No-spend challenges are becoming popular and catching on. We seem to live in a world where everyone needs to buy everything they want, and they have to buy it now. Seeing an increase in no-spend challenges means people are exercising their savings muscles and using self-control. A no-spend challenge is simple: Don't spend money on things that aren't a necessity for a pre-determined time period. This type of challenge may be simple in theory, but implementation can definitely be difficult. Here are some tips and tricks inspired by my own no-spend challenge to get you started.
1. Choose a pre-determined timeline for your no-spend challenge. Picking a nice round number makes it easier. I'd recommend something like 90 days, six months or even a year. If that seems daunting, then start with something shorter, like a month. Every little bit counts.
2. Set your guidelines. Do you have a friend's wedding or a special trip coming up? The point of a no-spend challenge is not to force you to cancel prior commitments, but to rein in your day-to-day spending. Set the rules for what you can and can't spend money on.
3. Find a buddy. The best thing I did during my no-spend challenge was team up with two other personal finance bloggers. We were able to hold each other accountable, and check in when things got tough. Having a buddy will increase your chances of success with your no-spend challenge.
4. Put your money towards something tangible. Are you aggressively trying to pay down debt? Maybe you're saving for something big, like a house or a car? Take the money you would normally spend on day-to-day activities and put it in a savings account or use it right away to pay down debt. It might be a small amount each day, but in the long run it will add up and make a difference.
5. Challenge yourself. Nothing says success like accomplishing something that tests what you're capable of. If you know you can do a one-month no-spend challenge, then challenge yourself to do two or more months. It's good to push yourself. You don't know what you can achieve until you try.
At the end of the day, don't beat yourself up if you break your no-spend challenge partway through. It doesn't mean you need to give up altogether. Stay focused on the long term. One minor slip along the way isn't going to make a huge difference as long as you stay committed. Also, remember that bad spending habits can take some time to break. Be patient with yourself. You'll likely find the first few weeks to be the hardest, and that's OK. It's challenging to break your habits, but you'll come out on the other side more conscious of your spending habits, and hopefully a lot richer!
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