No Spend does NOT mean no spend. You are still paying rent / mortgage and all of your bills. Any existing debt can still be included in those bills. You will then set your own goals to fit in with your own life.
Why Start a No Spend Challenge?
For our family it has always been the case that we spend what we earn. When we first got together my husband came preloaded with bad debt. We managed to live on the breadline and pull ourselves out of debt. Having never felt that we spent excessively, why do we still have no real savings? We do own our own house, or some of it at least! I am finding that we are not alone in now earning a middle range wage, no children, but no savings.
Another reason would be how much I cringe at the thought of being consumers. Our planet struggles to maintain us all, so we already grow our own as well as make our own crafts. Why not extend this? How can we not at least try?
Your reasons may be similar and I have spoken to people in the UK worried about Brexit and the cost of living going up. I have met people who have one self-employed member in the house and this worries them. Whatever your ‘why’ I can guess it boils down to insecurity about the future.
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What are you spending on?
We have two sorts of cost each month, fixed and variable. The fixed ones aren’t all that ‘fixed’ actually. A good mortgage advisor would come in handy each time you need to remortgage and there are ways to negotiate a good price. I am changing job so my super efficient hybrid on higher purchase may need to be tweaked to reduce our overall costs. Our Gas and Electric are not on a fixed term contract so we will look at price comparison sites every 6 months to stay ahead on the amount we spend. I am looking at our water bill and whether we might be better off with a water meter this summer. For more on how to cut costs and stay green have a look at Zero Waste No Spend Kitchen Wins
We have never been able to stick to looking at receipts to see how much we spend on variable costs. You can see the start of the problem there! However with the no-spend year we don’t intend to. By popping some rules together we will be able to cut all of the variable spending to the minimum.
- no cutting back on FairTrade products. This is a non-negotiable really as I have been out in countries where modern day slavery has been deployed to bring us cheap foods. It is icky and not something I would like to support.
- small steps are also important, see the tier system below!
- homemade is acceptable as an alternative, we will look to reuse, recycle and repurpose where we can.
- fix first then look to replace
- money for pets not to be adjusted, we have furry friends who need certain essentials. That said I do intend to create a lot of toys for them still
- medicine is not to be affected. This is particularly important as poor Paddy has just come off his motor bike and he needs dressings and pain medication still
- We may need a bit of discretion around gift giving as we have two young nephews and a niece. We are thinking for the older one to give experience days though.
So scary video time…
No Spend Tier System
So I have set up the Tier system. It is a bit like when we start a new diet and go all out to ensure we hit our first weeks target. It is not always sustainable and with the best will in the world cutting out carbs or only eating potatoes is not the most exciting way to live!
So we want this detox to work and a no spend year will have everything that life can throw at you in any given year! So if you are suddenly visiting sick relatives in hospital, do not be afraid of getting a quick coffee as a pick me up! You can’t always be thermos flask ready! With the Tier system I intend to start off realistically and if one month is particularly hard I can drop down a Tier. I will show you what they look like for us and you can have a think too.
No online shopping for anything other than groceries. New clothes, shoes, jewellery, perfume, make up – all banned! Cancel that Netflix. Visit the gym for the first time to get money back and stop any future payments!
Now that I have scared you all, fancy a declutter? Start to get some income as well as no spend! We will talk more about what to do with your unwanted stuff later on!
Oh no this is the big one for us! No eating out; lunches, nope. Coffees? Oh poop no! Sandwich on the train to a meeting? Only from your beeswax wrap my love! Sneaky doughnut from the staff canteen? A minute to the lips a lifetime to the ‘no spend’ fail room.
This should be achievable and surely we will start to feel that these are more ‘treats’ once we are done?
No luxury bathroom goodies, or garden treats. A big one for me are plants. So I am squeezing seeds for food into the groceries category, but I am not being hedonistic with it! I will frugally still accept gifts of seeds from others as well as swap mine.
Hardcore no spend only! Travel expenses to be cut. I am going to be 2.3 miles from work so surely I can walk/cycle or run? For a year? Holidays to be cost free. I will be unpicking all of these things along the way so don’t worry! Gifts for free or homemade. This may be hard as there are often times at work when you need to give a donation – a leaving gift or maternity. So we are happy to still be generous here, or offer a handmade alternative! We will also avoid spending on interior decorating. This is a tough one as we have only lived here three months. We still have lots of DIY to do around the place – luckily we have all the power tools we need!
How are we going to manage an entire year of no spend?
By still having fun! Beauty products can be homemade and fun girlie nights in arranged. Hosting a games night, with homemade pizza can be great. Date nights can be movie nights and we can build our own BBQ in the Summer. We can arrange a clothes swap or attend ones which are available in our local area. There are museums to visit and even open air productions for free.
Using the Tier system will allow us to go deeper one month than another. If it is pouring with rain I will not feel guilty for driving to work, I will just need to be aware that it will impact on our overall success.
Over to You!
I will be sharing ways we are reducing our spending throughout the year and let you know if I need to drop down a Tier at all. I will be making my own old fashioned cleaning products. Alongside beauty products made from the garden.
There is no one way to do this.
It is up to you.
Dip into Tier one first month then progress to Tier three, one week each month for the rest of the year. Look to adopt elements from each Tier or skip and just do Tier 2 and 3? Up to you and your families needs. Keep on track by sharing how much you are saving with the rest of the family, or just keep a secret stash account for paying off the mortgage? Whatever your reason why, let’s do this together!
I am starting this fully on April 6th 2019 as it is the start of the financial year. It is a challenge so I will share the bleakness as well as the surprise successes.
Good luck and let’s make this work!
Urgent Financial Help
If you are in dire need of emergency financial advice and the debt is getting too much have a look at Citizens Advice website as they have even more useful advice.
However, if you want to have a sneak peak at some of our crafty upcycling to date check out our Crafty Up-Cycling pages here and equally if you want to get some growing started have a look at our Veggie Patch pages here.
Best of luck getting started!
Once you have started have a look at our top tips for keeping it up!