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Sunday, June 1, 2014

The no-spending challenge

Once a while, when I see that I spend too much, I will challenge myself to a zero dollar week.  My challenge is to not spend any money (unless absolutely necessary – like paying for a photocopy) during 7 days (or course feel free to make the challenge longer).
This means no shopping, eating from the cupboard and the fridge, no going out, etc.  I cut down my spending to only essentials for one week. But if I’m doing the challenge for only one week, am I not going to simply delay my spending by a few days and not change anything overall in my annual spending? Actually, no.
This challenge makes me realize that I can live quite well without spending money.  I may have to be a little more creative at finding gifts, going out, eating, and designing outfits from my own closet.  It forces me to enjoy other things than purchasing new items.  This helps me have a mindset of not spending.  If I repeat the challenge every so often, my mindset is geared more and more towards not spending.  After doing the same challenge 4-6 times, I end up not enjoying spending money that much (really; I’ve done it!).
A ban of spending, even temporary, makes me appreciate how much I already have.  I do have food in the pantry and clothes in my closet.  I have activities that I enjoy that do not involve me spending money.  This, again, resets my thoughts towards not spending money.
It is possible that I may need to delay purchases during my no spending challenge week.  A few things can happen with this: 1. I simply purchase the item after my challenge is over; 2. I realize that I don’t need the item and change my mind about purchasing it; or 3, I go back to spending in my original way, but not having a ‘catch up ‘ period for my lack of restaurant meals for a week (i.e., I can go back to restaurant meals twice a week, but I won’t have 4 restaurant meals the week after my challenge to make up for the challenge week).  In two out of three of these options, I end up saving money overall (options 2 and 3). 
You also do not have to do the challenge perfectly: if you are planning on going to the movies on Saturday, you can plan on not spending until Saturday morning.  If not spending for 7 days seem too easy, try 10 or 12 days.  You can also alter the challenge so that it excludes food from the grocery store – especially if you are ‘due’ for grocery shopping.  If you are buying a gourmet coffee and your lunch out every day, a day without spending may be the best way for you to start.
The no-spending week challenge is an effective way to change your view on spending money.

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