised Tiago did cook a few meals!
Andrew from xcdrew.wordpress.com shared with us, “Challenges can be fun and exciting as long as we make it to be. Rebecca and Tiago introduced the idea of “No Spend Month Challenge” to me in July and I decided that I would participate in the challenge. The idea of spending money only on necessities for a set time period, in this case a month long, seemed like a fantastic idea as I would be potentially saving money towards future financial goals.”
Cassidy from cooaevus.com also relied on cooking her own meals and said, “I successfully cut takeout expenses, which resulted in $150 extra dollars in my pocket! It was hard at first to resist my ‘Monday Treat’, but as I got used to staying at home and cooking meals, I really enjoyed knowing that I committed to not impulsively spending and I was saving money because of it! 1 Point for self-discipline, another point for saving money!”
4. Waiting Before You Buy Is Powerful
In the age of one-click purchases and free 2-day delivery, impulse shopping is difficult to resist. It’s easy to say you want to buy a $50 game or pair of jeans and then just do it. What’s hard is actually waiting. And guess what? Waiting to buy something is a game changer. We have recommended the 24-hour rule before, which is waiting a day before you make a purchase of a “want” above a certain dollar amount. If you still want it after waiting and you can afford it, then buy it.
SCRATCH THAT. The new rule is the 30 day rule! Wait 30 days before you make the purchase. Odds are you won’t want it anymore. And if you do then you just had 30 days to save for it.
For us, waiting to buy any entertainment purchase was so beneficial. It helped us understand that we do make some impulse purchases, but we can wait and see if we still want the item after giving it several weeks of thought. That is if you remember what it is, of course!
Simply having our no spend month rules caused us to think before each purchase. One time Tiago even commented how we have to wait until next month to buy something for our puppy and I reminded him that it wasn’t part of our rules – we didn’t end up buying it anyways! We definitely saved in other spending categories just because we took a moment to consider if it followed our rules.
Lindsey from sunsetsbooksandwine.com took on a bigger challenge than us and aimed to cut all spending besides usual bills and food. She said, “No spend August made me really think about my spending. I questioned each purchase and whether it was really needed or just an impulse buy. Unfortunately I did spend money towards the end of the month but I will try again in September. It made me realize just how many emails and temptations there are around!”
5. It Takes Effort To Prepare But It’s Worth It
Honestly, we have huge admiration for the food preppers out there who spend a day each week or 2 just cooking all day long. We struggle with that, but we recognized that we eat out when we don’t have food ready for a meal. So it does require a lot of effort to plan meals, go grocery shopping and then actually cook them, but the savings and convenience was worth it.
Andrew aimed to cut all unnecessary spending and acknowledged the impact of preparing ahead of time to cut costs, “By preparing I avoided impulse purchases as well as ordering food and drinks when they can be made on a lesser budget at home. My first time participating in this challenge provided me a few difficulties and a lesson about my relationship with money. One of the difficulties I faced was avoiding fast food restaurants. I know they are usually unhealthy, but when on-the-go they provide meals and beverages quickly when needed. It also helped that I packed snacks and drinks ahead of time.”
6. Creativity & Some Luck Goes A Long Way
When it comes to avoiding eating out, it all came down to preparation and self-control. But cutting entertainment expenses did throw us for a loop one weekend. For a family member’s birthday, the plans were to rent canoes and explore Loxahatchee river. The rental was $65 for a double canoe and despite our commitment to our no spend month we really wanted to go.
Luckily, we were able to borrow a kayak but we don’t have a car with a roof rack…. We had to get creative. And a little risky. We used pool noodles to act as a roof rack and used quite a lot of straps and rope to tie it down.
But it worked! It was a few extra hours of effort and some stress, but we saved $65 and stuck to our no spend month rules. Also we had a great time kayaking – for free!
7. Goals Help To Keep Your Eye On The Finish Line
This month was an exercise in self-control, especially when one of us says “I want [enter your favorite restaurant here]!” We may have come close, but we didn’t give in. Not only would we remind each other that we are saving money and just have XX days left, but we also didn’t want to let our readers down!
Andrew also reminded himself of his financial goals to help him during the no spend month, “I was tempted several times to spend money due to commercials and coupons/deals. I had notifications from my email and apps of promotions that were too good to pass, but with the thought of saving money now for a better financial future grounded me.”
Finally…How Much Did We Save During Our No Spend Month?
All in all, we saved about $300 compared to an average of 2 previous months! That may not seem like a significant amount, but it actually comes to $3,600 annually. That is A LOT. Especially considering we already have a frugal lifestyle and we only cut eating at restaurants/take out and entertainment.
But we weren’t the only ones who saved money! Lindsey saved about £300, Andrew saved over $200 and Cassidy saved about $150.
That’s something to celebrate! Even more important is what we learned about our spending habits and the ways we can improve our finances going forward. Saving for one month is great, but using those lessons every month after that is infinitely more powerful.
Have you done a no spend month challenge? What do you think about our experiences? Let us know in the comments!
To find out how to get more out of your money all year long, read our article These 8 Frugal Living Habits Allow Us To Spend More On What Matters.
Financial freedom begins with good habits.Rebecca & Tiago, theloadedpig.com