4 Lessons From My No-Spend Month
Back in February my family and I (mainly me and my husband as the kids were NOT psyched about the “no spend” aspect of the no-spend challenge) decided to do a No-Spend Month. Sam and I felt pulled to try something new with our finances as we’d realized during one of our January budget meetings that our money felt a bit out of control.
We really wanted to understand what was happening with our spending, and having a no-spend month was a super practical way to do this.
I wanted to be sure to give you my lessons from my No Spend Month so you can rock yours!
Our challenge gave us lots of insight, and even some leftover money at the end of our month – which is always nice.
4 LESSONS FROM NO-SPEND MONTH
First, let me start with the data.
Through February, we spent $1100 less than we did in January. While that is definitely not chump change, it also wasn’t as life altering as I had hoped. When we started the month, I thought it would be at least $2000. Which leads me to the principal lesson for us:
IT’S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY
Yep. The transformation from the work of a no-spend challenge is not actually about the money. Instead, it’s about the knowledge you gain from choosing to change your habits. I’ve said it before, but if you want different results you must be willing to do live differently!
For us, we found that we were mindlessly spending money on eating out. We’d be tired or just didn’t plan well for a specific day and eat out because of those choices. For the month of February, we were VERY intentional on making sure we had meals planned and snacks packed.
We were ready with a healthy snack on hand for any hangry tiny person (or hangry big person, for that matter). This helped us avoid the always easier (and much more appealing) option of going out to eat. Which, for a family of 6 looking to eat real, whole food usually costs us around $40-50!
And, it worked. And, it’s still working.
That’s what I mean when I say it’s not about the money. It’s about changing habits that weren’t getting you to your ultimate Big Picture Vision. We have most definitely changed our dining out habit. It feels really good. And that feeling leads me to lesson #2:
Just like everything in life, it’s important to realize that this challenge is a choice. It’s a choice we made because we wanted to know more about our spending habits and how to save more money. It was our choice. And we are glad we made it.
Don’t go into this challenge feeling like you’re going to be restricted and everything is going to suck. With that attitude it most certainly will.
We chose to make it a game, and it totally worked. While there were moments where I REALLY wanted to go out to dinner with my husband or go get a coffee – mostly it was fun to get so creative with our date nights and find ways to work together as a family!
We did things we likely wouldn’t have done otherwise. Like eating dinner before we went out on date, which happened to be at the YMCA where we enjoyed the hot tub before walking over to a bookstore to read and talk. It was amazing, and proved to us that some intention and creativity are the ingredients of an amazing time of connection and pleasure.
It’s clear, though, that mindset changes take time. We’re changing habits here, and habits entrenched little friends (or, not friends) that don’t release easily. So…
LENGTH OF CHALLENGE MATTERS
I am sure that if we would’ve only done the no spend challenge for 7 days that I would be reporting very different results to you right now.
Our whole goal with doing the challenge was: 1) to see what choices we were making that weren’t in line with our Values and that were causing our cash flow problem AND 2) to change those money sucking habits into new habits that pushed us closer to our goals!
A 7-day challenge would not have gotten us to our ultimate goal of changing our habits. A month felt like the perfect length of time. It was long enough for us to “feel” the changes, but not so long that it began to hinder our life.
Push yourself. Shoot for a month and see what happens!
Before that, however, gather your people around and take advantage of this final lesson:
ACCOUNTABILITY MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE
Keeping your mindset positive during a 30-day challenge can be a struggle. So, find an accountability partner. Of course your spouse needs to be on board so that you can reach for your goals together, but I’m talking about more than your spouse. Find a friend, or a few friends that you can do the challenge with together.
For our challenge in February I started a Facebook group. It was really great to share tips I was finding or special grocery deals or motivation for the day, and to receive that same motivation in return.
One participant in the group was so excited about what she was learning about her spending habits that she extended her no spend month into March!
Change is possible but it can be hard. Changing TOGETHER makes anything easier!
There you have it; my four major takeaways from my no spend challenge.
In a nutshell, I would definitely do one again. I think we’ll make it an annual tradition.
If you’re looking for a way to get prepared for your no-spend challenge, click on the button below to get your very own “No-Spend Challenge Checklist!” It will guide you in preparing for your challenge and have you ready to say “nope” to frivolous spending so you can say “yes please” to your Dreams!
Go get ‘em!