No Spending Money Challenge
Now before I get into the definition of spending money let me get you caught up to what brings me to this challenge. I know some people who, if they have a dollar in their pocket, they have to spend it. I know others who specifically don’t carry around any cash because they know they will spend it by the end of the day. Then there are others who won’t even carry around their debt card. When I ask them, what will you do in case of an emergency, the answer is, “what emergency, I am only a few miles from home, what kind of emergency would happen that I would need money?” Well, that sounds like a topic for another post, for this post I want to focus on your self control and planning abilities.
So what do I mean about “spending money”? I know there will be some people out there who will be so technical that they will say just by owning a car or a house you have to spend money everyday because you have to pay for insurance, power, water, etc. which those costs add up everyday and the payment is actually divided out by the days between payments. Yes, this is true, especially for budgeting purposes. What I am defining as “spending money” is actual transaction for the day, meaning, you bought gas, groceries, a gallon of milk, a vending machine purchase. Anything that causes you to have cash, credit or debt exchange for the day.
What is the point of this challenge? It will help all of us get a better understanding of just how fluid money is and how fast and easy we let it out of our hand without even thinking about it because some purchases are just too small for them to register in our minds.
You will have to be honest with yourself, actually I really encourage you to have your spouse participate with you or an accountability partner. Someone who you can report to each night and tally up your results.
For me, I can say I have done this before, on multiple times. I am actually challenging myself on this right now and her is why. I realized that I had slipped a bit in my spending habits. I had been faithful about taking my breakfast and lunch to work. Well, work got very busy, my home life got very busy. One day I said, “oh, I will just get breakfast on the way to work” at lunch I ran out and hit the fast food restaurant. Well, one day slipped into a week, then a month, before I really realized it I had been doing this for six months and blowing my food budget out of the water. I put the breaks on because I believe eating out is a waste of money not to mention the food isn’t that great nor is it good for you. Just goes to show you everyone can back slid a bit when it comes to money.
Anyway, I started taking my breakfast and lunch to work again and I challenged myself in to seeing how long I could go without spending money. It is actually pretty fun to see just how long you can go.
So the longest I have gone without spending money was 27 days. Now to be fair, I was off work for a week of that so my gas consumption was much lower and just before I started I had gone grocery shopping, which I actually try to do only once a week. The next best day I had was 14 days and that was going to work everyday, I have to admit, I did push it a bit, by the time I gave in I think I coasted into the gas station on fumes.
Last week I made it three days, then had to get gas. This week was just a couple of days, I had a moment of weakness and got a Reese Peanut Butter cup out of the vending machine.
Here is on I do it. I pick a day to start, say right after grocery shopping or right after I fill the car up with gas. From that purchase I start the clock. I count each and every day as a win that I don’t spend any money, that means cash, debit or credit (well, we all know I don’t have any credit cards so that one is easy). I also count online purchases, if I buy something online, then the clock starts all over again. What I don’t count are regular bills, such as water, internet, cell phone, power, etc.
But Kim, why not count those bills you just mentioned? Well, those items should already be in your budget and planned spending. The goal of the challenge is to get you to focus on the extra spending, to get you to focus on where your pocket change is going. Focusing on this will also help you realize if you need to adjust your budget, either by adding a line item or increasing or decreasing a category. It will also get you to focus more on the compulsive spending. Get you to stop and think, “nope, I am not going to break the non-spending cycle by buying this just cause I want it now”. Delaying gratification will help you spend less, because chances are, in a few days you won’t want what you though you needed and hence, save money.
So go ahead and take the Not Going To Spend Money challenge and let me know how many days you go without spending any money.