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TikTok and Instagram often talk about “no spend challenges”. It is exactly what the name suggests and means that users set themselves the challenge of only buying “essentials” for a set period. Some people do a day a week, others try and do a whole year. The results are often impressive, with people saying it helps them with things from organisation to saving money.
With this in mind, the team at Online Money Advisor have outlined five reasons why ‘no-spend’ challenges are beneficial in both the short and long-term.
“Starting with the most obvious, if you participate in a ‘no-spend’ challenge, you won’t spend as much money. Beyond this, participating in a ‘no spend’ challenge might also prompt a change in your long-term behaviour and overall approach to spending money. You might start to realise that certain items or spending habits that you previously considered essential are of much less value and more materialistic than you originally thought.”
“Sometimes, it takes a blocked nose to help you fully appreciate being able to breathe freely through your nostrils. Similarly, participating in a no spend challenge can make you feel more grateful, reflective and thoughtful about spending money. With a new perspective, you might be inclined to reconsider your budgeting and saving habits.”
“Retail therapy isn’t the most sustainable form of self-care. Participating in a ‘no-spend’ challenge is a detox for any impulse spending. If you’re trying to kickstart a new savings pot or prioritise debt repayment like mortgage or student loan payments, squashing your bad online shopping habits is a must.”
“How many times have you gone out for dinner with family or friends and just ended up sitting on your phone at the table? Doing free activities with family and friends, perhaps walking through a park or hosting a game night, is a great way to meaningfully reconnect with your family and friends while having fun and not dipping into your wallet.”
“Going without spending for a weekend, a week or even a month, takes planning. You won’t be able to just drop everything one day and stop spending any money without any preparation beforehand. Also, by cutting out tasks like getting your hair done, going clothes shopping or grabbing a coffee, you’ll have more free time to organise your day to then complete more important tasks.”
Our monthly blogger Shoestring Jane has done a no spend month in the past. She says on her blog Shoestring Cottage that “It can be boring. If you want to go to the cinema, you can’t. The pub? Not on a no spend month. You fancy some new clothes – this is a no-no. However, you can still watch stuff on YouTube or TV, you can catch up on all those books you have bought and never read. You can take more exercise for free. This post has plenty of ideas. You can have a wardrobe declutter and discover things to wear that you had forgotten you had.”
The reality is that times are hard. A huge chunk of our paycheques go on essentials and often those monthly treats are what keep us going. If holidays are out of the question (as they are for many), a little trip to our favourite shop can really boost our mental health. So we don’t expect people to go into this at the deep end. However, if we can afford to put some money aside, and we psychologically approach this challenge as a way of saving for something we really really want, then the results really can make it worthwhile.
While we think this is a fantastic way to get into saving money, our content editor Vicky Parry wants people to be aware that this isn’t available to everyone. “For some people, their paycheque is barely covering essentials, so we want people to be aware that people also need help. While encouraging our loved ones to save, please be aware that we can also help others and use these savings to help people who need it more than us. Please keep checking in with your loved ones in these trying times.” MoneyMagpie offer a guide of what to do if you simply can’t pay your bills here.