You prolly seen such no spend challenges being taken-up in Instagram. Some people decide to go total bonkers and Instagram being the perfect place to show off those shoes, showing off the amount can even motivate you (and others!) to save more.
C’mon, showing off isn’t necessarily a bad thing… if you show off how much money you saved and how you’re going through your #debtfreegoals and #financialfreedom , you find more people like you! That just encourages you more!
How this concept came into being
The best concept of a no spend month can be seen during the World Wars. In America, as able-bodies men and animals were being supplied to the wars, agriculture slowed down.
New manpower was required to sew uniforms and build ammunition – and basically, that’s how women started working, and that’s how the skirt came into being.
With all the machinations, poor industry standards and minimum wages, people had to start being creative. They had to make the best out of waste. They had to learn how to become frugal and save as much money as possible. The government encouraged these behaviours, and they started "Meatless Mondays" and "Wheatless Wednesdays" campaigns.
Examples during Depression
To cut out consumption of goods and supply as much help as they could to the army, the Government put up posters and educated people on how they could help America and maintain that unity and pride about them. The first step was to bring awareness about unity in tough times.
There are so many other great examples, small or big, that the US government brought the whole nation together. Now, this post is not about how great they were, but it just pays to tell you that all the bits (citizens) and pennies (small repetitive expenses) count up.
No spend usually means
Now, contrary to popular belief, a "no-spend challenge" does NOT mean literally not spending a single penny. I’d like to think of a spending freeze challenge as "purge challenge". Or pantry challenge.
Remember: bills such as rent, electricity, loan payments DO NOT COUNT under the no spend challenge.
Now, I wouldn’t say I have been disciplined enough to go through the whole month and spending as less as possible, but I do something quite similar.
Let me explain.
The 10th of every month is payday (yay), so, in the beginning of each month, I use only the things which I have in my home. It usually means purging or consuming all the eatables first, because they are perishable items. So these 10 days, I avoid buying milk (it’s essential, but I want to finish all the things) as much as I can and make food at home only.
What challenges come in way
The worst barrier on your way to a zero spend month is money itself.
Money is such a taboo in the society that you feel so ashamed to talk it out loud. Your friend’s birthday is around the corner, and you forgot about it UNTIL last night, so you gotta buy a gift for her….
OR you had a really really bad day at work and just want a drink and doze off…
And the lack of motivation itself is a major mood-killer. If you think you would fail anyways, then you’ll never be able to get ahead.
How to fix them
If you want to fix problems, you need to cut those problem-causing elements right at the source.
And as you go through a no spend challenge, you will see that the best way is to communicate openly. Talk to your family members or your close ones about this challenge, and how they can help you complete it,.
No spend challenge rules
- Have a support system open. Tell your partner or best friend about this challenge and ask them for emotional and psychological help as you walk down this road.
It is extremely necessary to be shamelessly upfront about why you started this in the first place. Whenever you feel like giving up, or whenever you see a great sale coming up, ask yourself these questions:
- How do you feel right now? Do you feel like that sale is never gonna come again? Well, so is your money!
- Why did you start this in the first place? To save money? To make up for all the foolish stuff you bought? Or to fill up your emergency funds etc?
- After the spend-freeze challenge is over, what will you do with all the saved money? To plan that trip around the world? Or something else?
- What do you think will be stopping you from completing this challenge? What scares you the most?
- What excites you about this no-pantry challenge? Do you want to see how much of perishable food you already have that could last you for days?
Let me tell you about my personal experiences with living with all I have.
So I asked myself the above 5 questions, and my answers were as follows:
- I feel motivated and want to see how far can I stretch myself.
- I started this zero spend challenge because I realised I overspent in makeup items in the past 10 months. I decided to sell some of my stuff and make up for the lost money.
- After the zero spend challenge is over, I will invest in a good induction and stove top compatible pressure cooker, so that whenever I shift cities, I’ll be able to save more money by preparing my meals from home.
- I am scared that I will not be able to stop myself from having drinks during the weekend. I am scared my friends would mark me as a social outcast.
- I am excited and curious to know how much can I live up to the "use it, wear it, make it do or do without" motto can I live up to.
Day one. I realised I have run out of milk, and that I will be needing it for my breakfast the next day. I am a sucker for milk. So I go through my kitchen and see what all can I "use up first".
Turns out I had fruits and nuts to last me four breakfasts.
I had enough supplies for meals, so I proceeded to "use them" with care.
It went fine for 3 days.
But then, a sale came.
So I called my support system (AKA bestie) and told him about the hard times I was going through.
He hemmed-hawed for a few minutes and finally retorted back,"I bet you’ll give in to those brown lipsticks."
I stubbornly barked,"No."
"I bet two dark chocolates."
You know the thing with best friends. They know you so well that they can tell each atom apart in me.
Turns out I am a sucker for dark chocolates as well. And stubborn too. So I forgot about the sale and stayed strong.
I think you can guess how the next 7 days were spent, hmm?
So, it basically was a good time.
I have no spend days every 30 days, where I can purge all the edible, perishable, food items and plan how much I will be needing for the next coming month. I like to plan my food expenses for the whole month before hand.
It’s true, some months I overspend my food budget. Or entertainment budget. Those no spend days are relentless and merciless. I literally make sure that the age-old frugal adage "Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without" is implemented point to point. My motive is to make up for all the lost money.
And when I grow week? (Pardon the pun). I use my support system.
Trust me, that’s how I get free dark chocolates and butterscotch ice-creams and beer. I literally feel like Pavlov’s dog. A stubborn one, though. My bestie is a great budget-man. Sticks to his budget just like gum sticks to your hair.
SO! How did your no spend challenge go? Did you successfully survive it? Do let me know in the comments below!!