Today might seem like an unusual time to be talking about not spending. If you’re anything like me, you’ve woken up to a day promised to be apocalyptic, only to find that everything is all okay and you still need to do your Christmas shopping. Oh, and pay your last phone bill.
Christmas can put an enormous strain on our wallets, so why not look at finding some financial breathing space sometime in the next week? Between Christmas, New Years and a family holiday, a day or two undertaking the No Spend Challenge might be the financial buffer you need.
No Money Out Challenge
The first style of No Spend Challange means exactly what it says- you can’t spend anything. This is one day out of your week where you don’t pay the bills, don’t pay for public transport, you put the brakes on all kind of spending. The benefit? It’s the perfect way to kick off a new frugality regime, or recoup some of the costs of Christmas and New Years. A lot of personal finance writers talk of the initial success of one day a week, and how it’s extended into a couple of days every week and influenced their overall financial behaviours.
Only Essentials Month
The second- and more common- No Spend Challenge is to spend nothing but essentials. For a month. Think that sounds easy? Think about all the extra chocolates we buy while waiting at the counter, the late-night Amazon purchase, the couple of songs on iTunes we desperately want to listen to. The benefits are huge. Your bank account grows, and you can relearn financial behaviours in order to improve your finances once the one month has elapsed. Here are some of the tips and tricks on how to achieve this major feat.
A Small Budget
Mortgage, rent and utilities aside, work out a budget for food, entertainment and transport for the week. For the first week of the month, perhaps make the budget $200. If that’s achievable, the next week, see if you can get it down to $150 or $100. Not only does the No Spend Challenge immediately improve your finances, it also shows very clearly how much of our money we waste on small purchases or things we don’t use.
Use Your Pantry
You’ll notice groceries are the largest cut once you’ve established your budget. The key to keeping within the set amount? Use everything within your pantry. Buy food as fresh as possible, and anything you can get in bulk (and use) from a local wholesale provider will keep your family well-fed throughout the belt-tightening 30 days.
People who have undertaken the No Spend Challenge talk about the surprising savings they discovered. From homemade laundry detergent through to the amount of free activities that are available and enjoyable, the No Spend Challenge forces us to reconsider how we spend money and, with a little extra effort, whether we can adapt ourselves and save money. Certainly, with the stress of Christmas, it might be the perfect New Years resolution. Why not spend your January soaking up the sun, re-reading all your favourite novels and dining on homemade tortillas? Fun, relaxed and proven to help your bank balance.