Today is the first day in our month long series 28 Days of Spending Zero – The No Spend Challenge.
If 15 years ago someone had suggested to me to partake in a no spend challenge I would have thought they were crazy. Ground rules or not, why on earth would I want to participate in a No Spend Challenge and force myself to refrain from spending?
I liked spending – a lot.
Honestly, back then I wasn’t ready to do a No Spend Challenge. I needed to figure out what the heck was going on with my relationship with money. I knew if I could only figure it out it would be the key to my financial freedom.
I’m fortunate to say that I did, in fact, learn what made me tick and why my spending habits were so out of control. It took a lot of work and digging to figure it out finally, but I did, and part of what you’ll be doing during this no spend challenge is aimed at helping you do the same thing.
Since my early days of out of control spending, I have embarked on a few No Spend Challenges offered up by some personal finance bloggers I really admire. But during those challenges, I couldn’t help but think that something was missing from the whole experience.
Sure it was a great way to use what you had on hand and to get your home clean and organized, but I couldn’t help but wonder when we’d get to the meat of the issue. When would we tackle the why of our spending and how to find lasting change and peace?
Today, you’ll embark on a challenge that will help you answer not only the what but the why of your spending habits. Not only will you not spend money over the next 28 days, but you’ll kick start your budget and overhaul your spending patterns. In the end, you’ll better understand the reasons you spend, how to change your thinking, become more enlightened about your money roadblocks and become motivated to do things differently
Don’t worry; I’ll be here every step of the way with you as will the countless others who are on this journey with us!
If you haven’t joined our Private Facebook Group, please join us now so you can get the support you need throughout the challenge.
Do It Alone or Together
Many of you are coming into this challenge as part of a pair. If that’s the case, I want each person to do the exercises separate from their partner. Of course, you can share in the responsibilities around meal planning and organizing the pantry, but any exercise where you’re dealing with your financial beliefs and actions, I want you to do alone and separate.
In Week 2, you’ll have an opportunity to come together and discuss what you’re learning about yourself and your relationship with money. Until then, do each exercise independent from one another.
Get Ready to Commit
I have discovered that once you decide to embark on a no-spend month, you must take a critical first step to committing.
Commitment is a crucial component to any no spend challenge. You’re going to be radically changing the way you look at spending, and it’s not for the faint of heart.
This is the day you will stop making excuses and stop justifying your purchases and will commit for an entire month that you will spend NOTHING.
Are you ready?
This is the month, the first day you will fully commit to a month of spending zero. For 28 days you’ll spend nothing. It’s a big commitment, and you need to be ready.
Is it hard?
I’m not going to going to blow smoke up your skirt. Yes, it will be a bit tough. But the secret to your success lies in your ability to jump in with both feet! (If you’re married, be sure your spouse is on board too.) You can’t go into this challenge half-heartedly, or you will fail.
In my very first No Spend Challenge, I saved quite a bit of money to the tune of $500. It was great to see all the money I had saved from my efforts. From there I made some concrete and permanent changes to my spending patterns that to this day I still refrain from purchasing.
Establishing GROUND rules:
It’s time to set up the ground rules for your month. For me, it was pretty simple: no spending on anything that wasn’t essential.
For me, as a single woman, it meant paying my regular bills and utilities, and some essentials (like a pair of new windshield wipers). The only food I allowed myself to purchase over the month included eggs, fruit, and veggies. The rest of my food came from my pantry and freezer.
Was it challenging? Heck yes, it was! Sometimes I found myself longing for a certain food that didn’t meet the criteria above. It was tough – I won’t lie.
But I did it, and I know you can too!
One of the things that hold people back from actually committing is their worry there’s never a “good” month to make it happen. Every month, it seems, has some particular circumstance—a vacation, a birthday, a holiday. How do you work around those?
The key is accounting for those special circumstances and planning for them ahead of time. I’ve included a worksheet hat can help you account for all those ‘special’ events.
Don’t procrastinate and wait for the “perfect month” to begin because there will never be a perfect month! If you have personal or family commitments coming up, view the circumstance as a challenge to your plan, get creative, and move on. The perfect month will never happen, so rather than putting it off, jump in!
I know it’s going to be tempting, but please don’t stock up before the challenge begins. You can still buy toilet paper if you have too. You can start with a very limited trip to the store or allow yourself a minimal allotment for the basics. $25 should cover whatever you may need during the month that is ESSENTIAL. Assess what you have on hand before you make any trips to the store.
Create your own ground rules that account for your circumstances, and find the best ways to make your no-spend month work for you and your family. If you have an empty freezer and pantry, yes, you might have to do some shopping beforehand, but plan for the month and buy only what you need.
There are a few expenses you can definitely cut out for the month:
- Eating out at restaurants
- Coffee from coffee shops
- Fast food
- Alcohol and other vices
- Lottery and scratch tickets
- Hobbies—crafts, classes, memberships, etc.
- Entertainment – movies, day trips, etc.
- Cosmetics and nonessential personal care items
- Furnishings for your home
Finally, throughout this challenge, there will be many different worksheets and printables for you to use. Consider printing them out and keeping them in a binder or folder so there easy to access and use. They will help you make the most of the challenge. Plus you’ll be able to reference them again and again as you grow in your understanding of money.
Are you ready to freeze your spending and change your mindset?
Today, you embark on what might be the Challenge of a Lifetime. Today, you get to stop spending money and learn the roadblocks that have prevented you from getting and staying out of debt. Today’s the day you get to start improving your relationship with money, so it works for you and not against you. And today your thinking begins to change, and you start seeing money in a positive light.
Today could be ‘the first day of the rest of your life.’