7 ways to win in a no-spend challenge

If you’re trying to save up for something fun or want to pay off debt or are just looking to get a rainy-day fund going, you have two basic options. You can either increase your earnings or reduce your spending.

Over the last two years, Hustle has shared numerous ways you can do the former; and with the latter, you could do any number of things, from moving to a cheaper house to selling off assets or packing your lunch.

But what if you want something with a bit more immediate results? Then you may want to consider a no-spend challenge.

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Like is says on the label, this is a challenge where you commit to avoid spending money on a certain product for a limited time.

There’s a long list of products to choose from, including clothes, beauty treatments, beverages outside of water, books, electronics and eating out.

A no-spend challenge is easy to start and a great way to hit some money goals quickly. And it’s temporary, so the suffering lasts a short time.

So how do you improve your odds of success? Here are seven ways to go about it.

1. Have a clear goal in mind

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It sounds obvious, yes, but it’s important to remind yourself that a no-spend challenge doesn’t mean that you put off buying, say, a cup of coffee, only to splurge on the beverage afterwards. Don’t start an ‘I’ll buy this later’ list, or you’ll undo all your good work.

Before you start the challenge, be sure about what you want the money you save to accomplish. You can use visual cues – such as hanging up photos of the product or item you’re after on your mirror or in your wallet – to stay motivated.

2. Leave your money at home

During your no-spend challenge, don’t carry around any more money than you need. If you’re walking into a store to buy the basics and have committed to avoiding junk, make sure you don’t have even a tiny bit extra that could undo your grand plans.

3. Note down the accumulation of your not-spent money

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If you decide to cut back on your spending, you’ll need regular feedback on how well you’re doing so you can stay on track.

If you let the cash you don’t spend simply accumulate in your account, it’s likely to ‘disappear’, and you won’t be able to track where it went. Instead, every time you save, put that money either in a new account or a mobile savings wallet, and watch it add up.

4. Give yourself a chance to succeed

If you’re going to go on a no-buying-clothes challenge, for instance, yet you have a wedding to attend and had planned on buying an outfit for it, get that out of the way before starting the challenge.

You need to make sure you’re prepared before you make a certain product off-limits. However, don’t go overboard in your spending in the name of being prepared.

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5. Be creative

You can start a no-spend challenge by deciding to avoid going to supermarkets, for instance, and creating meals off of the ingredients you have in your shelves. Alternatively, you can plan your meals ahead of time so you’re not buying things outside the budget.

The point is to stretch whatever you have as far as you can so you don’t step into a supermarket before your challenge is up.

And if you’ve decided to cut back on spending on your hobbies, find free activities to do. You can plan picnics, spend time in a library, visit galleries or take walks in a park.

Utilise Facebook and WhatsApp groups and ask your friends and neighbours for ideas. Rope in the kids by planning fun home activities, like science experiments, art projects or treasure hunts.

6. Unsubscribe from sale alerts

If you get texts or emails from your favourite stores when they’re running sales or have brought in new stock, before you start a no-spend challenge, be sure to unsubscribe from them. Don’t put yourself in temptation’s way.  

7. Have an accountability partner

Don’t keep your no-spend challenge to yourself. Let someone in on your plans and how you intend to achieve your goals to improve the likelihood of success.

You can even start a Facebook page if you want to recruit more people – and who knows what kind of community you could end up creating.

Also, let close family and friends know why you won’t be agreeing to outings where you have to spend money so they don’t tempt you and instead offer moral support.

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