If you’ve never done a No Spend Challenge before, you’re missing out! A No Spend Challenge can highlight weaknesses in your spending patterns that you never realised were even there and make you focus on saving money instead.
Saving money takes motivation. A lot of motivation. It’s like dieting – you’re all excited and motivated when you start, but as the days go by, it takes an increasing amount of willpower to stick to it.
That’s why time based challenges are so much more effective – you are more likely to stick to something if you know when it will end.
Since I started budgeting, the one key insight I’ve gained is how much I spend on little things throughout the month. Especially now during the lockdown, it’s so easy to go down to the local store and grab some quick snacks or a takeaway coffee whenever I feel cooped up. This all adds up unbelievably quickly.
That’s why a No Spend Challenge is such a fantastic way to save money.
You only have one rule. Pick 5 categories and do not spend money on any of these for the duration of the challenge.
So simple, right?
You have a specific goal and a duration. You know exactly when it will finish, thus giving you a light at the end of the tunnel to progress towards.
I firmly believe that time-based No Spend Challenges are significantly more effective than just starting saving without a time goal in mind.
I’ll show you exactly how to set these time goals for your No Spend Challenge below!
What is A No Spend Challenge
A No Spend Challenge is a period when you restrict spending money on anything that is not a necessity. This time period can be whatever you choose – a weekend, a week, a month, or even longer if you are a superhuman!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which means I may get a small fee if you sign up through my link. For full disclosure, please read here.
THE NO SPEND CHALLENGE
For this challenge, you will commit to not buying from 5 categories for the duration of your challenge. What you pick will be personal to you and your family. Follow the steps below and track what you usually overspend, and restrict those.
If this is your first time doing a No Spend Challenge, I recommend you start with a weekend or a weekly spending freeze before progressing to the month-long challenge.
A Month-long No Spend Challenge requires a lot of planning, and you will learn valuable insights by successfully completing shorter challenges so that you can set yourself up for success before attempting the one month No Spend Challenge.
NO SPEND CHALLENGE DO-NOT-BUY-LIST
Here are 5 categories you can restrict when doing the No Spend Challenge:
Amazon shopping is way too convenient. If you have Prime, it’s so easy to impulsively buy something and overspend. Especially now, during the lockdown, it’s very, very tempting to go online and shop.
Personally, this is the first thing I’m saying NO to. I need nothing from Amazon, and surely, I can survive a month without it.
Have you counted how many streaming services you actually pay for? It can add up and be costing you a lot, and you might not even have realised.
I made a list of all the streaming services I pay for, and guys, it’s bad. I pay for Netflix, Prime Video, Spotify, Disney+, YuppTV and KayoSports. That’s $90 every single month. Wow.
Enough is enough. For the No Spend Challenge, I’m keeping one music service and one streaming service and putting a hold on all the other ones. That’s already a $62 saving!
3. Frozen Meals
Don’t buy frozen meals. They are unhealthy, expensive, and definitely not a necessity.
With proper meal planning, you can save money and also improve your health! If you find meal planning tricky, try a service like the $5 Meal Plan, where you get an entire week’s meal plan and detailed shopping lists for only $5.
4. UberEats/Dining Out
With restaurants closed during lockdown, UberEats has become even more convenient. Especially as a busy parent with kids at home all day. The costs can rack up quickly.
However, meal planning can eliminate the need for ordering in food. Pick either the $5 Meal Plan or use my free meal planning printable to create your own meal plan today!
5. Shopping Online: Clothes, Beauty, Shoes
For the next 30 days, don’t buy any new clothes, shoes, or beauty products. Instead, have a look in your closet and pick out 5 things you have not worn in the last month and create new outfits from those pieces instead!
HOW TO PREPARE FOR A NO SPEND CHALLENGE
1. Track your Spending
The first step, before you even start the No Spend Challenge, should be to track your spending. You need to understand your spending patterns so you can see where your biggest spending weaknesses are.
Seriously, it amazed me how much money I saved just by being aware of this fact. If you haven’t done so already, figure out what you’re spending your money on with my nifty 50/30/20 budgeting guide.
2. Calculate Your Necessities
Note down what you usually spend in a month for necessities, including:
- Cleaning Products
- Basic Toiletries
- Pet Food
3. Talk With Your Family
You can’t attempt a No Spend Challenge alone if you are married and/or if you have kids. It will not work unless all of you agree unanimously to do the challenge.
Think about it. How likely are you to see significant savings if you are the only one freezing all spending while your partner carries on as usual? Not very likely.
Your family will be more likely to get onboard if there are fun no-spend activities planned. Check out my list of 30 free activities to do during a No Spend Month (lockdown friendly).
4. Make A Meal Plan
This may seem like the most daunting part of preparing for the No Spend Challenge, especially for the monthly one, but it’s not!
Trust me. You can plan an entire month’s meals at once. It’s not at all hard. I’ll show you how.
Go to your pantry and take an inventory of everything in there. Do the same with your fridge and freezer. Start coming up with meal plan ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner using the items you already have on hand.
A tip I like to use is to make sure I have at least one serving of protein and two servings of vegetables for my lunch and dinners.
Use my meal planning printable. I have broken down lunch and dinner into three categories:
- Base: Pasta, Rice, Beans, Wraps, etc
- Protein: Any choice of vegan or meat source
- Vegetables: Any two servings of vegetables
This printable has saved me so much time! I know exactly how much to bulk cook. I also know exactly how much and what type of veggies I’m assigning for each meal. This makes it very easy to not repeat a certain food item too many times. It’s been a life saver!
Bonus Tip: If you are struggling to come up with enough recipes for the entire week or month, don’t worry. It can be tricky. Try these resources to help with your meal planning.
You can also try emeals, another HUGE time saver, which offers a 2 week free trial!
5. Stock up on Groceries
Once you’ve inventoried all the food items you have on hand, make a grocery list for the remaining items you need. Plan ahead so that you can minimise the amount of times you need to visit the stores during the No Spend Challenge.
Bonus: Sign up for Ibotta (Get a $10 reward too) and earn cashback on your groceries. Get paid to shop!
A No Spend Challenge can be very rewarding and give you fantastic results!
Since we’ve started doing No Spend Challenges, we have saved an average $75 per week. That’s almost $4,000 a year.
A No Spend Challenge is such an easy way to grow your savings account. You can use that money to pay off your debt, invest in portfolios, or save for a home deposit. The possibilities are endless and I really hope you give this challenge a try yourself!