Created by: Katherine Locke | 14 June 2019

The No Spend Challenge. How Long Can You Go?

You may have heard of the No Spend Challenge.  It received a lot of publicity when personal finance journalist, Michelle McGagh published her book The No Spend Year:  How to Spend Less and Live More.  Her goal was to pay off a chunk of her large London mortgage and her experiment meant she was able to pay down £22,000.

Most of us couldn’t take on the challenge of a No Spend year, but what about a week?  Or even a day? Many people report that setting limits on their spending is like pressing the reset button on their approach to financial health.  We are so used to spending small amounts on a daily basis, that we don’t even notice it. Michelle McGagh says her wakeup call was realising she had spent over £400 on takeaway coffee in a year.  It really is the small spending that adds up to a lot.

Most of us would think twice about spending £400 on one item.  We might even shop around and see if we could find it cheaper elsewhere or discuss it with our friends and family to check if it is a wise way to spend our money.  We would also probably sleep on the decision before reaching for our wallet. But we don’t think twice about spending £4 here and there, and before you know it, we are hundreds of pounds poorer.

So how to plan a No Spend Day so you end up feeling really good about it.

  • Plan Ahead
    If you are planning a no spend day, make sure you bring coffee from home or take a packed lunch out with you.  It is essential to be organised and think ahead.
  • Identify Your Spend Points
    Usually pick up a Danish pastry on the way to work?   Make sure you have something to replace it.
  • Needs Vs Wants
    You see something that gets you reaching for your credit card, but do you really need it? Ask yourself if it is something you need or just something you want?  If it is the latter, take a day or two to think about it. It isn’t going anywhere.
  • Have a Clothes Clear Out
    How many of us have cupboards filled with things we never or rarely wear?  Be ruthless and sell what you don’t want, take old clothes to the recycling bank, and wash and iron the things you like.  It can feel like a whole wardrobe refresh without spending a penny.
  • Free Activities
    Start checking out free activities in your area, such as museums or walks or wild swimming. See how creative you can be when it comes to planning your No Spend Day.

Who knows, your No Spend Day might even be addictive and become a regular part of your weekly routine.  Rather like the Meat Free Monday movement, No Spend Wednesday could take off. If you spend an average of £15 per day on extras, over a year just one day a week of No Spend could net you £780!  Freeing yourself from the need to spend money, looking for new ways to entertain yourself and becoming more mindful about spending could be the start of a whole new way of life.

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