In a world where you have to spend money to acquire the things necessary for your basic survival, it is important to understand and appreciate the value of money. So what is a 30 day no spend challenge?
A 30 Day No Spend Challenge is a challenge where people attempt to survive for thirty days spending nothing at all (except pre-planned essentials). The goal is to get some clarity on how much money is spent on things that are unnecessary, an understanding on how easy (or difficult!) it is to spend on non-essentials, and to save some money at the same time!
Let’s take a look at what a 30 day no spend challenge is, and the different ways of completing it.
What is a 30 day no spend challenge?
A 30 day no spend challenge is the process of not spending any money for a period of 30 days. That is, aside from set outgoings such as rent or mortgage payments, groceries, bills and pre-planned essentials.
Setting a no-spend challenge for 30 days is a popular amount of time because it is long enough to see results, but not too long that it becomes impossible to complete. You are likely to see a real difference in your bank balance, and a real difference in your attitude to spending money after the challenge has been completed.
After the challenge you should see areas where you might want to loosen up your budget. You’ll identify areas where you’d like to spend more- and areas where you’d like to spend less. You will identify spending that you’ve really missed (for example, perhaps going out on a date night), and purchases that you didn’t miss at all (maybe you usually get your nails done and actually enjoyed a DIY manicure instead).
You might also be interested in reading: How To Live On A Budget In London
What are no spend days?
No spend days are days when you don’t spend any money other than pre-planned essential expenses. E.g. a weekly food shop. There is some dispute about what constitutes a no spend day, but in theory it should mean no additional spending other than essentials.
It’s up to you to decide what is essential spending. However usually it would include the following; rent or mortgage payments, monthly bills and direct debits, groceries, travel costs.
How do you get started?
You don’t have to start a 30 day no spend challenge at the start of the month. However, it does help you to stay organised. The challenge lasts 30 days from the first day that you don’t spend money.
Before you start a 30 day no spend challenge, ask yourself the following questions:
- How much money do you spend in a month usually? (Look back over your last 3 months of bank statements and take some averages).
- What are your monthly essential expenses?
- When will you start the challenge and on what date?
- What would you like to achieve by completing the challenge?
Once you have answered these questions for yourself, you’re ready to go! Be sure to note down your monthly essential expenses, and calculate the amount of extra money you would usually spend in a given money in addition to this amount. In theory, this should be the amount of extra money that you will save during the 30 day challenge.
Use this figure to motivate and inspire you. When you have a figure to work towards, it can help you to keep your spirits high throughout the challenge. It can also make you more likely to successfully complete the challenge.
As well as an end figure, have a financial goal in mind too. For example, if you anticipate that the 30 day no spend challenge will leave you with £500, what will that go towards? Will it be a debt payoff payment? A mortgage overpayment? Savings towards a holiday or the cost of Christmas? If there is an intention behind the saving, you are more likely to pull out all the stops to reach that goal.
You might also be interested in reading: What is the 50 30 20 Rule Of Budgeting?
How to successfully complete a no spend challenge
A no spend challenge is tough. Especially if you are used to spending money daily, or if you are prone to emotional spending. If you have a day when you are feeling low, it may take all of your strength not to spend money to try and make yourself feel better.
Here are some top tips for successfully completing the challenge:
– Complete all of the prep work. Get your numbers in check, your goal set, and your start date ready. Being organised before the challenge will make you more likely to complete the 30 day challenge successfully.
– Have a plan. Make sure that your essentials are covered for the 30 days. You’ll need to work out how much money you will need for your essentials for 30 days. Use a spreadsheet or an app to keep track of your spending and how much you have left in the bank.
– Go cold turkey. Leave unnecessary cards and cash at home. Don’t go into your favourite stores to browse. Go for a walk on your lunch hour instead of going to the shops. Socialise for free by going for walks or by hosting friends and family at home (or visiting their home!)
– Plan before you go food shopping. Create a meal plan each week, and then write a grocery list and stick to it. If you don’t, you may be tempted by extras in the supermarket which will add up to a greater spend.
– Have some food in the house already. It’s a good idea to complete a 30 day no spend challenge when you already have some basic groceries in the cupboards (if possible). For example, lentils, pasta, tins, frozen items. If you need to reduce the food supplies in your cupboards you will be doing yourself another favour! Having food at home also reduces the temptation to spend money on takeaways or delivery when you are hungry and don’t have anything in the house to eat.
– Shop in discount supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl. They have a great selection of foods and lower prices than regular supermarkets, especially in the frozen and fresh aisles.
30 day no spend challenge printable
You can keep track of your no spend challenge by using the free Thrifty Londoner 30 Day No Spend Challenge Printable. It’s totally free to you as a reader of this blog post!
Your printable is an instant PDF download, and is set up so that you can cross off each no spend day as you go. You can also set out your goals on the no spend challenge printable. After all, it is much easier to keep going when you know that there’s a finish line to race for.
Download your printable challenge tracker here.
A printable is a great way to keep yourself accountable and on track. You can print off your challenge tracker and pin it up in a place where you will see it often. It will help keep your motivations high as you cross off each day throughout the month.
And if you end up spending some money? Write it down in the printable tracker, and at the end of the month you can review where you spent money and why. This will help you better reflect on your spending attitudes and habits at the end of the month.
You will learn more about yourself and your spending patterns than you ever thought possible!
You might also be interested in reading: How To Save For A House Deposit
No spend challenge ideas
There are a multitude of ways that you could complete a no spend challenge. There is no right way or wrong way. Here are some ideas that you might not have thought of. You can even complete a no spend challenge on a single area of spending that you wish to reduce!
You could complete a 30 day no spend challenge with a friend. This would help to keep you both motivated and it will give you a partner in crime to share your experiences with. You could also try a no spend challenge with your partner. If you are in the same household this would help you to complete the challenge with success.
A no spend challenge with friends or your partner can be a great way to bond, and it will save you both money. You’ll also save money by cooking at home instead of eating out, and you won’t have the temptation of someone else wanting a takeaway!
Document your journey
Share your 30 day no spend challenge with others. You could also share your experiences on social media, or blog about it. People love reading about other people’s no spend challenges and they will likely try to complete a challenge of their own in response. I loved reading about this challenge and this challenge.
If the thought of a 30 day no spend challenge seems too taxing, why not limit the challenge to one area of spending? For example, if you want to cut down on the amount you spend on food, you could undertake a 30 day no food spend challenge. Of course, you would still need to spend money on essential groceries, but you could challenge yourself not to spend anything more than a given shopping list each week.
This would force you to use what is in your cupboards, bring lunch to work, avoid extra snacks, and stick to a meal plan. If food is a high spend area for you, it would be very beneficial to see where you could cut back.
And remember, document your challenge using the 30 Day No Spend Challenge Printable!
Phase out your spending
Cut back in phases. Sure, the idea of removing all non-essential spending to save more money sounds great on paper, but in reality? It can sometimes be very difficult to go completely cold turkey on your spending. Instead, over the course of the 30 day spending challenge, you could phase the challenge by splitting it out into 4 week segments.
For example, on week one you cut out online (and in person) shopping. On week two, you continue to cut out online shopping, but also cut eating out and takeaways. Week three, you’ll be continuing to cut out shopping, restaurants and take out, and you’ll also bring lunch to work every day. And finally, on week four you’ll cut out all of the above, plus you’ll also commit to just one essential food shop a week.
The phases will be totally unique to you depending on your spending habits and where you’re looking to cut back. Make sure the phases and categories that you intend to cut out are going to challenge you, and you’ll be gradually introduced to spending less and less without feeling too restricted.
You might also be interested in reading: Zero Based Budgeting- How Can It Help You?
What are the benefits of a no spend challenge?
There are lots of benefits of completing a no spend challenge. It can give you greater visibility and understand of how, when and where you spend your money. It forces you to face up to your spending (past and present) and makes it easier to make changes to your spending patterns in the future.
Challenge your current spending habits
Are you really spending your money in the best way for yourself and/or your family? A no spend challenge makes you confront your spending habits. There’s nowhere to hide- especially if you are using the Thrifty Londoner 30 day no spend challenge printable!
You might find that you are actually spending more than you want to in certain areas of your life, and identify some areas where you’d like to cut back. You can spend more on the things you care about when you spend less on the things that you don’t.
Identify spending behaviours and patterns (good and bad!)
A 30 day no spend challenge will highlight when and where you are likely to make impulse purchases, spend more than you want to, and any emotional spending patterns. It will make you more self-aware when it comes to your attitudes and behaviours around money.
For example, if you have a bad day at work, perhaps your first instinct would be to go home, get a takeaway, and perhaps treat yourself to an online shopping purchase. When you’re completing a 30 day no spend challenge, you are “meant to” resist these impulses. And if you do decide to spend money, it shows you that this is an area of spending that you are vulnerable to in an emotional situation.
Go back to basics
If anything, a no spend challenge shows you how little you can spend when you put your mind to it. If you’ve fallen victim to lifestyle inflation (the idea that when your income increases, your outgoings do too), a no spend challenge can help you to get back on track and see what spending is serving you, and what is not.
Good luck with your no spend challenge, and remember to grab your Thrifty Londoner 30 day no spend challenge printable to help keep you on track and boost your chances of success!
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