Wondering how you’ll find extra money to save for something, pay off debt, or maybe just to pay the basic bills? It’s already difficult to just pay the bills. You’ve tried cutting back as much as you can, but it’s not enough. Try a no-spend challenge in 2019. If you’re like me, I’ve heard of these, but what is this and how do you do this? Well, look no further because we’re going to go step by step with tips and ideas along with a no-spend challenge printable, available to download, to help.
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What is a no-spend challenge?
It is an amount of time where you only spend money on things that are necessary.
The big question next is well, what is considered a necessary expense? This was my question when I first heard about no-spend challenges and to be honest, it was my excuse to not try this. I rationalized it by saying, I didn’t know what a necessary expense was. I got so caught up in the little details, instead of seeing the bigger picture.
Necessary expenses will vary by person and perhaps each time you do a no-spend challenge. The rules you set will be what you consider necessary to spend money on. The rules other use for their no spend challenge may not be the same rules you set for yourself.
These are examples of what most would consider necessary expenses and include things like paying:
house note or rent
If there is a birthday that falls within the challenge time period that you need to give a gift, you can include that as being necessary.
There really is not a right or wrong way to do the challenge. The goal is to save money for a particular reason.
You make your own rules!
You can do this challenge multiple times and each time use different rules. The important thing is to identify what the rules are before you start. It helps you as you go through it.
“Don’t think of saving money as a punishment. Think of saving money as a lifestyle change and a means to freedom.” -Emily G. Stroud
How long is this challenge?
That is up to you.
month (30 days)
The most popular ones are a weekend or a 30 day no spend challenge. But you can do a day, week, or year no spend challenge. You might want to start with a weekend and do a month the next time. I’m not sure I could do a year-long one, but I’ve read where some have.
If you’re looking for a quick win, do a weekend one. The first time you do it, you may realize as you go through it that you didn’t think of certain expenses to include or exclude from the rules. As with anything, the more times you do something, the easier it will be. The stricter the rules, the more difficult it will be, but the amount saved will probably be higher.
How much do I need to try to save?
This will vary for everyone. Some factors to consider when setting this goal is to look at the length of time for the challenge and the range of difficulty you plan. Remember, you make the rules. For example, saving $10 at the grocery store for a month would be easier than trying to save $200 at the grocery store for that same time period. To save the $200 would include being creative with making meals and snacks with things you have on hand already in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer.
Where do I start?
1. Start with “Why” you want to save money. Determine what you are saving for: a vacation, pay off debt, car, down payment on a house, etc.?
2. Drill down, even more, to determine the real “Why”. What will going a vacation mean to you? Perhaps, it is a family reunion that you don’t want to miss. What will paying off debt means to you……less stress? This is very important because, during the challenge, it can get difficult and to stay on track, you will need to remember why you are doing this.
3. Next, you’ll need to define what your rules will be. What type of things do you want to cut back on or eliminate completely?
4. Get the family on board. You may need to say no to some expenses during the challenge, so discuss the challenge, the why, the rules, etc. with them. They may have great ideas on how to save money too. Try to make it a game to make it fun.
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe
How can I stay motivated during this when it gets difficult?
Doing this money-saving challenge does not mean that everyone stays home bored doing nothing. Plan free fun activities to do together.
Visual reminders will also keep you motivated. If it is a vacation, post a picture of the destination on your refrigerator to see it often.
No Spend Challenge Tracker
I have a free no spend printable for you when you subscribe to our emails. It is a great way to see what days you achieved the goal. This can be a great reminder and way to see your progress. You can use this no spend tracker multiple times and put a sticker or checkmark on the days you accomplished your goal. Let the family get involved by letting them put the sticker or checkmark on it. The more involved and engaged the family is, the easier it will be for the no spend challenge. They’ll understand why you’re not going to go to the movies, etc.
What does an example of the no spend challenge look like with my budget?
It starts with a budget and then it’s tweaked so that a certain amount can be set as the goal. It is the plan or roadmap of where expenses are going to be cut in order to save money. Read more about budgeting here with Steps to Find Financial Peace Budget 101. This will walk through how to budget step by step.
The areas (groceries, eating out, entertainment, and clothes) in this example are the areas to focus on in the challenge.
To reduce groceries, you could reduce buying soda and convenience items.
Use what is in your pantry. That can be a challenge or game by itself to see what you can make with what ingredients you have already. It’s another way to prevent any food from expiring before you get to use it.
Shop for items on sale.
Eating out tips
To reduce eating out, bring your lunch to work, meal plan, etc. If you do eat out, pick a less expensive place. Perhaps you can eliminate appetizers, desserts, and order water to reduce expenses. For help with meal plans, read here.
To eliminate entertainment, look for free activities in the community, have game nights, etc.
Game nights are fun, and you probably have games and cards already. If you’re looking for new games, some of our family favorites include Life and Jenga. Working on jigsaw puzzles is also fun.
Many communities have fun activities that are free. Research to find what and when they are.
Facebook is an easy way to research these. Look under events and you can filter by location such as nearby or a city. You can also search by when they are such as today, tomorrow, this weekend. Searching can also be done for events by various categories like art, music, food, etc.
Once you find an event, click on the link to be able to pull up more information about it.
Check your local newspapers for free events. Radio stations and billboards around town will advertise certain events as well. Friends and family are also a good source to find what is going on in town that is a free or low cost, so ask others.
To eliminate clothes, don’t buy new clothes. I have a habit of buying something because it’s on sale and not necessarily because I need it in my wardrobe. If something comes up that you must buy, look for items on sale or a second-hand shop like Goodwill.
One of the important things is to give yourself grace. Life happens and things will come up that will derail your no-spend challenge. When this happens, just pick up where you left off and continue it the best you can. Any money saved is better than nothing saved.
Use the no spend challenge to find what extra money you need. Determine what you’re saving for and the “why”. Define the rules for the challenge and get your family involved. Stay motivated to continue, because it will be hard at times. Download the free no spend challenge tracker by subscribing to our emails. This printable makes a great visual of your progress!