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You might be wondering what a no spend challenge means. It’s pretty much what you think. You cannot spend money except on essential survival items, like housing, food, medicine or transportation.
Money spent on food should only be for cooking at home and should not include fancy foods like lobster. Unfortunately, you will have to give up dining out, delivery and pick up for the time being.
Transportation costs should be limited to traveling to and from work or visiting relatives/friends. This means taking your car for a lazy sightseeing Sunday afternoon is not allowed.
So how long is a no spend challenge? That depends on you. It could be a weekend, a week or a month.
Now let’s be honest. You will always find an excuse to delay a no spend challenge. You can’t start this weekend because the latest Star Wars movie is coming out, or because it’s your friend’s birthday and you all going out to dinner to celebrate.
At the end of the day these are all just excuses to never start. Try to find a chunk of time without much going on and tell your family and friends your plan. This will put the onus on you to follow through.
How To Survive A No Spend Challenge
A no spend challenge doesn’t mean you need to be trapped at home all alone bored out of your mind. However, it does present a couple great opportunities to spend:
- good quality time with family and friends
- time to address the list of household to-do’s that you’ve been putting off
A good mix of these activities will leave you feeling refreshed and energized at the end of your no spend challenge. I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me feel more accomplished than looking around my house and seeing the improvements I made firsthand, even if it’s just from cleaning a room.
Catch Up With Family and Friends During A No Spend Challenge
#1 Visit Family
Depending on your proximity to family members outside of your home this may or may not be easy to do. Most of my family lives within driving distance for a day visit. If yours do too, you could plan a visit to see them during this challenge.
In the busy society we live in it’s all too easy to get caught up in your own life and not spend enough time with your loved ones. Take this opportunity to slow down and learn more about family members.
Ask them questions you’ve always wondered about but never got around to asking. Taking a trip down memory lane can be fun for you and them. You can make this a wonderful time to bond as a family.
#2 Visit Friends
Arrange a potluck dinner with a close group of friends during your no spend challenge. Hosting can get expensive, but not if you make it clear up front that everyone is responsible for bringing a dish to share and their choice of beverage. If everyone covers their own expenses, all you have to do is enjoy their company and clean up after they leave.
Related Article: What is a Staycation + 31 Best Staycation Ideas
Surviving A No Spend Challenge With Kids
If you have kids, then you know they have a lot of energy they need to burn. Kids, also, tend to get bored easily. Letting kids binge watch their favorite show on Netflix will work for a bit but that’s only a temporary fix.
Keeping a kid’s brain and body active is key to their sanity and most importantly, your sanity. Reading books and taking walks are great ways to keep your kids busy.
However, those are just the tip of the iceberg. The possibilities for preventing your kids from being bored are endless.
#3-27 Indoor activities for kids
Check out these 25 great indoor kid activities for inspiration during your no spend challenge. There’s even a free printable with pre-populated clues for a treasure hunt you can host in your house. Your kids will never complain about being bored again.
#28 Take the kids to the playground
If the weather is nice, it’s always good to get the kids out and about for a bit. You can take the younger kids to a playground in the area. They can burn some energy running around and climbing the monkey bars.
#29 Visit your local forest preserve
If you’re kids are bigger, then take them for a hike or bike ride through the local forest preserve. This gets you out of the house and doesn’t cost a dime. You could even pack a picnic for a lunch and a frisbee to throw around.
Fun Things For Adults To Do Indoors During A No Spend Challenge
Use this time to slow down and enjoy the little moments in life. Even if your days don’t fly by in a flash, you’re likely stuck in a routine.
Go back to basics and make food from scratch. There is nothing better than homemade food. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Fresh baked bread
- Pizza (including the dough)
- Ice cream
Along the lines of food, consider cooking a dish you enjoy but never take the time to make. Turn on some music, open a bottle of wine and prepare an amazing dish.
#31 Spend time on a hobby
Do you have a hobby? You should. We should all have a hobby that brings us joy. This is a great time to either find a hobby, indulge in your hobby or fine tune your hobby skills.
YouTube is your best friend for ideas to expand on any hobby. There are endless videos you can watch to learn more about your chosen hobby. Regardless of the stage you are at with a hobby, there is always something new to learn.
Free Outdoor Activities For Adults To Do During A No Spend Challenge
When the weather permits, spending time outdoors can be a great way to spend your time during a no spend challenge. The sun and fresh air help rejuvenate and energize you.
Gardening, at its core, is therapeutic. Helping plants grow big and watching flower buds spring open, reminds us how beautiful life can be. So, embrace your green thumb and start taking care of those flowerpots and/or yard of yours.
#33 Bean Bag Toss
A good old fashion game of cornhole, or more commonly known as a bean bag toss, gets you up and moving. With a bit of creativity, you can easily make a homemade version of this game.
Find some empty buckets or even kitchen bowls for the target. Then, grab a bunched up pair of socks to use as the item to toss. Alternatively, you could add rice or corn kernels to the inside of the sock and toss that.
Plan For The Future During A No Spend Challenge
Clearly, the idea of a no spend challenge is to save some money. So, why not take some time during this challenge to setup your life in a manner that saving money is easier and more natural.
Do you currently have a budget? While budgets don’t work for everyone, tracking your expenses for a few months can give you insight on where you could adjust your spending. You may be very surprised by how much carry out or Uber rides cost you in a month.
When you are forced to account for every dollar you spend, you may also find some expenses you pay for that you forgot all about. Use this time to cancel credit cards you don’t use with recurring fees or subscriptions that are no longer valuable to you.
#35 Retirement Savings
Regardless of your age or where you are in life, you should be preparing for the day when you can retire. Hopefully, you have been stashing money away for the big day, but have you considered how much money you will need?
$1 million seems to be thrown out a lot as the base for what the average person needs. Do not fall victim to that arbitrary number. Your neighbor’s retirement needs and goals will be different than yours. So will your co-workers needs and goals be different than yours in retirement.
It is never too early to start figuring out how much you will need in retirement. You can use this retirement expense planning worksheet to get started. It serves a dual purpose.
- The worksheet is a comprehensive expense tracking tool. You can start using it today to figure out where your money is going. It accounts for all major expenses you may incur monthly.
- This tool then helps you convert your current expenses into what your retirement expenses will look like. It includes prompts for you to consider on how your expenses may change over time. Additionally, there is an inflation calculation that converts what your expected future expenses are in today’s dollar into the dollar of the future.
The sooner you start planning for retirement the more money you will likely save. This will either give you more money to play with when you retire or allow you to retire earlier. The reasons to start planning and saving for retirement should be obvious, so start now.
#36 Take the Investment Challenge
Knowing how to invest your hard earned money is overwhelming at first glance. As with anything though, a bit of upfront work and education can help you break down the complexities.
Take the investment challenge for beginners to start understanding the basics behind investing. During the challenge you will learn how your current investments rank against the other investment options available in your portfolio.
You will learn how to understand the true profitability of a fund. The growth of a fund is just as important as the fees associated with it. By the end of the challenge, you will be able to tell where your current investment funds rank against other fund options available in your portfolio.
#37 Meal Planning
Food is the 3rd largest household expense in the U.S. There may seem to be a variety of reasons for this. However, the most notable reason for high food costs is lack of planning. A bit of thoughtful planning can cut household food costs in half.
Unfortunately, most people are so busy running from one thing to the next, that we don’t even think about how this is affecting our budget. The good news is with a bit of planning and upfront work this can be changed.
First, you must master grocery shopping. Learn the tips and tricks that will save you money buying from the local grocery stores in your area. This may take a little while but over time it will become second nature.
Next, plan ahead and determine what you will be making for dinner every night in the coming week. Plan around activities you have scheduled after work.
If you know you can’t cook one night, double up a recipe earlier in the week and save those for leftovers. Heck, always make enough for leftovers and take the leftovers to work for lunch the next day.
Another option for nights you can’t cook, is to prepare meals in the crock pot the night before. Then, all you should have to do is turn the crock pot on low the next morning and dinner will be ready for you when you want it.
Simple Home Improvements To Make During A No Spend Challenge
Assuming you have basic home improvement tools and items laying around your house, here are a few easy improvements you can make.
#38 Tighten those loose doorknobs or fixtures in your home
Do you have a loose ceiling fan that clicks every time you turn it on? Now, is the perfect time to take care of it.
#39 Patch up those imperfections
There’s no better time to patch up holes in the walls from paintings you’ve taken down or ones that those rambunctious kids made. You’ll probably need paint and a paint brush to touch up the wall color too.
#40 Replace burned out light bulbs
It’s funny how you can get used to something when it’s not easy to fix. If you have light bulbs that aren’t easy to reach and require some effort to replace, it’s time to bust out with a ladder and replace those bulbs.
#41 Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Make sure batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working. It is recommended to change batteries in these detectors at least once or twice a year.
#42 Fix garments
Grab a needle and thread and replace those missing buttons on your shirts and pants. Also, patch up any holes you have in your clothes, blankets, sheets, curtains, etc.
Warm Wishes For a Successful No Spend Challenge
A no spend challenge is not easy but when done right it can be fun and perhaps life changing. Use this time to enjoy the simpler things in life and build a solid money management foundation. A solid money management foundation will carry you forward in tough times and help you reach your financial goals quicker.
So, what are you waiting for? Pull out that calendar and set a date to get started. Oh and don’t forget to tell all your friends and family your plans so you are more likely to hold yourself accountable.
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