"In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take."

No Spend Challenge: 28 Days. No Spending.

28 days.  No spending.  Did we lose you already?!  It’s called a no spend challenge or fiscal fast.  A temporary, self-imposed challenge to see how little can be spent, or how much can be saved, by spending on only necessary items.  Eliminating frivolous spending, spending intentionally and making an effort to focus on using up what you have on hand throughout the month.  Since we’re going to need to do a lot of adjustments to our budget and spending over the next few years, we figured this would be a great, shorter-term experiment for us.  Let’s be honest, though, we’re cheating.   Just a little bit, ya know, because it’s February and it’s the shortest month, but, by the end of 28 days of no spending we might be miserable or starving, or both miserable and starving, so we’ll start small.

So here’s the idea behind our our 28 day fiscal fast.  For 28 days, we’re going to avoid spending money on anything that isn’t necessary to live.  Sushi Wednesdays?  Nope.  The newest movie that was released on iTunes?  Not this month.  New investments into our little cryptocurrency adventure?  Going to have to wait.  The idea is to find out how much money we actually need to survive each month after we cut all our unnecessary spending.  To make sure we were on the same page about what was about to happen, we set up some ground rules before the challenge begins.

Our No Spend Challenge Ground Rules:

1. No “stocking up” before we start our no spend challenge.  Spending more money to stockpile things before starting the challenge kind of defeats the purpose, so we’re going to go into February like we would go into any other month.  No hoarding bags of beef jerky to make sure we make it through the month.  No buying a few “extra” tubs of ice cream to safeguard us from a mid-month shortage.

2. We’re going to spend some money during February.  We’re going to have some expenditures during February, but, to keep us accountable, we’re going to try to hold our spending to only these exceptions we’ve identified:

– Paying existing monthly bills. This is an exercise for us to cut unnecessary spending for the month, not stop paying our existing bills and trash our credit scores.  So, we’ll continue to pay our existing monthly bills throughout the month.

– Fuel for vehicles to get to work. Walking to work just isn’t a reality, nor is riding a bike, taking public transportation or carpooling all month due to the nature of our jobs.  So, we’ll consider fuel a necessary expense for the month.

– Necessary groceries. Food is essential to live but spending an exorbitant amount at the grocery store for New York Strips and shrimp isn’t necessary.  During February, our goal will be to cut food waste as much as possible and use up what we can that we already have in the house.  It’s likely that a lot of our meals are going to be a mix-and-match of random stuff because we’re going to focus on using up the cans, boxes and frozen stuff that might have ended up being tossed.

– Scuba gear. This is a planned expense and something we need to take care of in February.  We’re using part of our income tax return for this planned expense and we’ve set a limit of $1,000.

– Medical costs. We both have some medical appointments scheduled during the month of February, so, we’re going to spend what we need to there to stay healthy.  Since doctors and dentists are some of the most unpredictable money-suckers, we’re not even going to try to set a limit for this expense.  Required co-pays and necessary medical expenses only for the month, though, no elective procedures.

3. We will make do with whatever we have around the house.  No new clothes and no new gadgets.  We will use up whatever we have around the house and make do with whatever we have on hand.  Mostly everything we eat and everything we do (outside of work) will be found within ourselves and our home, as it is, not at a store.

4. We will make an effort to finish up some of those nagging projects instead of spending money.  There’s a ton of small, insignificant things that need to be done that just haven’t been a priority to get finished.  During our no spend challenge month, we’ll work on getting them done.

In the spirit of sharing our journey, struggles and victories included, we’ll be reflecting on our progress at the end of each week of our no spend challenge, to stay accountable and to document our experiement.  So, check back often to see how we’re making out.  (And to see if Alexis goes through sushi withdraw!)

Interested in how we did throughout the month?

NO SPEND CHALLENGE: WEEK 1 REFLECTIONS

NO SPEND CHALLENGE: WEEK 2 REFLECTIONS

NO SPEND CHALLENGE: WEEK 3 REFLECTIONS

NO SPEND CHALLENGE: WEEK 4 REFLECTIONS

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