Have you ever done a no-spend challenge? If “how to save money” has been in your Pinterest or Google searches lately you’ll love this. It’s a great way to recover after the holidays or to save money for a vacation. You’ll clear out your pantry and freezer PLUS exercise your creativity.
LWD 2018 No-Spend Challenge
Years ago another blogger, who happens to share my first name, issued a “buy nothing challenge”. For one month you could only buy food, medicine and absolute essentials. I accepted the challenge but since we were on vacation 10 days out of that month, it was only a 20-day challenge for me – not too hard.
Then another blogger began to share her story about what she called “a slow year”. Essentially she bought almost nothing for an entire year. It was rather inspiring and so very interesting to read as the year progressed. I was astounded by her creativity. She no longer blogs but you can follow her on Flickr and see some “slow year” posts here. Oh, and did I mention she lives in France? She’s an American married to a French man and they have charming young daughter. She is truly amazing and well worth following.
Update: She is no longer on Flickr unfortunately. 🙁
Both of these people inspired me to begin doing similar challenges. Periodically I challenge myself to a no-spend month. I have found that January is a good time for this after all the extra holiday expenses in December. But you can certainly do it any time that suits you best. If you have a prolific garden, late summer might be a great time for you because you can eat a lot of fresh produce. If you have a big expense coming up or want to save for something like a vacation, then doing a no-spend month shortly before can be a big help.
Here are some of the reasons I like to do a no-spend month:
- It’s a good way to save money. Yeah, that one was pretty obvious.
- It can help you do a re-set after the holidays. It’s easy to get into a spending habit during the month of December. Not only for gifts but since it’s often a busy time it’s easy to justify extra meals out or convenience foods you might not otherwise buy. Declaring a moratorium on spending can help you get back on track.
- It forces you to be creative. Need a greeting card? Pull out those craft supplies and make one!
- Making meals with the ingredients you have on hand can be a fun challenge. This is also a good way to get into the habit of baking your own bread, making yogurt, and other “from scratch” cooking.
- If your pantry and/or freezer are over-stuffed <raising my hand> this is a good way to force yourself to use up this excess.
My No-Spend Month “Rules”:
- I will allow myself $25 a week to spend on fresh produce and dairy. But no other food items.
- My son’s birthday is in January so I’ll purchase his gifts, of course.
- Obviously, if someone becomes ill and needs medication we’ll buy that.
- My monthly hair appointment is exempt from this challenge. Because…it just is.
- Pet food is exempt. I’m currently stocked up on enough dog food for Shiloh but will likely need more cat food. Not going to starve the pets!
- We will keep meals out to a minimum but I already know we will be going out tomorrow night with our kids to celebrate Chris’ birthday. I won’t suggest going out during this month but if David really wants to I’ll go along with it. This is MY challenge, not his.
Now, let me just say that part of the reason I can do this is because I generally stay pretty well stocked up on most everything we use on a regular basis. I buy toilet paper by the case. When we open the last of something I buy another. We live in the country and are subject to occasional winter ice storms so I find it helpful not to have to run to the store very often. Your mileage may vary.
If you choose to accept this challenge, feel free to make your own rules. Make it challenging but not such that anyone in your family will genuinely suffer. Running out of a needed medication is a problem. Having to make popcorn because you ran out of potato chips is not.
Have you ever done a similar challenge? Would you like to join me? Leave me a comment. And if you have related photos to share on Instagram, use the hashtag – #LWDnospendchallenge and tag me – @life_with_dee – so I can be sure to see them. Let’s see how creative we can be with this!
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