Is there a better time to start a No Spend Challenge than during the Season of Giving? While the Holidays should be about giving of yourself, not to yourself, it can get a little murky this time of year. I often fall prey to the inundation of consumerism and marketing; seemingly endless sales paired with stress of work and dark, dreary days, shopping for yourself rather than others can feel almost inevitable.
The No Spend Challenge starts today, Nov. 16th and it will go for 50 days, to January 4th. At first I thought about doing another 30 day challenge from Nov. 16th – Dec. 26th but then I realized that the challenge would end right at the start of the dreadfully tempting Boxing Week! (Remember when Boxing Day was actually just a single day and not an entire week of the year?!) Obviously it is foolish to end the No Spend Challenge right at the beginning of a cultural spending frenzy. Also, I know that I also am prone to overspending around the New Year, especially on clothes, so I decided that it was best to extend this challenge past the New Year. Moreover, since I am a music teacher, I actually make less money in December and January because I teach fewer lessons. So not only am I prone to over-spending during this season, but I am also making less money! Not a good combination. It makes for a stressful New Year – having to bootstrap it until February 1st. The final impetus for this No Spend Challenge is to support a friend. She is making a big trip to New Zealand in the New Year and wants to do as much saving as possible over the next few months in preparation for her travels. It can be hard to try and save during a time when it feels like everyone is spending MORE money. I’ve found that having accountability partners, like I had in my last 30 Day Challenge, is very helpful. It’s nice to have someone to check in with when you’re working toward a goal.
What are the perimeters?
The basic idea is to not spend money on anything that you would consider to be a gift to yourself for 50 days. Obviously what you consider to be a gift to yourself is subjective, but try and be strict about it: no new clothes, makeup, skincare, housewares, decor, stationary, even excess spending on food or restaurants. While we should do our best to curb spending, some special exceptions can be made. Exceptions may include restocking, (if you run out of facial cleanser, you can re-purchase it). Another exception may be going out to a nice restaurant with friends, as opposed to getting take out at the end of the week because you don’t feel like cooking. This challenge is meant to rein in unnecessary personal spending but not to the point that you to miss out on quality time with friends and family.
I’ve found that the consequence that I’ve used in my previous No Spend Challenges has been very effective. The consequence for any unnecessary personal spending is that you have to put double whatever you spend into your savings account. So for example, if you buy $40.00 on shirt, you have to put $80.00 into savings. This is a great way to deter yourself from actually buying the item in the first place because you are effectively parting with three times the amount of money you’d be spending on that particular item. It’s harder to convince yourself to part with $120.00 for a $40.00 shirt. If perhaps you do end up buying a personal item, it’s not the end of the world as long as you adhere to the consequence of making that purchase. You’ve neutralized your “negative” action (spending) with a positive action (saving).
- To focus on generosity and abundance over consumption and scarcity during the holidays. By saving money I might otherwise spend on myself, I will have more spend on others, whether that’s through gifts, experiences, shared meals or homemade treats.
- To not blow my budget on things that I don’t need. I don’t want to go into this New Year feeling remorse and guilt over the way I handled my money throughout the Holidays.
- To be an accountability partner to my friend (and whoever else would like to join us) to support each other’s financial self-care! It can feel isolating and lonely when you’re trying to go against the grain – in this case refraining from spending when the culture at large is pushing you to. Accountability partners are so important when working toward a goal. Moreover, financial responsibility is a form of self-care that is often neglected and not talked about. We’re often in the dark about other people’s struggles with finances and budgeting and I think that more open we are about it, the better equipped we can be to make healthy decisions around both saving and spending.
Please let me know if you’re interested in joining us on our 50 Day No Spend Challenge for the Holiday Season and let me know what your goals are in the comments below 🙂