If you’re looking for a way to improve your finances, you should set yourself a no spend challenge. It’s the perfect challenge, regardless of whether or you’re good with budgetting. We are all different and one size certainly doesn’t fit all, so you can flex your challenge to suit your circumstances.
You could start with a no spend day, or go the whole hog on a no spend year (eek!).
Improving your finances in the long term
Before suggesting some different no spend challenges you could try, I wanted to talk about how it improves your finances in the long term. It sounds too good to be true, but a no spend weekend could really improve your finances in the long term.
How? Well it’s a great way to start changing the way you spend. At the moment, spending money every day, or at least every other day is probably completely normal. But a no spend challenge can help you see that spending money every day doesn’t have to be normal. If you can make not spending a normal part of everyday life, you’ll make far fewer impulse purchases and therefore save money.
Its a chance to discover new free and frugal hobbies that you might not otherwise. In my tips for a successful no spend weekend, the most important tip is to make it fun! That means planning something you enjoy but that doesn’t cost money. You might even find your new hobby replaces an expensive past time and gives you less time and inclination for mindless spending.
One of the things I find really powerful is a new found control. At the moment, we’ve become addicted to consuming. If you look at the fashion industry and especially the volume of stuff sold in shops like Primark, it really is difficult to argue otherwise. You can turn your addiction for consuming into one for the feeling of control and empowerment you get from a no spend weekend.
A simple no spend challenge can change the way you approach your finances, and really improve them in the long term. Here’s a few different variations you might want to try:
No spend day
A no spend day does exactly what it says on the tin: no spending for one whole day. That means you should be home cooking all your food. You shouldn’t do any online shopping or be paying for fun activities. If you choose a work day to do this on, paying for public transport might be necessary, if you don’t live within walking distance. The main rule is that you shouldn’t purchase anything.
No spend weekend
On a no spend weekend, you shouldn’t be spending a penny all weekend. This means home cooked food, no purchases, entertainment that is free or uses what you already have. It means moving “essential spending” to alternative days to keep you in the mindset of having spend-free days. I make sure I’ve been food shopping on the previous Thursday or Friday and the car has enough fuel to get us by.
No spend, but save weekend
This is a variation on the no spend weekend. So, everything is the same but there is an extra part to the challenge and that is to find a way to save money. The best way to do this is to reduce one monthly bill, such as utilities, TV, internet, mobile phone, magazine or gym subscribtions. This will benefit every month to come and have a longer impact than a single money saving activity.
If you’ve already got all your monthly contracts as cheap as you can, you might have to do something that saves money as a one off. Such as batch cooking a few meal portions.
No spend, but earn weekend
Another variation of the no spend weekend, but this time with a challenge to earn extra cash. This could be through selling some of your stuff, doing surveys, selling photos online, etc. The easiest way is selling an old camera to CEX or a similar store. Another way might be reallocating some of your ‘non-essentials budget’ towards investments, earning dividends and growing over time.
No spend, but save and earn weekend
If you’re feeling ambitious, you could combine the no spend weekend with save and earn elements, to have an even greater positive effect on your finances. But don’t forget to make time for doing stuff you enjoy too!
The long no spend weekend
Typically, a no spend weekend would cover a Saturday or Sunday, possibly starting on a Friday evening. Why not extend this to cover the Friday and/ or finishing on Monday. A four day no-spend weekend would see you more than half of the way to a no-spend week!
No spend week
Finally, the no spend weekend stretched for a full week. This may need rules to allow you to buy bread, pay for public transport, anything that is essential.
Of course, you can go further and do a no spend month or even a year. I’m not at that stage yet, but I find these give me really great opportunities to make not spending become more normal.
Are you tempted to have a go? Which no spend challenge will you do first?