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No Spend Challenge Rules In 2021

2021 is almost over. It seems like it was just yesterday that the pandemic started, we were all forced to stay at home, and some of us (or a lot of us) lost their job or businesses due to the continued onslaught of the virus not just on everyone’s health, but also the global economy. But the year isn’t over yet. There’s still time to reinvent yourself, or in this case (if you haven’t done it already), change your spending habit. Yes, we cannot go out and do some Christmas shopping, but when businesses moved their products and services online, it suddenly became more evident that you don’t need to leave your house to do your groceries or start your Christmas shopping. I’ve made another article about DIY Christmas crafts and gift baskets you can do and gift your family or friends, and this article will also help you to save money. But first, let’s dig deep and define the no spend challenge rules.

What Is The No Spend Challenge?

A no-spend challenge, often known as a spending freeze, involves putting a stop to all unnecessary spending for a set period of time. Because it's your challenge, you get to set the rules. Make a list of items you will not buy and stick to it. After that, decide on a time frame. It may be a weekend, a week, a month, or the entire year! When you're faced with temptation, find an accountability partner to assist you.

For the past year, I haven’t bought any new clothes, shoes, accessories, even makeup! (except skincare). This long-term spending freeze requires a strong sense of self-motivation and conviction about why you want to do it in the first place. What exactly is "your why"?

What motivates you to accomplish this? Are you attempting to pay off your debts? Are you putting money aside for a vacation? Do you wish to get rid of your debt? Are you aware that you simply have too much stuff?

Benefits Of Doing The Challenge

It has many benefits, such as:

  • Changing your purchasing patterns to cut down on impulse buys (e.g. getting coffee at your local coffee shop)
  • Increasing the speed with which you achieve your financial objectives (e.g. early retirement, paying off student loans, saving for a house)
  • You expand your horizons and push your boundaries (i.e. you make the most of what you currently have). It makes you resourceful and inventive. You know the difference between a genuine need and a desire.)
  • To prevent having to pay for things, you should master new talents (i.e. You learn how to fix things so you can use them again.)

What Are The No Spend Challenge Rules?

A no-spend challenge's first rule is that you get to make your own rules.

However, most people recognize the following general standards as no-spend challenge rules that must be followed in order to be successful:

  • Understand why you do what you do.
  • Set a deadline for yourself.
  • Set aside ‘cheat' days in advance.
  • Include only necessary expenses in the challenge.
  • Before going food shopping, eat from your cupboard and only buy the essentials.
  • Don't go shopping right before (or right after) the challenge.
  • Don't give up if you make a mistake.
  • Use any money saved after the challenge to pay off debt or put it into savings.

What's The Best Way To Get Started On A No-spend Challenge?

The most difficult part of a no-buy challenge is getting started.

You might be thinking that a no-shopping challenge necessitates a great deal of self-control and determination. It isn't quite as much as you believe. You can customize your no-buy challenge to fit your requirements and lifestyle. You may make it as simple or as tough as you want.

The first step is to determine the type of no-buy challenge you want to participate in. Here are rules you need to determine:

  • Allowances: What you’re allowed to spend money on
  • Time frame: What’s the time frame of the challenge

How To Pick A Timeframe 

There are many timeframes you can target depending on your comfort level and financial goals. Here are 4 options.

No Spend Weekend Challenge

You can try a no-spend challenge over the weekend if you're just getting started with your savings and want to ease into it. Most likely, you'll concentrate on hobbies such as:

  • Finding free activities and entertainment
  • At-home cooking
  • Going for a walk (as opposed to driving)

No Spend Week Challenge

This no-spend challenge takes it to the next level. Weekly meal preparation could be part of the no-spend week.

This eliminates the need for take-out for lunches and dinners. You don't buy coffee and instead, make it at work or at home.

No Spend Month Challenge

This is a difficult challenge, but the benefits are worth it. This is about committing to a long-term lifestyle change rather than a one-week experiment. It's about breaking potentially harmful habits like purchasing and replacing them with less expensive (or free) hobbies over time. Going for a month is not just impressive (and long), but it also indicates that you're ready for some major changes. You're turning your no-spend acts into habits with this no-spend challenge. You ask yourself if you actually need something whenever you want something. You're increasingly deciding to be content with the material things you have and to make the most of them.

No Spend Year Challenge

A year of “buying nothing” is a lifestyle change.

To go a year without buying, you'll need to develop new skills and employ imaginative techniques.

If you value travel, you may choose to concentrate on less expensive options such as camping.

If you enjoy eating out, this year is a great time to learn how to make your favorite foods without breaking the bank. It's worth noting that this buy nothing for a year challenge extends to significant festivals and events such as Christmas and birthdays. You'll have to think about DIY gifts, no gifts, or giving the gift of an experience, such as taking them to a free event or hiking.

It's a challenging goal to undertake, but not buying anything for a year will broaden your perspective on life. You will grow in unexpected ways as a result of this. Choose a time range that is challenging but not too unpleasant for you, based on your lifestyle and goals.

You want to increase your chances of success as much as possible! Start with a weekend challenge if you're new to frugal living. You can gradually go to a week and finally a month.

Expenses Excluded From The Challenge

List of Monthly expenses in paper w/ pen & calculator
List of Monthly expenses in paper w/ pen & calculator
  • Mortgage/rent
  • Utilities
  • Phone
  • Internet
  • Groceries
  • Insurance
  • Medicine
  • Gas
  • Debt payments
  • Transportation expenses
  • Free entertainment

Expenses Included In The Challenge

  • Restaurant meals
  • Salon services
  • Cable/Streaming TV
  • Clothing/shoes
  • Paid entertainment
  • Alcohol
  • Gifts
  • Hobby gear
  • Other ‘wants’

What Is The 30-day Rule?

The rule is straightforward: if you see something you want, wait 30 days before purchasing it. If you still want to buy the item after 30 days, go ahead and buy it. You will wind up saving money if you forget about it or realize you don't need it. Money that isn't spent is money that isn't spent.

If you buy things on the spur of the moment, the 30-Day Rule can help you learn to delay gratification and make wise financial decisions. It might not work at first. However, if you have a few situations where you decide against making a purchase, you will begin to feel better about it. You may be able to reduce impulsive purchases over time.

How Can You Carry Out A No Spend Challenge Successfully?

Let’s discuss some of the rules we’ve mentioned above.

Determine WHY You’re Doing This No-spend Challenge

You need a goal to motivate yourself especially when you feel the urge to spend. It might be the objective of saving towards a

  • Vacation
  • Car
  • House
  • Retirement at a young age!

Put this goal somewhere where it will be seen, such as the refrigerator, a whiteboard, or your computer's screensaver. You should stroll past it every day to remind yourself why you're taking on this project. Why is it worthwhile?

Talk To Your Family And Friends About The No Spend Challenge

Your influencers are your family and friends. You want them to be completely on board. You want to be around individuals who are supportive of you. People who are rooting for you. It can be awkward to bring up the topic of the no-buy challenge. You don't need to turn it into a major debate. Simply indicate that you're participating in the no-spend challenge and why you're doing so. You may pique their interest and/or motivate them. We can all connect to the topic of saving money. They could also be looking for innovative ways to save money.

On a related subject...

The no-buy challenge is a terrific reason to say "no" to your pals when they invite you out to dinner or coffee. Because you don't want to miss out, it can be difficult to say "no" to your friends...

You might use the no-spend challenge as an excuse to recommend a different activity that does not require spending money. Hiking, hanging out at the park or beach, or board game nights are just a few of the free activities you may do with your pals. Spending time with your friends is the goal of hanging out with them. You don't need any money to accomplish this.

Make The Best Of What You've Got

Make use of what you have in the pantry and freezer. Cook up those dry beans that have been sitting in your pantry for months! This is a perfect time to clean out your cupboard and use foods that may be near to expiring that you aren't even aware of.

There are a couple of different options available to you:

Different types of giftcards in store aisle
Different types of giftcards in store aisle
  • Make use of whatever gift cards you already own.
  • Make use of points from your loyalty card
  • Make a deal with what you have.
  • Consider exchanging your time for items you require.

When you start looking for alternatives to spending money, you may get incredibly inventive.

Accept The Challenge Of Learning New Talents

You will inevitably have to master new talents as part of the no-spend challenge. It could be preparing food. Learning how to repair a device. You're going to have an issue. While you may be frustrated and desire a quick resolution, look at this as an opportunity to learn. A chance to mature.

Look for that YouTube video on how to solve the issue on your own. We are really fortunate to live in a time when so much knowledge is freely available on the internet. Make use of it! It's nice to fail since it means you're still learning!

Look For Free Stuff To Do

Nowadays, there is a multitude of opportunities to obtain free items. You can use services such as Freecycle, a network of over 5000 groups with over 8 million members that give items away for free. The Buy Nothing Project Group is another option. They work in a similar way to Freecycle.

There are numerous local Facebook groups where members of your town are giving away free items. Look for local "buy and sell" (sarcastically) or "mom" or "dad" groups. Cleaning, relocating, and downsizing are all common activities. They don't want to offer their stuff for sale or hold a yard sale. They'll simply leave it on the curb and publish an ad in the group announcing the availability of free items.

Reduce Your Spending

This self-reflection might be a painful awakening, but it's an essential step in completing a no-buy challenge effectively.

Consider what you've bought in the last year that you didn't really need.

Here's a list of things I don't buy or buy only occasionally:

  • Makeup: Since the pandemic started, I don't wear much if any at all. I might touch up my brows and eyes if I'm going out, but I won't be using foundation, concealer, bronzer, or anything else. Not only has it saved me a lot of money, but I've discovered that it's also better for my skin because it doesn't clog my pores.
  • Hair products: This may appear to be an unusual no-buy challenge, but have you heard of the no-poo method? It's when you don't wash your hair with shampoo. You can try it for yourself too.
  • Haircuts: There are a lot of videos on Youtube teaching anybody how to DIY haircuts. You may need to order hair razors and a hair-cutting cloak online.

Hide Your Credit Cards

Woman hands holding three credit cards
Woman hands holding three credit cards

Take your credit card away if you're the type of person who is constantly enticed to buy items. You may easily buy superfluous items and spend money beyond your means thanks to the convenience of utilizing credit cards.

You are the only one who truly understands yourself. If you're having trouble controlling your spending, put your credit cards away and just use cash.

Distracting Activities That Encourage Shopping Should Be Eliminated

Woman shopping in mall
Woman shopping in mall

Consider the following:

  • Don't go to the mall.
  • Do not go window shopping on the internet.
  • Unsubscribe from emails with the most recent sales information.
  • Don't go to websites that promote the latest fashion or technology trends.
  • When you're watching TV or listening to the radio, avoid the commercials (they're designed to get you to spend money!)

Replace your typical shopping time with a hobby that isn't about spending money, like reading or playing board games with your friends or family.

Consider Whether You Really Need To Buy Something

If you have a genuine need for anything that isn't on your pre-approved list of necessities (as defined by your no-spend challenge criteria), ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did you require it the day before? This will assist you in determining whether it is truly necessary.
  • Are you receiving the best price if you buy it now? If not, save your money and wait till the proper time, which may be Black Friday.
  • Is it possible to wait until after the no-spend challenge to buy it?

You can write it down to get it off your mind. Bring up the list of products you wanted to buy after the no-spend challenge to determine if you still want them. It's likely that you'll have discovered a solution to the problem. Or you discovered you didn't require it as urgently as you believed.

  • What exactly are you getting out of this purchase?

Are you experiencing happiness on a short-term basis? Is it a genuine sense of joy? Are you purchasing something because it is popular? Maybe it has something to do with a perfect image? We often buy goods to meet an immediate need or to symbolize what we wish to become. There's nothing wrong with purchasing items that make you happy. It's a good idea to be aware of your underlying purpose for purchasing and see if there's another method to be happy.

  • What other options do you have for resolving this issue?

Is it possible for you to borrow the item? Is it possible to acquire it for free? Is it possible to get it used?

What Will You Do Once The No Spend Challenge Is Over?

Congratulations on your accomplishment!

It's not easy to refrain from purchasing anything new for a set length of time. For a job well done, give yourself a pat on the back. Now is the moment to ponder before you go back to your old behaviors.

  • During that time, how much money did you save?
  • What have you discovered?
  • What are some new habits you'd like to implement into your daily routine?
  • When would you like to start your NEXT no-spend challenge?

While no spend challenges are effective at increasing your savings in a short period of time, it is the growth and development that occurs throughout that time that will result in significant long-term savings.

Consider how saving a $5 coffee every day multiplied by five days per week, 52 weeks in a year, and ten years is $13,000! That's only for ten years! If you do this for 30 years, you will save $39,000. So go ahead and do this challenge when you think you are ready!

About The Authors

Alberto Thompson

Alberto Thompson - I live in Vancouver, Canada, and work as a web developer and graphic designer. Back end programming (PHP, Django/Python, Ruby on Rails) to front end engineering (HTML, CSS, and jQuery/Javascript), digital usability, user interface, and graphic design are all areas of web development where I spend my days. I'm a huge fan of web creation and design in all of its forms, as well as assisting small businesses and artisans with their online presence.

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