No Spend Challenges
I’ve been reading about people who have a no spend year recently and I joined a group on Facebook about the no spend year challenge. I’ve been in the group a couple of years now silently lurking in the background.
I’d never joined in with these extreme challenges. I say extreme because over the last couple of years I’ve read comments from people in these groups who take the challenge too literally and feel “guilty” for buying food or ask random people in the group for vetinarary advice because they don’t want to break their no spend challenge by going to the vet.
They fall out with partners and spouses because one doesn’t want to live that way and they argue with each other in the group about who is taking it more seriously and who is not. That’s where it falls down for me. When it gets taken too seriously and it starts to affect your basic necessities, what you eat, your health, your family’s health, your peace of mind and happiness.
There then comes the beating themselves up posts when they have “fallen off the waggon” because they have given in and bought groceries or bought something they needed. For me a no spend challenge is to try and stop buying things I don’t need and not stop buying things I do need.
There is a big difference between being frugal and being cheap and the No Spend Year Challenge can sometimes make a person seem miserly rather than frugal. Rather than deciding you are not going to spend again for the next year which is setting yourself up for a fall. It is better to take things one day at a time, or one week at at time and ask yourself do I really need this? Leave it a week and chances are if you don’t then you’ll have forgotten about wanting it.
Some Ideas To Cut Down on Spending
If it’s food, don’t deprive yourself. If you want to save money in this area then make a meal plan for the week and stick to it. Buy the ingredients and enjoy it.
Freeze leftovers, don’t waste them, blanche and freeze veggies in fridge, don’t let them go off and have to be thrown away. See my previous blog here about how to do that.
Invest in a slow cooker or electric pressure cooker so you can batch cook meals. They are more energy efficient and can pay for themselves with the money saved by not having the cooker and oven on everyday.
If it’s takeaways and eating out then learn how to recreate your favourite dishes at home. Our guilty pleasure is Indian takeaway and so I learnt how to cook British Indian Restaurant style curries from a guy who calls himself The Curry Guy by following his YouTube videos and blog. There are lots of groups on Facebook about how to recreate your favourite takeaways at home.
If it’s clothes then ask yourself if you need the item. Go through your wardrobes and see what you already have and spend a day putting outfits together from what you already have.
If it’s the garden then rather than spending lots of money in the garden centre, take cuttings from plants you already have, swap with cuttings from a friend or neighbour’s garden. Grow from seeds, collect seeds from the flowers or veg you already grow. There are so many free YouTube video tutorials on how to do all of this.
If it’s books and Audio books then try BorrowBox. You only need a local library subscription and you can have hundreds of thousands of books and audio books at your fingertips that you can rent for free as you would at your local library.
Cutting down and making more conscious decisions about a purchase is a much better way to save money in the long term than completely depriving yourself. Saving money and being more frugal is a lifestyle choice and should be treated as marathon and not a sprint. Start small and build up towards becoming more frugal and a more conscious consumer. A frugal lifestyle is not a lifestyle that comes from the perception of lacking. It’s about making the most of what you have got rather than dwelling on what you don’t have. It’s about not living beyond your means and reprogramming yourself into being more savvy with your money but never becoming miserly or selfish.
See you soon