5 Steps to Prepare for a Successful No Spend Challenge [tracker & guide]
A No Spend Challenge can be a no spend month or even a no spend year. The time doesn’t actually matter. What does matter is that your spend less challenge is exactly what it sounds like: an intentional choice to opt-out of the patterns and habits that often govern your financial choices; things like comparison and mindless consumerism. And instead limiting purchases to essentials only. It’s a fast from mass marketing and consumption.
With all we’ve had going on around our house, we’ve noticed that our finances can become fueled less by intention (and attention), and more by reaction (and mindlessness).
Because we're always up for crazy challenges as a way to promote lasting change for our family, regardless of the skepticism and doubt from our community (for example...our $100,000 debt pay off in just over 2 years), enter the No Spend challenge. Now, I realize going an entire month without spending will feel crazy town to some people. No problem. You could try and do a no spend weekend. Or, a no spend week. Or, a no spend lunch hour. Whatever it is that would feel like a bit of a stretch, I challenge you to try it.
I love changing things up in my life. So doing something like a no spend challenge feels fun to me. It gives me a sense of aliveness and renewed vigor for achieving that Big Picture Vision of ours.
I do think that a no spend month takes a clear strategy to be a useful vehicle for transformation. So, here are 5 ways to prepare for your No Spend challenge:
1. DECIDE TO DO YOUR NO SPEND CHALLENGE TOGETHER
Talk to each other and decide on your Big Why for the No Spend month. Do you want to use the extra money to pay off debt? Or, maybe you’re saving for a vacation coming up. Or, maybe you’d like to use $100 of the money and go out to an amazing restaurant together after your successful no spend challenge? Figure out why you both would like to do this and post it up somewhere visible so you can remember.
2. CREATE YOUR NO SPEND CHALLENGE GUIDE
Set your own rules for the No Spend challenge. Decide what is OK to spend money on and what is a definite “no way!” Write these down and post them with your Big Why - research shows, time and again, that it's critical to have systems in place to handle questions BEFORE the questions arise.
Here is our No Spend Challenge Guide Rules\\
Always check the pantry and freezer before making a menu plan for the week and base the menu off what we already have.
It’s OK to buy groceries. We have 6 people in our household and entertain often. We plan to always ask our guests to bring a dish - more potluck style than pure entertaining.
It’s OK to buy things that are absolutely necessary - like doctor visits or car repairs!
DO NOT BUY: clothing; dining out (no matter how much the kids are whining); anything that is not a NEED. No toiletries. No Target runs. No new fun things for the house. No stuff for my business.
It’s cool if your No Spend Challenge rules look different than mine. Create the rules that work for you and your family, and stick to them for however long you decide.
3. MAKE A NO SPEND CHALLENGE PLAN
For us, creating a plan full of action items and ideas that will help us succeed with our no spend challenge is key to making it through while achieving our big Vision on the other side. Here are some no buy month ideas that we’ve come up with.
Our overspending has forever centered around food, (6 mouths to feed is a LOT) so, we will continue our meal planning procedure in order to make the most of the food we have at home. If you want to see how we make a meal plan every week, with an accompanying grocery list, check out my video here!
Aside from a meal plan, also make a plan for packing lunches and giving yourself time every morning to make and eat breakfast. This will avoid any desperate trips to Starbucks. “Fail to plan and you plan to fail.”
We’ll also plan a fun, free outing once a week, but make sure we pack food to ensure we don’t have last minute hangry people making spending choices that don’t support our Big Picture Vision.
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4. Include your Kids by creating a No Spend Tracker
Hopefully, you’ve already discussed this whole no spend challenge idea with your spouse and you’ve both decided on your Big Why for not spending money. But, don’t forget about the kids. It’s important to me that our children see that sacrificing in the short term is not about punishing ourselves for past spending choices, instead it’s a conscious decision to seek awareness in our otherwise mindless consumption.
We seek growth in our home. Always. If it takes some sacrifice in order for me to better understand my Vision and Values, so be it!
We talk to our kids about our 10 Year Vision, and they get really excited about it. Share your Vision (if you’re wondering how to create a Vision, don’t worry. I got you!) with your kids and see how they respond. It might motivate them to make the most of the no spend challenge.
A fun exercise would be to create a no spend challenge tracker together. Every time you all choose to say no to something you would have ordinarily bought, write it down. By the end of your challenge you’ll see how much you actually saved and have a visual of your tenacity and grit! You can even offer your kids a celebration if they help you stick to your no spend challenge goal!
5. Create a no spend challenge positive mindset
This might be the MOST important preparation for a No Spend challenge. The power of positive thinking is real, (if you haven’t read “Mindset” by Carol Dweck I’d recommend you add that to your short list. It’s a life changer.) and will not only help you get through the month but will be your best friend in rocking your no buy challenge.
Like Mary says: "In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun." Find the fun, friend.
Put it in perspective, AND make sure your perspective is in line. Yes, this month is going to be a challenge - any disruption to habits and behaviors is - but think of how it will feel on the other side. You will have a new depth of awareness about your budget, you'll likely have extra money to go towards whatever your goal is AND you will have accomplished something really hard.
And once we start seeing that we’re capable of hard things, there’s really no stopping us!
You can do this. And you’ll be financially stronger on the other side!
Are you in?!
P.S. Don’t forget to head over to my shop and get your very own copy of the NO SPEND CHALLENGE WORKBOOK for 50% off since you’re a blog reader of mine! Use the code BLOGLOVE on your order, and then make it happen friend!