No Spend November Challenge–An Introduction

The “No Spend November Challenge has been floating around on the interwebs for quite some time now and after a credit card heavy year, we here at the biz·e·home were eager to put our spending spree on ice for a short spell.  The purpose of these budget challenges is much like that of a Whole30, Paleo, or any other food elimination diet.  That is, you take away the temptation and any trace of it, and after some time you don’t miss the treat.  In this case, those treats are the dollars (or twenty-dollar bills) that we toss away on useless purchases that bring us zero happiness and more clutter.

I had noticed that our convenience spending was ticking up a bit. Sandwiches at the local deli. A new dress or shirt to add to our already expansive (and expensive) wardrobe. A few too many bottles of tequila purchased for date nights in. The charges were adding up and not adding much to our lives. We wanted to take some of the pressure off of us to keep pursuing “buy highs” and live a simpler life, even if just for a month. So No Spend November was born. We vowed to eat in for every meal, spend $0 on clothing, alcohol, non-essential foods and beverages, and to reduce our entertainment bill. We cancelled Hulu, but kept Netflix and cable because we are 1) grandfathered into a good price; or 2) locked into a contract (damn you FIOS). As I was preparing my turmeric, dill, and greek yogurt tuna salad for lunch this morning, I decided that I wanted to share my tips for getting through this month without wanting to shoot someone successfully.

5 Steps to Prep for a No-Spend November Challenge:

  1. Meal plan: Fast food beckons down the path of wallet and waistline destruction. The week before your November challenge begins create a rough month-long meal plan and corresponding shopping list. Load up the plan with healthy non-perishables or frozens, such as beans or veggies and bulk meat.  The weekend before your challenge begins, get into the kitchen and create freezer meals that you can easily thaw and reheat. Repeat as weAdded bonus: you’ll save money and cut down on food waste with the meal plans.
  2. Do a closet cleanout: Making sure your sartorial rotation is in full force is a must. Most of us are lucky enough to have a pretty sufficient wardrobe that can get us through a work week and weekend without laundry. If you have more than that, consider yourself blessed and never set foot inside of Saks again. I jest, but seriously, for the purpose of a budget challenge, if you have 7 days worth of outfits that can be mixed and matched, you do not need to shop for clothing. The trick is to make sure each piece is clean and in good condition. And can be easily found in that hot mess closet of yours. When you “don’t have anything to wear”, it usually is because you can’t find your clothes. So take a weekend to sift through your closet to rediscover gems and recondition threadbare workhorses. Your bank account and morning sanity will thank you later.
  3. Resist the urge to overspend in advance: The Target demons knew that I was about to freeze my charge accounts last week and they sent me an enticing advert every single day to make me suffer. An end table that I have my eye on now is on sale. Combine with Cartwheel and Ebates and I am looking at the lowest price this season. I justified that the deal would make it worth the last-minute October purchase. But I didn’t pull the trigger. No matter the deal, I can’t technically afford the table right now and it didn’t make sense to go into debt to save a few bucks today. A no spend challenge is supposed tooencourage analysis of your spending habits and promote mindfulness around money.
  4. Tell your friends: November is sort of a terrible month to do a no spend challenge. The holidays are coming. Some of the best “sales” are right around the corner. The party invitations are pouring in. People are going to become more social and will want you to partake. Don’t risk upsetting your acquaintances by snubbing invites. Instead, tell them what you are doing and why it is important to you. Most people who I have told are respectful and understanding. Some are even intrigued and will want to join you on your journey. And if your friends judge you or try derail your plans, you should seriously consider whether they are truly your friends.
  5. Do your best: You may “need” to get your car washed or a haircut during a November challenge. It’s ok.  No need to beat yourself up. As long as you are being mindful, even the small changes you make along the way will impact how you think about your wants and your needs.

Here at bizewife, we are up for the challenge.  We had slowed our spending towards the end of October as well because we knew we would be traveling at the end of November and would not be able to keep the challenge alive. But we will be doing nearly four full weeks before we leave. Yesterday was the official kickoff and Day 2 of the November challenge has been a success. I hope that our journey this month will give you some tools and tips to start your own budget challenge and become more mindful about your money.

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Have you ever participated in a No Spend November Challenge?

What tips do you have for getting through the 30 longest days of the year?

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