No Spend Challenge

You read that right.

No spending from January 1 until my birthday in May. That’s 4.5 months.

Oof.

See ya later debt

This concept both excites and terrifies me.

I’m hugely committed to getting my debt paid off in 2014 and getting back on track financially, so I want to do everything in my power to make sure I’m successful.

While I did spent quite a bit of money in 2013, it was also a very challenging year for me and I feel like maybe that’s what I needed to do in order to get through it. However, I’m certainly not going to let a rough year hold me back from being completely financially okay, and so I wanted to challenge myself to be as great as I can be with money.

There’s something about the Christmas/holiday/whatever season that bleeds me dry. It’s not really the buying of the presents (I didn’t have many to buy for this year) but hosting people, buying decorations, spending more on food, visiting with people, etc etc that all just adds up. Before December my grocery bill was tight and then December rolled around and, well, it wasn’t so tight anymore.

I know January is historically a month with little spending, and I thought I would attempt to carry that forward up to my birthday. Why my birthday? Because I’ll probably want to buy myself a birthday present 🙂

What are the guidelines (I’m using guidelines here because rules just sounds restrictive):

  1. No wants. None. Anything purchased must be able to be justified and “it was pretty” although valid, isn’t good enough this time.
  2. Replacement items. For example, if I run out of mascara, I can buy a replacement mascara, but I can’t buy six replacement mascaras because Sephora had a neat little kit of them.
  3. Running shoes. I’m pretty sure I’m going to need between 1 and 3 (yes, I realize this is random) new shoes between now and my ultra. Staying uninjured is pretty important to me so I’ll purchase shoes as I need them, and they’re probably going to be the expensive Newton’s, but I’ll look for sales where I can.
  4. Food is okay. Obviously. No one wants me to die. But the food I purchase should be as part of my meal plan (yup, those are coming back!) and can’t be overly expensive (sorry fancy cheese).
  5. Eating out within reason. I’m going to allow myself one meal out per week. So if I buy my lunch for $4 one day, this will still count as one meal out.
  6. No Starbucks. Sorry Starbucks. I love you. You know I do, but sometimes you just get too dang expensive. After January I may permit myself one drink per month, but I’ll need to go cold turkey in January first to be sure.
  7. Makeup and clothes are off-limits. The only exception to this is the replacement rule. So if I get a hole in the crotch of my jeans, I’ll probably replace them, but that’s it. I have a ton of running clothes, so there’s no way I’ll need to buy any more between now and May (even though I may want to).
  8. Bye bye cable. I’m going to allow myself to keep cable until the Olympics are over, but after that? Bye bye. This will save me nearly $80/month and since I can stream most of my shows the day after online, I just don’t much see the point of paying for cable. Heck, even if I want to watch sports, I can head to a bar, or pay $2.99 for a hockey game online, if I really want to see it. I’m betting I won’t miss it as much as I think I will.
  9. Get a library card. This is something I haven’t done just because I’m lazy. I can rent books with my Kobo through my library for free, so it seems silly to keep buying books (but I do) but, since I can’t spend, a library card must be obtained. (Now to figure out where the closest library is so I can get a card!).
  10. Movies are okay? I haven’t yet decided how I feel about going to movies. I love going to movies, but at $13/ticket it can get pretty pricey (it’s $20 in IMAX) so maybe once a month? I’m not sure yet. I’m just thankful for Netflix.

I know the first month or so will be the hardest, but I’m pretty confident I can stick with this.

Bye bye debt!

Tell me: What’s the most radical thing you’ve done to pay off debt?

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January Recap

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17 thoughts on “No Spend Challenge

  1. That is really exciting! You’re brave, I really should do something like this but I know I’d cave in 2 seconds. That said, I am trying to be smarter about my money this month. As you said, “it’s pretty” isn’t a good reason!

    Good luck!! Will you be updating us each month on your progress?

    • I definitely plan on tracking my “non necessary” spending and updating monthly!

      After my debt is paid off, I’ll probably reveal how much I paid off and how long it took as well, but I’m not comfortable revealing that at this point.

    • I’m really hoping I can stick with it! I’m pretty sure my desire to be debtfree outweighs my desire to spend, so hopefully that will keep me on track!

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  5. We have been on the save train too. Trying to build a garage this year will be expensive. Warren and I go to the library weekly (ours has a ton of movies i can request). Another trick for books is to borrow from friends. I just finished book five for the Game of thrones series (I bought it only because no one had it) and I borrowed the first four. Hockey games can also be enjoyed at friends houses who have cable.

    • I wish it were possible to lend books to friends on the Kobo like it is on the Kindle! Most people I know (and myself!) all have eReaders now, and the Kobo doesn’t let you lend between accounts, which is too bad!

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