I am not really one for New Years resolutions. They seem like a set up for failure. However, I have been seeing lots of round up videos on YouTube, with vloggers talking about how their No Spend Challenges went in 2019 and I have been drawn to the idea of trying it myself.
My monthly income is more than my monthly expenses but, since I went part time at work (more on this in another post), I have found I am not saving as much of the surplus as I would like. I’ve found, especially in the run up to Christmas, that I have been spending without thinking. I just order things on Amazon, or chuck items in my basket on the way around shops, with very little consideration as to how much I need them or if they are good value. I’m still saving, but the waste is creeping up and I am a little ashamed of myself for frittering away so much cash lately.
So, a bit of a financial reset seems like a good idea. By committing to cut out non essential spending, I am hoping to increase my savings rate and also really focus on what is necessary and what I can so without. The nice thing about the No Spend Challenge is that it is personal, and the criteria for ‘essential’ can be tailored to your own circumstances. To that end, here are my own set of rules:
- This is a personal challenge, not a family one, so the boys will not be giving anything up and I will ensure things like music lessons and Scout dues are not cut.
- My Audible subscription will stay, as I am on an offer at the moment and have committed to a certain period of time in order to get a cheaper monthly subscription fee. When this runs out, I will cancel and see how much I miss the service, but I will let it run the original term I signed up to.
- No new clothes/shoes/cosmetics. Clothes or shoes that wear out will be replaced only if they are staple items (underwear/trainers/socks). Cosmetics items will only be replaced if I have no other versions. So, if my favourite lipstick runs out, I wont repurchase as I have plenty of other colours I can learn to love. I only have one mascara on the go at a time, though, so if that runs out I can buy another.
- No new fitness equipment. I need to lose weight, I know I do. But I have a very bad habit of convincing myself that if I only had this, or that, I would be able to lift like Dana Lynn Bailey. There is not such piece of magic equipment. I will never lift like DLB and I will save a lot of money if I just accept that and eat less cake.
- No take aways. Not only is it healthier for me to cook at home, it is massively cheaper. I can spend half a weeks grocery budget on a single Chinese take away and, whilst it may be tasty, it certainly isn’t essential.
- No books. This one is where I will struggle the most. I read a lot. I will always have several books on the go at the same time and I get through a considerable amount of them each year. My birthday and Christmas wish lists always mean that family buys me lots of books, and I am planning to make more use of the local library in order to try and plug the gap, but I may have to spend some time looking into any free ebooks I can scrounge up to provide enough reading material to keep me going. If anyone knows where I can find a good supply of free reading material, other than the library, please comment below – any ideas much appreciated!!
That’s it, really. I have identified, through my bank statements, that books, clothes, cosmetics, take aways and random exercise equipment/clothing are the areas where I am most likely to spend without thinking and to excess, so those are the areas I am specifically targeting in order to make savings. Everything else will get scooped up in the ‘No Spend’ net, because I don’t get tempted by many other things, but these area will be a challenge and I am hoping that the savings help motivate me to keep a tighter reign on them even once I finish the challenge. My goal is 1 month, initially. I’d like to go for a whole year but I think that is a daunting prospect in one chunk, so I am going for a month and, at the end of the month, I will go for the next month, and then the next. Doing it in increments will hopefully make it seem more manageable and, if I struggle, I think it will be easier to stick to if I am thinking I am only having to go without for a month rather than a whole year!
I will update my progress as I go along and I’d love to hear about any challenges you’re undertaking this year!!