The rule is simple. Cut out all non-essential spending for one month. No dining out. No trips to the craft or home improvement store. No new clothes or gadgets. No movie theatre, local pub, or sports event. Absolutely no credit card purchases.
You still need to pay your normal bills – rent or mortgage, utilities, debt payments – buy perishable food items, and anything else that’s a necessity for you. Everything else is off-limits.
For one month, your goal is to simply use what you have.
The no spending challenge
In our consumer-driven culture, the pressure to spend is intense.
Restricting your spending forces you to look at your life differently. The challenge compels you to pay attention to the things you already have, instead of constantly looking to buy something new.
It’s so easy to say, “I’ll just pop into the store and pick up – a roast chicken, pasta sauce, a new belt, replacement eyebrow pencil, etc. – on the way home.”
Most of us stock-pile too much food. Clear out those long-forgotten canned goods and packages in your overflowing pantry – dig down to the bottom of the freezer.
The internet will tell you substitutions for just about any ingredient. Be inventive and create new recipes with what you have.
If possible, don’t fill up your gas tank – walk or bike, especially those shorter distances.
Avoid browsing at the mall, or online. As much as you can, stay away from people you know spend too much.
Challenge yourself – make it a game. Think outside the box and use some creativity to keep you motivated.
You can do this
It will take a serious commitment to make it a full month without spending. If a month seems overwhelming, try it for a week.
When you are just learning how to budget, you are advised to keep track of your spending by saving your receipts and then analyzing your purchases. The no spending challenge is similar, but instead of a pile of receipts, you have extra money in your account.
I’ll be honest. You probably won’t save a huge amount of money – it’s what you get out of the experience. This exercise could change your spending habits. It’s easy to see what you can’t do without, what could be an occasional indulgence, and what can be eliminated altogether without regret.
Since the rules are personal and flexible, anyone can have a no spending month that works for them.