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How to win at the #nospend challenge

Finance & Money

Posted on Monday, February 3, 2020

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One of the smartest ways to beat post-December debt is to try the ‘no-spend challenge’. It’s a great idea to make a New Year’s resolution to exercise more or eat more mindfully. But quitting unnecessary shopping, and living a cheaper lifestyle, for 30 days is the way to boost your financial health.


By holding on to your cash for a set period, you’re able to see how your spending habits were holding back your attempts to save or build wealth. For example, can’t resist a January sale? By skipping the post-Christmas shopping frenzy, you may realise that items you would have previously bought simply because they were cheap don’t add any value to your life. Don’t worry, you’ll live through it.


Committing to a no-spend period – whether it’s a week or a month – will highlight how you adapt and find other ways to meet your needs without spending.


How it works


With any challenge, you need to set a goal. If you were working on a health challenge, your goal could be building up to a 5km run. For a no-spend challenge, it could be saving money to pay off your credit card or retail accounts.


Kick off by establishing your bare-minimum budget. How much do you need to live on for the month? You can’t avoid buying petrol, but you could join a lift-share scheme, or walk to the shops instead of driving. Tiny tweaks to cheaper alternatives add up to big savings. So, what other strategies can you use to win at this challenge?


  • Finish all the leftovers in your fridge, or use up all the tins in your pantry before you head to the grocery store. Make a smoothie out of sad-looking fruit. Turn last night’s rice into a delicious fried-rice dish. Take turns in the family to see who can whip up the most interesting no-spend meal.
  • If you don’t trust your impulsiveness, do all of your grocery shopping online, so you stick to the basics. You’ll also be able to spot the cheaper products available. 
  • Instead of meeting your friends for after-work drinks or at your favourite restaurant, go for a walk with them. Let them in on your challenge so they can support your efforts.
  • If an item in your home breaks, don’t replace it for at least a month. If you don’t miss it, you don’t need it.
  • Gifting friends and family is one of the joys of life. But do you really need to buy them something? Would a beautifully written card or handmade gift be more memorable? Get crafty with what you can find at home.
  • Take a social media holiday. Spending time on social media means you’ll spend more money on data.
  • Don’t trust yourself not to use your credit card? Ask a friend or family member to keep it in a safe place for you for the month. 


Make it a healthy habit


Cracked the challenge? Now that you’ve highlighted wasteful spending habits, let them go for good. Also, keep yourself in check by implementing a no-spend weekend every month.


Or, make your workdays a no-spend zone. Prep your lunch, and don’t splurge on cooldrinks or coffee. Let’s do the maths: a R15 coffee for 20 days a month costs R300. Ditch this from your daily routine and you’re already well on your way to saving. 


The information contained in this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.


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