This post is in partnership with Lexington Law, thank you for supporting brands who support TCM. As always, all thoughts, opinions, experience, and advice is my own.
I'm so excited to talk with you guys today all about the ins-and-outs of doing a no-spend challenge! September is a FANTASTIC month to do a no spend challenge IMO. It's just after the end of summer and back to school shopping and just before the holidays start picking up and could be the exact cushion your bank account needs right now! But honestly, any time is a great time to do a no-spend challenge since it's all about putting yourself first!
I think we all wish we had more money! And it’s so easy to lose sight of where all the holes are in our spending as we move through life. Years ago I did a no-spend challenge that ended up lasting TWO years! It completely changed my relationship to my finances and I knew I had to share it with you all!
What is a no spend challenge and why should you do it?
A no spend challenge is when you decide to stop spending money on things you don’t need. Yes, you obviously can still get your essentials, but no more shopping trips to the mall, impulse app purchases, or random home decor finds.
Personally, I think everyone should do a no spend challenge at least once in their life for 30 days to really bring awareness into where their money is going. It’s easy to forget about a $1 here or $5 there and not really realize where thousands of dollars are going each year. Aside from awareness, I think a no-spend challenge can really change one’s relationship with consumerism, at least it did for me.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I’m definitely not a fashion blogger – I’m a total outfit repeater. But what if I told you that in high school I was actually a total clothes horse. I mean I literally didn’t repeat the same outfit within a month. I shopped every weekend and had more stuff than I knew what to do with. That all changed at 19 when I started my no-spend challenge that ended up lasting two years. I realized during that time that I liked having money in the bank more than tons of clothes that I only wore once in a while. It brought me more happiness to invest in myself with things like massages, or have the funds to take care of my future and invest in professional credit repair services with companies like Lexington Law, instead of handing over my hard earned cash to giant companies that truth be told, don’t care about my future or my bank account.
And of course, a no spend challenge makes it much easier to reach your financial goals! So whether that’s repaying debt, improving your credit score, saving for a home, car or travel it’ll definitely help move you forward!
What’s the game plan?! How do I set myself up for success on a no-spend challenge?
Step 1: First things first, get CLEAR on your needs and essential purchases!
If you’ve already been working off a budget, this will be a little easier, but I recommend writing a list and then crossing checking it with your credit card, debit card, and other bank statements to ensure you aren’t missing anything!
Some essentials for me: Health insurance, the dogs and Eric’s medication, internet, electricity, food and all that good stuff.
Remember everyone is different. So I don’t have a car which means no monthly gas for me. Even if you do have a car, maybe you decide that you’ll only use it if you’re going somewhere more than a mile away. If it’s under a mile you can walk, ride a bike, or look into public transportation to cut down on gas. Again not essential, just something to get you thinking outside of the box on “essentials.” You don’t have to get that caught up in the minutiae for “essentials vs non-essentials” though, at the end of the day this should be a simple, clear guideline that you feel is doable. The last thing I want you to do is feel like it’s so impossible or complicated and you end up giving up. So again, keep it simple and clear.
Some examples of things we don’t need but spend money on would be a cleaning person, dry cleaning, music streaming services, nail appointments, and random home decor purchases.
Step 2: Be clear on your goal, write it down!
So i’ve been talking all around it at this point, but it’s essential to get clear on what your goal is with the no-spend challenge! Is it to pay off debt? Get your credit score up? Save for a new home? A trip to Bali? Great! Write down your goal here! The more specific you can be the better, feel free to include how you’ll feel once you reach this goal and any sub goals you have in terms of what you hope you relationship to money will be like after.
For example, my relationship with money and shopping particularly changed after my first no spend. I no longer was an impulse shopper, but instead today, if there’s something I want, I’ll wait 2-3 days and if I’m still thinking about the item, I’ll go back and get it; but most of the time I’ve forgotten about it and I save a ton of money this way!
By writing this down, in detail, and putting it somewhere visible, it’ll help you stay motivated – because let’s be honest, we all know motivation has a half life and you may need a kick in the butt half way through!
Step 3: Think about obstacles and solidify your plans
Start by deciding how long you want to do the no-spend challenge for. Is it until you pay off your debt? Reach your saving goals? Or is it 30 days? A year? Personally, I prefer to do it for 30 days rather than based on your goal. I think it adds a little less pressure and it’s nice knowing the exact end date.
Next, consider your obstacles like family and friends. You’ll want to get them on board so they can support your rather than hinder you. That means letting them know you won’t be dining out for however long, but if they want to come over for a potluck dinner and game night, you’re in! You may even find that your partner or friends want to join you in the challenge as accountability buddies which would be ideal!
Next, consider how you’re going to manage your finances. Some people like using the old school envelope system where they know they need a certain amount of money for the month on essentials, so they pull it out in cash, put it in an envelope and only pull from that for the month.
Others stick to using their credit cards in order to get the points and since they’re spending less, they know they can pay the balance off in full each month. And since your credit score is weighted based on your most recent spending history this may help improve things. If you’re working with credit repair experts like my friends at Lexington Law, always check first and get their advice on how to proceed.
Step 4: Set yourself up for success!
For me, that meant immediately unsubscribing for every store email. I just didn’t need to see it. I also added an extension on my browser that blocks ads so I wasn’t as targeted while online.
You also may want to avoid trigger places for yourself like the mall or other stores that you go in wanting toilet paper and come out with $500 in home decor items.
Alright, that’s it! Remember to express gratitude throughout the challenge. I think one thing that shifted a lot for me in doing this was that I have a lot more gratitude for the items i do have. I realized how much I spent before on things that didn’t really bring me joy – when in reality I had so much more than millions of people out there. Instead today, I’d rather focus on taking care of the things I have and always feel like I have more than enough to be happy. I’m not keeping up with anyone but myself.
And if you’re looking to really step up your financial game by repairing your credit to make reaching your financial goals even more seamless, check out Lexington Law Firm who has helped hundreds of thousands of clients take action and repair their credit over the years. Unlike other credit repair companies, they don’t trick the bureaus into changing your report. Instead they leverage every legal standard available to consumers to ensure both accuracy and fairness. They also work with their clients to repair their credit with integrity and provide tons of educational articles to ensure clients have all the tools they need to make long lasting, meaningful changes to their spending. Click the link in the description to learn more about getting started with Lexington Law Firm on your credit repair today.