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Want to Save Fast? Try the No-Spend Challenge

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no-spend challenge

If you want to save a lot of money in a short amount of time, there are a few ways you can do it. Normally, saving a large portion of your income requires a lot of focus and willpower. But because it’s a challenge, why not also make it fun?

The no-spend challenge is a method that makes saving engaging and fun. This can make saving much simpler by making it easier for your brain to want to think about saving. 

Let’s go over how it works.

What Is A No-Spend Challenge?

The no-spend challenge is a set period where you try to spend zero money. It’s essentially a spending freeze.

To complete the challenge, you need to make it through a set period with just small allowances for bare essentials. This is the part where it becomes more variable. Your no-spend challenge can allow for groceries and either public transport or gas. You can then add set payments like utilities and insurance. But apart from mandatory spending and your allowance, spend nothing.

Why Should I Do the No-Spend Challenge?

The most common reason to take up the challenge is to reset your habits or save after splurging. Otherwise, it’s a good challenge to quickly save some money for an important goal. Some examples include:

  • Making up for recent vacation spending
  • Kickstarting a new savings account to work towards a new car
  • Preparing for a larger payment towards student debt
  • Starting an emergency savings account
  • Resetting your financial habits

The list of reasons to take the challenge is essentially endless. It’s a fun and helpful way to work towards many financial goals.

So, let’s get into the gritty details of your own no-spend challenge. 

How to Do the No-Spend Challenge

First, you need a goal. This is a simple step, as your goal is likely what led you to read this article. If not, then just pick a goal from the back of your head. Any motivation to save money is good motivation!

Second, you need a realistic timeframe. If you pick too long a timeframe, you will suffer unnecessarily, if you don’t just give up. If it’s too short, you won’t have made any real progress by the end. The goal of the no-spend challenge is to kickstart savings or reset habits, so pick an appropriate timeframe. One or two weeks is a good starting point for your first challenge. Good templates can include:

  • Weekend no-spend challenge
  • Weeklong no-spend challenge
  • The monthlong pro-no-spend challenge

Also, feel free to get more creative with your title. After all, fun is an important part of the plan!

Now, we need to get into the details that are certainly less fun. You need to set allowances for the few things you are allowed to spend money on.

What not to cut

We’re not trying to starve you to death or render you unable to get to work. If we were, how would you be able to complete the challenge? 

Set a frugal but adequate budget for essentials:

  • Groceries
  • Minimal transportation (to and from work, groceries)
  • Unavoidable spending:
    • Mortgage or rent
    • Utility bills due during the challenge
    • Useful membership dues, such as your gym
    • Phone and internet bills due during the challenge

What to cut

Your savings will come from your minimalism. So, these are the items you will naturally avoid completing the challenge. You won’t be able to spend money on things like:

  • Entertainment
  • Clothing
  • Activities
  • Unnecessary/gratuitous groceries
  • Taxis/Uber/Lyft
  • Shopping of any kind
  • Hair cuts and salons
  • Eating out
  • Drinking out, whether it’s coffee, wine, or anything else
  • Anything else you want, but don’t need to survive

Preparations

It’s best to set the total money you’ll need aside from the beginning of the challenge. Take all the money you’ll need for your bills and put it in an envelope right now. Then, make your pile for grocery shopping and transportation. Only take what you determined you’ll need for allowance. 

This step is important if you want to maximize the results of the challenge. By setting aside your funds before you start, it’s easier to stay on track and keep your spending minimal.

Avoiding Temptation

Lastly, while the no-spend challenge can be fun, it’s only as useful as you let it be. So, try to find free ways to distract yourself before you get started. Planning ahead in this way is important for longer-lasting challenges. Get your pastimes in order first.

If you end up reverting to bad financial habits during the challenge, you run the risk of failing. Normal modern activities like browsing shopping sites are not recommended. You can be inspired to save for a certain purchase. But shopping sites and social media ads are designed to maximize the viewer’s chance of making a purchase.

If you feel like getting started, plan ahead, stay on track, and have fun!

Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/advisor/banking/using-a-no-spend-month-to-save-money/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/joshuabecker/2020/10/29/the-ultimate-guide-to-a-no-buy-year/?sh=7440450e244f

https://www.modernfrugality.com/how-to-do-a-no-spend-month-that-will-help-your-finances-long-term/

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