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  • Jordan White

30 day no spend challenge - January 2023

Updated: Dec 23, 2022




What is a no spend challenge?


The concept of a no spend challenge is simple:


Avoid spending money on certain things for a set period of time. You’ll continue to spend money on essential things such as household bills and food. And with the cost of living impacting us all, a no spend challenge can help us rebalance the books.

A common misconception is that you don’t spend anything during a no spend challenge.

Remember – this challenge is all about avoiding spending on excess; things that are contributing to your debt/inability to save money.


Why should I do a no spend challenge?


The most obvious benefit of a no spend challenge is that you’ll save some extra money. But it’s really just a bonus.


A no spend challenge is all about changing your attitude to your money; it could be changing your attitude to spending, realising you’re buying things you don’t really need or even want. In the long term, a no spend challenge can help you feel more financially comfortable and give you a greater sense of the value of your money.


No spend challenges can be any amount of time.


As the old saying goes, it takes 21 days to form a habit. So a 30-day no spend challenge, although tough, will reap benefits in the long run.


Preparing for a no spend challenge


1) Decide what you want to stop spending on


It’s a bit like giving something up for Lent. You want it to be a challenge, but achievable.

So think about what you spend a lot of your ‘extras’ money on:


It’s a bit like giving something up for Lent. You want it to be a challenge, but achievable.

So think about what you spend a lot of your ‘extras’ money on:

  • Clothing

  • Eating out (only grocery shops count as ‘essential’)

  • Alcohol

  • Going to events

  • Internet shopping

So let’s say you buy lots of non-essential stuff online every month.


Your 30-Day no spend challenge is to not buy anything online that isn’t essential.


2) Tell friends and family you’re doing a no spend challenge


If your challenge involves avoiding spending money on things that are sociable e.g. eating out or going to a bar, then tell people you usually do those things with.#


We can often feel a bit ashamed to say no to social events as we feel like we’re letting our friends down, are just being boring or have FOMO.


Be positive about your no spend challenge and be honest with your loved ones about why you’re doing it. They’ll be impressed with your willpower to do it and understand why it’s going to help you.


In addition, you could use social media to get more support. Search for hashtags such as #nospendmonth or #nospendchallenge and see what other likeminded money savers are getting up to.


3) Time it right


I like to do a no-spend challenge at two times of the year:

  • My birthday month

  • January

If you do a no-spend challenge the month of your birthday, it eases the pressure a little. You get lots of free stuff on your birthday in the way of gifts and treats which can help you if you’re used to spending your money on things for yourself.


Tip: Don’t ask for gift cards for your birthday. If you do get any, put them away until you’ve finished the 30 day challenge.


January is also a great month to do a no-spend challenge. You’ll find lots of people are starting new years’ resolutions and generally reigning in on spending as they try and pay back the debt they got into over Christmas.


Also think about things coming up where you’ll need to spend money. I wouldn’t do a 30-day no clothing spend challenge if I was going to a wedding and needed a new shirt or shoes.


Alternatively, if I was doing a 30-day no alcohol spend challenge, and going to a wedding with free booze, that could be a great month to do that type of challenge.


Tips for a successful 30 day no spend challenge


Great stuff. You’re ready to get going. Let’s make sure you do as well as you can over the next 30 days.


1) Replace your spending with something else you enjoy that’s free/cheap


Of course, the things you’re spending on right now are probably giving you pleasure. So you need to find something else enjoyable that you can replace that with, without spending more.

  • Having friends over for a drink or movie night

  • Exercise more

  • Get more use out of your gym membership – swim, go for a sauna, take a friend with you.

  • Read

  • Bake

  • Cook something from that recipe book you’ve never used

  • Find a nice weekend walk to go on

  • Clean and clear your home

Remember – lots of things we buy in excess are things that give us temporary pleasure. By telling our brains we don’t need those things to make us happy, we can get pleasure spending far less.


2) Try to chill out


When we’re stressed we make bad spending decisions, mostly because retail therapy gives us stress relief. Yes, retail therapy is an actual thing, not just a marketing term.


So try and plan for some quiet times, get away from the stress of daily life and keep as centred as possible over the next 30 days.


Some of the tips above can also be great for stress relief.


3) Try to reduce how often you buy anything


Hopefully your major bills like rent/mortgage and utilities are automated. That means you don’t need to physically make any of those payments.


For food shopping, or other things you’re continuing to buy, it can be useful to do less of those things too over the next 30 days.


For example:

  • Do a big weekly shop instead of lots of little shops

  • Fill the car up once a month with fuel

  • Make your own lunches and coffees

By simply using your card less and less, it will help you break the habit of getting out your card all the time.


You may even find you have some days where you spend nothing. Now we’re cooking with gas.


4) Take it week by week and praise every win


Like starting a new diet or giving up smoking, you have to take a no-spend challenge slowly.

  • Map it out week by week and get organised

  • Have things planned to keep busy and remember why you’re doing this challenge

  • Do a shout out on social media using the hashtags I previously mentioned.

5) Don’t panic if you have a blip


We’re all human. Mistakes happen. If you find yourself breaking the rules during your no spend challenge, the best thing you can do is learn from it.


Try to figure out why you spent money. What was the emotion behind it? Can you better deal with that emotion next time?


What happens when I’ve finished my 30 day no spend challenge?


First of all, congratulations. It takes willpower and a real desire to want to change your behaviour if you’re going to complete a no spend challenge.


After 30 days, you’ll have saved a bit more money. A bonus. Put those extra savings to good use.


Most importantly, you should have learned that even though you may have missed some things, you’ve realised you didn’t need them as much as you thought you did.

You should have a better sense of the value of money.


You can go back to spending money on the things you cut out for 30 days, but now you’ll be more self-aware. You’ll think more clearly about spending and be less likely to spend on impulse.


Summary


A 30-day no spend challenge is a great way to improve your relationship with your money.


While helping you save a bit more, the main purpose of a no spend challenge is to create better spending habits.


Complete it and you’ll learn lots about the value of money and get financially smart.

Its a great mental challenge that you can use time and time again to take control of your finances and feel financially comfortable

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