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Many of you have been following my No Spend Month Challenge. I have done three no spend months and plan for many more in the future! They are great for the budget and awesome for a financial detox! No spend months have helped me learn a ton about my friendships and my spending habits!
If you have been participating in a no spend month, you may already be planning your first purchase as the month is coming to an end. I don’t want you to think of the end of a no spend month as permission to go crazy. When you give yourself permission to spend, I hope that you remain intentional about your spending.
During my last no spend month, I was able to put $2,450 towards my student loans because I simply avoided purchasing anything. I only spend $84 on groceries for the month and $104 on fuel for my vehicle. Throughout the month, I did spend about $70 on eating out. That is far less than I normally spend. I didn’t spend any money on clothing, home decor, or entertainment.
A no spend month requires a lot of discipline, will power, and motivation. It sets you up for a great detox of your budget and allows you to take a step back and see where else you could cut spending in your budget. After putting that much focus on not spending, it can be hard to transition into intentional spending again. It can be hard not to completely blow your whole month’s budget in the first few days of the month because you may feed deprived after a no spend month.
Here are 5 things to help you avoid derailing your progress that you made during your no spend month.
1) Plan for one reward. Do it.
When I talked about preparing for your no spend month, I suggested that you create a reward for the end of the month. It should be something that you can look forward to during the month. Maybe it is a small home purchase or a dinner out, but I suggested setting a budget for whatever your reward is. When I started my most recent no spend month, I gave myself $60 for home decor items that I have been looking at or a new desk and $40 for a nice dinner out with friends during February. I have since decided that I don’t need the home decor until I finish cleaning up what I do have, but still plan on doing dinner with a good friend. I also decided that I didn’t need a desk.
When you plan your reward, make sure it is something a little out of the norm. Make your reward something fun. Don’t plan for a dinner out and then get fast food on your way home from work. Treat yourself to getting dressed up and actually going out. Make it last a little bit longer and make it a little bit of a big deal. This will help make it special and actually feel like a reward. Also, don’t plan for a reward and then talk yourself out of it because you don’t want to spend the money. Relish in your progress and reward yourself for your hard work.
2) Continue tracking your no spend days.
In the month after a no spend challenge, I recommend tracking your no spend days again. Even if your goal isn’t to not spend money throughout the whole month, set a goal for 10 or 15 no spend days** during the next month. This will help you from spending money on pointless things because you couldn’t for a month. When you track your days, you are more intentional about your spending. Even if you aren’t shooting for 100%, some is better than none. I am sure that by tracking a few of your days, you will find that you don’t spend money on the stupid little things as often.
**No spend days are totally up to you to decide how you define them. I count them as no unplanned/ unbudgeted spending (or eating out). Some people add groceries in there. This is completely up to you!
3) Set your budget for next month!
It is so important to have your budget ready before the month starts! I start working on my budget for the next month around the 15th and then start to finalize it around the 25th. Starting early and making a plan helps make sure that I am not caught by as many surprises. I try to list anything that I might need to budget for, but I leave a little wiggle room for things that come up!
Setting your budget early is one of the best ways to combat extra spending. I recommend sticking with your no spend budget and adding a little extra in there. Make your best attempt to not give yourself too much extra cash in any category and remember that you don’t have to spend all of the money from every category you budgeted for. Creating a goal for the next month can also help. Don’t set your goal as high as you did for the challenge, but make sure that it will stretch your discipline.
4) Plan a few “fun” no spend entertainment nights
Keeping fun no spend activities in your plans will help you feel like you are still having fun without the extra spending. Check out my list of 37 Things to Do Instead of Spending Money. Planning ahead to do fun things throughout the next month will help continue your progress instead of derailing everything you have already done.
Having a few set things on the schedule can help slow the excitement of spending money again. Plan for 2-3 no spend activities for every spending activity that you put on your calendar. The more you can do without spending money, the less you might feel like you are missing out.
5) Remember your goals and the progress made
Keeping your goals in mind (and in sight) will help you from splurging every chance you get after a no spend month. Write down your goals and stick them to the fridge so they are always in sight. Having your goals posted all over will increase the likelihood of you eating what is in your fridge and not going out to eat.
Find a way to get a little creative with the food left in your pantry. Make plans with friends to come over instead. Keep doing a few of the things you have been doing to maintain the low spending budget to reach your debt pay off and savings goals. Remember how much you have been able to accomplish in one month. You don’t have to be as strict about your spending in the next month, but don’t forget how much progress you have made.
I hope that you reached your goals or even pushed yourself to do something different than you had before. My hopes for the challenge is that everyone learns something new about their spending!
If you missed out on this No Spend Challenge, sign up for my e-mail list and check out the next challenge starting in April! I am stoked to see what April brings for everyone and this no spend month! E-mails will start going out in March for the next No Spend! Are you going to be up for the challenge?