There’s no specific moment where we (The Reddell’s) started to incorporate no-spend challenges into our money routine that I can remember. When budgeting entered our world, only about 4 years ago, we started to become aware of our spending habits. Which let me tell you, was heartbreaking 100%. You realize how much money you spend without really taking things into account. Which is why a no-spend challenge is amazing. It forces you to be more aware.
What are no-spend challenges
If you never have heard of a no-spend challenge, basically you ditch purchasing stuff that doesn’t fall into the category need. You will have to decide what those things are for you. The beauty of the challenge is that you get to decide how you want to go about it. Maybe you want to stop buying clothes so you can appreciate the ones you have. Or you just want to save some money. Anything is game.
Next is to decide how long you will put yourself to the challenge. A year? A month? A week? For us, we find that 2 weeks is the max length that we can do these challenges. Our goal is to always save money and we give ourselves some pretty strict rules to follow, which is why our timeline is so short. The other day we were talking and have decided that the first 2 weeks of every month needs to be a no-spend challenge for us for the rest of the year. Send help.
What I’ve learned from these challenges
We’ve done so many of these no-spend challenges that they are a lot easier now. But I won’t sugar coat it to say that it’s always amazing. These things are tough. It sucks to have to tell your friends that you can’t do X, Y, Z because you’re on a no-spend challenge. To have to tell your child that we can’t buy a small treat because it’s no spending week. It’s a battle between being able to exercise self-control and self-motivation to stick to a promise you made to yourself.
I’ll be honest to say that I struggle with keeping promises or goals I’ve made for myself. I feel bad if I break things with other people, but for myself, it comes so easily. I don’t think I’m alone in this though. I’m not sure why so many of us think that it’s ok to break promises to ourselves even though it’s not ok with others. I’ve come to learn that this behavior has made me believe that I can’t follow through with things. I can’t take myself seriously. I can’t rely on myself for the things that I want. Which by the way are all such destructive beliefs to have.
Throughout the many no-spend challenges we have done, we still aren’t perfect. We still give in to our desires and purchase items that are technically a want, not a need. If you know anything about us, our temptation is always with food. But I have noticed, that the more we do these challenges, the less we give in to temptations. It’s become easier and easier to keep to the promise we made to ourselves to purchase only needs.
I’ve also noticed that for me anyway, I’ve learned to not beat myself up so much when I screw up. For so long if I screwed up, I tended to just give up. I would tell myself that since I screwed up, it was already pointless. I was so harsh on myself for not being able to stick to something I had made my mind on. But I’ve noticed that has changed since doing these challenges. Do I still beat myself up? Sure. But it’s not as long and I don’t let myself give up on our goal of no spending.
The crazy thing is that these things that I’ve learned from these no-spend challenges, like self-motivation, self-control, tackling things that hard, completing things I’ve promised myself has helped me in other parts of my life. It’s changing my character and track record. It pushes me to rely on myself to do hard things and not always needing an external accountability factor. It has helped my self-confidence level and the way I see myself. I truly believe that you will be surprised by how much these little challenges will change you.