Anyone else feel like they just bleed money sometimes? Even if you have a budget and somehow stick with it, Decembers, specifically, still pack a punch to the old bank account. That’s why my favorite tradition after the madness of December is over is to have a No Spend Challenge in January, but No Spend Challenges are effective no matter when you do them. “What’s a No Spend Challenge?” you ask? It’s exactly what it sounds like. You try as best you can to not spend money unnecessarily.
Side note for a second: Why exactly is a blog that focuses on organization discussing budgetary issues? I’m not, really. I’m discussing limiting the items that come into your home so you can keep a better handle on the what you’ve got. Purchasing fewer items equals less to organize and clean.
Why a No Spend Challenge?
There are a lot of reasons to curb spending habits…
- Resets spending habits—especially after spending like crazy at Christmas time
- Stops instant gratification — makes you wait to see if you truly need something before buying it, which is a great habit!
- Keeps some extra cash in your pocket
- Encourages you use up what you have–like all that food in the pantry that you never feel like eating
How Long should a No Spend Challenge Be?
Personally, I think a month is a perfect amount of time for a No Spend Challenge. It’s long enough that you can actually see your work pay off (lower credit card bills, more money in the bank) and it’s short enough that it’s not overwhelming.
If a month feels too long, shorten it! You could try a No Spend Week, a No Spend Weekend, or a specific no spend category, such as clothing, alcohol, or dining out— whichever of these categories is a weak spot for you.
If you’re really serious about your challenge, you can extend it to two months, 6 months, or a year. Again, you could choose a specific category to focus on, like no new clothing for a year.
So what are the No Spend Rules?
There’s one simple rule: BUY ONLY WHAT YOU TRULY NEED
It would be VERY hard time not spending ANY money at all. We all have electricity bills, after all. But there’s a difference between necessary spending and unnecessary spending, and that’s what we’ll be reminding ourselves of.
Specific Rules for my No Spend January
- No Starbucks (or any other equivalent)
- Make coffee at home and skip the donuts. Good for your body and your wallet.
- No AMAZON.
- Even for the necessities — skip it and shop at the supermarket. Don’t open that Amazon door. And turn off notifications on your phone, too.
- No clothes.
- I’m betting there will not be a clothing emergency this month.
- No impulse purchases.
- Avoid aimlessly wandering around Target, grabbing a magazine in the checkout aisle of the supermarket, or running into The Dollar Tree.
- No toys, books, or entertainment purchases.
- Odds are the streaming service you already pay for has plenty of movies, and your local library is full of books, should you need some fresh reading material.
- Only dine out if you’ve planned it into your meal plan.
- Be reasonable and not impulsive. No McD’s drive through just because it’s on the way home.
- No manicures or salon
- I know this is a sensitive subject for some. If it’s something you feel strongly about, disregard this one.
Again, these are MY rules I’ve set. If they feel too restrictive, change them!
No Spend Tip: Make a wish list of items you’d like during your No Spend Challenge. If you still want those items when the challenge is over, purchase them knowing you did so with intention.
Join the No Spend Challenge movement
Interested in trying a No Spend Challenge of your own? Screenshot, download, or print this free spending tracker and keep it handy. Color each bubble green when you’ve avoided spending unnecessarily. Leave it blank or color it red when you slip up.
If this is your first time, go easy on yourself. Take a deep breath, read these tips, and do your best. The goal is to change your spending habits and changing habits takes times. If you’re not 100% successful on your first try, it doesn’t mean you didn’t grow.
UPDATE: Want to see how my No Spend Challenge Went for January 2021? This post provides a summary.
Are you taking part in a No Spend Challenge? Leave a comment below and let me know!