This last year has been a little busy. We’re getting ready to add Sweet C to the family in a few months, Chris quit his full time job to join me in running the blog and LuLaRoe, we started A-Man’s kindergarten year, and life has just been a really fun and intense ride for us! As we’re hitting the mid-way mark through the year we thought it would be best to do something to help us slow down a bit and regroup. We’ve decided that for the month of July, we’re doing a no-spend challenge. But how in the world can you go a whole month without spending money, and more importantly why would anyone want to?
Why and How We’re Doing a No-Spend Challenge
First off, we should probably clarify exactly what a no-spend challenge is. I mean, obviously, the idea is to not spend money, but how does that work logistically? I guess really it should be called the “no-extra-spend challenge” but that isn’t nearly as catchy! During a no-spend challenge, you choose a set amount of time (we’re doing a month, but you can totally start with a week!) and spending no money on any extras.
It’s totally up to you how extreme you go. Some people pay only their bills and decide to eat from the pantry and use only the gas in their car. Others give themselves a specific “necessities” budget and spend nothing above that. The best part of the no-spend challenge is that it’s your challenge, so you can work it however you’d like!
Why We’re Doing a No-Spend Challenge
Okay, so why in the world would we want to do a no-spend challenge? Well, I’ll share a few of our reasons, but know that you can do a no-spend challenge for any reason at all! Also, the clear disclaimer that these are just the reasons that fit our family and the season that we’re in right now. Your reasons can be 100% different or you can have no reasons and think that we’re ridiculous for doing the challenge. Totally up to you!
So the first reason we got motivated to do this no-spend challenge is that we’ll have Sweet C sometime around the end of summer. While we are firm believers that babies are only as expensive as you make them, and that there’s only a few things you really need for a new baby, we’d still like to save some money to do a few last-minute things. We’ll make our last payment to our doula and have a nice little nest-egg for in case I don’t bounce back into work quickly after birth.
We are also going to be able to pay a bunch down on our debts. With this no-spend challenge giving us a kickoff, we will be well on our way to paying off all of our credit cards within a year. We would really like to buy a house in a few years, so getting rid of that debt is a big goal of ours. Plus when your income varies like ours does, it’s always smart to have the least amount of monthly payments possible!
And finally, our spending has just gotten out of control lately. We are making more money now than we ever have before, and it’s wonderful. When we first got married and this little blog of mine started to make a litle money, we used to chat about what we’d do if we made more money, and both of us were totally sure that we’d be 100% responsible. “We won’t go do anything crazy like buy a new car or a more expensive house or anything just because we can”. Then we started making more money. And we moved into a bigger house because we needed the space (we really, really did!). Then when I got pregnant we realized what a nightmare it would be to fit five car seats into my van, so we got a new (to us) car… And we’re sooooo busy, so what does it hurt to eat out once or twice or several times a week?
We’ve realized that the old saying is true. When you earn more, you spend more. We’re trying to get ahold of our spending, and this no-spend challenge will help with that! We’re going to save so much money by not buying extra little things just because we can, and we’ll start to see where we can easily cut back in our budget.
How We’re Doing a No-Spend Challenge
So first we had to set our ground rules. For us, the main point is to cut back spending on “the extras”. You know, the stop for fast food because Sweet C is telling me I need that milkshake and the trip to Target for one thing that ends up a $100 receipt for things we didn’t really need. With that said, here’s the rules we have set for our no-spend challenge.
- All bills will be paid like normal. We’ll pay our insurance and rent and all that good stuff just like we do every month.
- We have a strict food budget that can only be used at a grocery store. We’re not stopping “real quick” for meals on the go, and I’m even giving up my precious Starbucks. (Pray for me!)
- We will still fill our gas tank. We’re not cutting back here because we only use one car and I have several appointments for me and the baby that are an hour away. I don’t want to guess how much gas that’ll take!
- We are doing one big trip to Target or Walmart to pick up non-grocery living items. You know, toilet paper and shampoo and whatnot. We’ll buy what we need on that one trip, and we will not go back to a Target or Walmart all. month. long.
Now, again, these are just the rules that we have set for our family. Your rules can be totally different depending on where you’re overspending. For example, we’re not stressed about our gas, but we’re locking down the Target trips. Your budget may look opposite! Do what works for you!
And with all of that being said, we have a few instances that we’ve planned ahead that will “break” some of these rules. That’s why we planned ahead for them. My nephew’s birthday is at the end of the month, so we are going to buy his gift on our big shopping trip at the beginning of the month. It’s not really a “necessity” but we’ve built in the budget for it. We also might be taking a day-trip to the ocean with my parents this month. We’re going to spend as little as possible on this trip, but we realize we’ll probably get at least one meal while we’re out.
What You Can Accomplish With a No-Spend Challenge
A no-spend challenge can do some pretty incredible things for your financial situation, and I recommend that everyone try one at least once. That said, we are just starting ours, so I guess we’ll see if I’m still as pro-no-spend challenges when the month is over!
If we succeed in our no-spend challenge and we meet our income goals for the month (remember, our income fluctuates) we should save enough money to finish paying for the doula for Sweet C’s birth, pay several hundred off of the credit card that we’re focusing on first, and possibly add a bit to our savings account for when Sweet C is born.
What else could you do with a no-spend challenge? Maybe you could buy an entire cloth diaper stash for your little one. Maybe it could help pay for lost wages during your maternity leave. Maybe it could completely pay off a credit card, or let you make a huge dent in your car loan. Ooh! We’re half-way to Christmas, maybe a mid-summer no-spend challenge could create your Christmas gift fund!
The point is, whatever your financial goals, a no-spend challenge could be the jump start that you need to get out of debt, increase your savings, or just to have a bit more wiggle room in your budget next month! Have you tried a no-spend challenge?