As part of our FinFit-30 Challenge, last week we challenged our readers to not spend any money from Monday through Friday (the work week). We called it a “no spend work week.” We participated as well.
It really wasn’t that bad! It honestly didn’t require exercising too much restraint, and we saved money in the process. It is definitely something that we are going to repeat. I’ve heard of people doing challenges where they don’t spend any money for 3o days. That blows my mind. Most of these folks carve out exceptions for gas and produce or things they absolutely need. But we didn’t spend money on a single thing for 5 days and you know what? It felt REALLY good. Like a money fast. I feel all cleaned up from my rough spending month of December.
Right now we are on track to stay well under our January budget. The trick will be to not overspend now that we are off of the no spend week! Anyway, this week generated a couple of thoughts on how to actually stick it out on a no spend challenge, as follows.
HOW TO SUCCEED ON A NO SPEND CHALLENGE:
- Be Prepared: probably the biggest indicator as to whether you will succeed on a no spend challenge is the extent to which you are prepared for the challenge. A few days before you plan to stop spending money, you should stock up on groceries and gas and any of the essentials that you will need for the week. If you know you will be attending a birthday party or any gathering where you are supposed to bring a gift or a treat, get that stuff purchased in advance so that you won’t wind up having to spend during the no spend challenge at best, and spend too much on a last minute over priced gift at worst. Like in most things, the extent to which you are prepared is the extent to which you will succeed.
- Set a clear goal. Are you trying to pay off debt? Save for a down payment on a house? Earn money to invest? Set a clear and definable goal so that you know what you are working towards. The no spend challenge will be much easier if you have an overarching financial goal.
- Remind yourself of your goal often. Once your goal is set and you are on your way on a no spend week, month, or year (!), there will be many temptations along the way. In fact, you will probably be more tempted than ever to spend money. You will have to remind yourself, probably many times, of your goal(s). Your goal(s) will be the glue that makes you stick to the challenge. Write it down somewhere you will see it often. Hang it in your bathroom, on your fridge, and in your office. Write it on your hand. Do whatever you’ve gotta do to keep that goal in the forefront of your mind.
- Don’t overspend when the challenge is over: It doesn’t do much good to have a no spend challenge if you spend all the money you would have spent during the challenge once the challenge is over. Avoid the temptation to overspend once the challenge is over.
This week in the challenge we have started tracking every single penny that we spend. We started doing this a few months ago and it has really helped us create a budget that actually works for us mainly because we are highly accountable to each other. We’ve used Mint and Personal Capital to track our spending and each seem pretty alright– not without glitches but easier for us than writing it all down with a pen and paper (though I haven’t thrown that idea out yet).
Want to participate? You can join our challenge by clicking here. It’s not too late!
Not a 30 day challenge kind of person? Simply try to not spend money for a few days. I think you’ll be surprised at how easy it is and how much you can get by with— it’s probably more than you think. After that, start tracking all of your spending!
What is the longest you have gone without spending money?