How to do a No Spend Challenge
Let’s just say I choked this month on the whole ‘no spend challenge‘. I definitely spent money when I didn’t need to throughout September. To read the original post about my 6 months no spend challenge click here, update two is here with 5 tips on dealing with temptation, update three covered 10 tips to stop spending and here is the latest update.
How to Get Back on Track
I list below the ways in which I failed my challenge of no spending for 6 months below. Firstly, I want to address how to get back on track.
Once you get into the habit of buying takeaway or splurging here and there it can be difficult to get back to living a frugal lifestyle, spending wisely and doing what you need to do to ensure you have savings in the bank, but are still enjoying life.
If you blow out, don’t punish yourself or get upset. Acknowledge it, look at why it happened, how you could prevent that in the future then put into place whatever you need to ensure it doesn’t happen in the future.
We go over our spending, see exactly how much money bad habits are costing us and those amounts in black and white are usually enough to motivate us to stop spending.
If it’s not, have you set a goal? What are you saving for? Trying to save without a definite end goal is a lot harder than saving for a house. For example, if you are giving up takeaway now so you can own your own home, it is easier to say to yourself “I would rather own my own home next year than have takeaway right now.”
If you have nothing you are saving for, it is hard to change your thought process.
So, how badly did I mess up this month?
1. I Bought Clothes
Specifically, I bought one dress. It is my perfect dress that I have wanted for years, yet have never seen it. The right cut, colour, fit, everything. When I saw it, I desperately wanted it. I knew I was doing this no spend challenge, I could have chosen to not buy it. I won’t make excuses for myself. There are 2 dresses in my entire life I have felt this way about.
The other two I didn’t buy and I still look for them on eBay in case someone is selling one. They were perfect and I should have bought them when I had the chance. One was a little black dress, the other a navy dress and this one is a red dress. Each a slightly different style, but they would form the basis of my wardrobe.
The dress was $269, I am a VIP club member and they recently changed their points structure, the price came down. The bulk of my clothes are from eBay, second-hand stores or purchased on massive sales. To pay ‘full price’ like this is not something I have done for a while nor want to do. Consumerism won here.
2. Takeaway Food
Shame, shame, shame. I bought take away food a few times. I should say ‘there is no excuse!” but I am going to give you mine anyway…
– Our fridge broke down early September, which has been an ongoing drama. We rent a furnished apartment so the fridge is the landlords responsibility. We still haven’t got it back. We have a replacement, but went days without a fridge and this one is nowhere near the quality or size of what we had.
– I got sick, really sick, as in passed out on the bathroom floor, crippled in pain, sent off for a bunch of tests sick, which lasted for days. Last month, I wasn’t the one who was sick, but medical expenses did go up. This month, it was horrible for me.
– Work was insane. I took on two more large projects, as did my partner. In the past month we have probably spent more time apart than together at home with each of us travelling, speaking at events etc. It’s been hectic.
3. Visits From Friends
My eldest daughter had her best friend come visit from interstate. I had paid for the tickets to see Matilda earlier in the year. What I didn’t plan for was the rest of the sightseeing which cost $120. This will be the last time for probably 6 or 12 months they see each other and it was a special combined trip. I could have done only free sightseeing, however, I am not going to dictate how someone should spend the few days they have in my city.
It wasn’t all bad! As you can see, work was hectic, but that meant increased income and opportunities for us both.
1. We did a Budget Review
We do this regularly but with the income increase, time constraints and need to outsource more, we needed to review everything. Our finances are separate, we pay half for everything, although because he isn’t the biological father of my kids, I had not asked him for half of childcare expenses, ever. I felt like expenses relating to the kids were mine, even though we refer to them as ‘our’ daughters.
Our money situation has always been fairly fluid/flexible, in that the ‘half each’ isn’t always adhered to, but it all works out in the end. I struggled with asking for a contribution to child related expenses, though.
With the budget review, he is paying half of childcare related expenses, we reviewed our private health insurance and dropped it by $90 per fortnight or $2,340 per year which will go into a savings account for medical emergencies. We still have some cover, just dropped what we didn’t need.
We weighed up our childcare options – after school care or a nanny/housekeeper. Our daughters have been in after school care, however, when we combined the expense of it with a cleaner, it turns out a housekeeper was the cheaper solution.
She will pick our daughters up from school three days a week, bring them home, clean, assist with homework, get dinner ready etc. Basically, do what I have done in the afternoons. My daughters are expected to help clean too. After school care and a cleaner was $100 dearer a week.
Savings: $290 a fortnight, although $90 of that is going into a medical account.
2. Birthday Party Fun
We had my daughters 9th birthday party and she loved it. It was simple, within budget and her friends had a great time. A home party is more work than going to a play centre but the kids got to do a bunch of stuff, eat cake, play games and enjoyed themselves, plus it was all rainbow themed like she wanted.
I had two trips to Canberra, my partner had two trips to Sydney, we had a ‘staycation’ and managed to stay under budget for everything we had to do. The trips away were business expenses but previously we would let that blow out of control and be an excuse to eat more takeaway and spend in general. Not this time!
4. Making More Money
I mentioned in my last update I would be doing what I could to increase my income and sharing what I do. Recently, I started working with two new clients. I’ll share more details on how to get into this kind of work, rates to expect etc soon.
With a little under 3 months to go on this challenge, some medical treatment coming up, another unplanned trip (this time personal, not business), Christmas, my partners birthday and a few other things, the last half of this no spend challenge will be interesting, to say the least!
The main focus will be reducing expenses, streamlining our life to get more time and increasing income without increasing time spent working.
Have you done a no spend challenge? How did you go?