For those of you feeling a little worse for wear after the New Year’s celebrations, we’ve got a good idea for a cleanse that doesn’t involve dieting or limiting your favourite treats.
Instead, it’s about all about spending less money.
It’s called the ‘no-spend challenge, and it’s a chance to build conscious financial habits, by going through the rest of the month without spending another penny on anything non-essential (don’t worry, bills and food are still allowed).
Why try a no-spend challenge?
Unsurprisingly, this kind of frugal challenge is typically taken up by people who are trying to save money or avoid going over their budget. But that’s not all it’s good for: actively avoiding spending any more than you have to is a great way to become more aware of your spending habits, and start to build up financial willpower. It can also help to inspire healthy habits in other areas of your life: for instance, if you decide that no unnecessary spending includes treats and ready meals as well as clothes and nights out, then it could help you to start cooking healthy meals from scratch.
How does it work?
There are lots of different sets of rules and guidelines out there – we recommend coming up with your own, so that they can best encapsulate your financial objectives. Keep them simple and consider the following principles:
- ‘No-spend’ doesn’t have to mean the same thing for everyone. It could be only spending money on absolute essentials, but if that sounds a little bit too dramatic then you could consider stopping spending in one or two specific areas instead. The important thing is to define what it means before you start and then stick to it.
- Consider whether or not you’ll be allowed ‘cheats’. A cheat could be one day a week that you’re allowed to buy a premade lunch, or it could be a certain type of event that you’ll still participate in (e.g. saying no to drinks out with friends, but counting it as a ‘cheat’ if you’re celebrating someone’s birthday).
- Decide what you’re going to do with your leftover money sooner rather than later! This is the fun part of not spending any money for the next month, and if you have a clear goal in mind, such as saving for a holiday, then it will help with your motivation.
Tips for success
Avoiding spending any money for a whole month is not for the faint hearted. One of the best ways to stay on the right track is with accountability: make sure you’re keeping a record of what you’re doing, and if possible have somebody else to check in with – maybe a buddy who has a challenge of their own that you can help track. Some people choose to post about their no-spend challenge on social media, sharing the creative ways that they’ve avoided spending money. This is a good way to stay accountable, but if you’re a private person then you could get a similar effect by journaling your experience.
The important thing with this sort of challenge is to have fun with it. It will be tough, but if you find it stressful or uncomfortable then it might not be right for you at the moment – and that’s okay. The point is to build a healthy relationship with your bank balance, however works for you.