Before we get too deep into this, let it be known that I went to TJ Maxx twice and didn’t buy anything. If you’re not impressed by that, you’re not human.
This week, I wanted to test myself to see if I could successfully do a no-spend week. Spoiler alert: I did it.
How to Do a No-Spend Week
A no-spend week can sound scary and daunting, but most people make their own rules. Because no-spend weeks are so popular, people adjust them so they can do them monthly.
Three Ways You Can Do a No-Spend Week
No spending on anything. Stock up on food and you pay your bills the week before.
Spend money on the essentials: Toilet paper, milk, gas, and bills.
Stop spending in one category. If you find yourself drawn to Target at nine at night (don’t judge, it’s fun) then cut Target spending out of your week. It might be broader and you might want to cut out spending on clothes for the entire week.
Things to be Aware Of
Some people are against a ‘no spend’ week or month because it adds restrictions to something a lot of people already have anxiety about. Some negative results of a no-spend period can be subsequent overspending, or guilt and shame about spending. Not to mention it’s not sustainable long-term.
Practicing a no-spend week is a very privileged thing to do, and I’m aware of that. Some people do this out of necessity and I wasn’t one of those people. I think a large reason why I was so okay with doing this week is that I knew it would be over soon, but it’s a reality that many face and I want to be respectful of that.
The Dangers of Shopping
Shopping and spending aren’t bad or evil, but there can be some downsides to doing them too often.
Shopping can be a distraction for people. Next time you feel the urge to impulse buy or go to the store, stop and ask yourself if your mental health is okay or if you’re using shopping as a distraction.
Shopping also lets us curate a perfect world in our heads. We conjure up perfect situations to go with the outfits or furniture we choose. You do this when someone asks you, “Where will you wear it?” Sometimes it’s sensible, but sometimes you’ve created a new reality in your head that allows you to step away from the current one. The same goes when you buy a piece of furniture that you know your kids will destroy within two seconds of its homecoming. The shopping bug can even be at the grocery store when you buy all the ingredients to make some complex dish, but then you buy a frozen pizza just in case. There’s nothing wrong with curating and creating a new life, but it does become an unhealthy coping mechanism when you use shopping to do that for you.
The Benefits of a No-Spend Week
It Increases Mindful Spending
I went to stores this week without a restrictive mindset and I still didn’t buy anything. I told myself if I thought it would better my environment, I could get something. And yet, I walked out with nothing. I saw a desk chair I liked, I called my partner over, and without referencing my weekly challenge, he said, “Think about it and if you still want it, we can come back next week.” I paused and now have the time to look at places like Amazon and Facebook Marketplace and not feel pressured to buy something the second I see it.
It Makes You Take Stock
Let’s face it, we all have stuff cluttering our homes. I have food that I have carried around with me for two moves and it isn’t getting eaten anytime soon. A no-spend week allows you to be more mindful of what you do have and take advantage of it.
— Jolyn GC in the place to be (@jolyngc) July 27, 2021
As a roundup, this week wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I cheated a little because my partner and I don’t live together and we don’t share expenses. So when he called me on the first day of this challenge and asked me on a date, I went. Together, we went out to dinner twice this week (thanks, bubs) and we stayed in the other nights.
No Spend Activities
Cooking vs. Going Out
I cooked and used a ton of food with things that had been haunting my fridge and pantry for far too long. A lot of people do the Pantry Challenge where they look through their pantries and finally do something with the contents.
Walking and Exercising
It’s the weekend! What are your favourite hobbies that don’t involve a credit card? •#nospendchallenge #nospendjanuary #nospendweekend #nospendyear #nospend #nospend2020 #nospendmonth #nospendday #savingmoney #budget #budgeting #howtobudget #money #moneyblog #moneysa… pic.twitter.com/7k7V9yXM7h
— FempireFinance (@FempireFinance) February 1, 2020
I also had time to walk with my partner. I live in Nashville, so everything downtown is within walking distance. It’s not New York, but we’ve combed the city a few times. I listened to a podcast and hit the road! You don’t have to live in a city to do this. Every town has a park or a place to walk. Just do a quick online search and you’re off!
Spend the time you could be in the store or consuming to learn something! You can learn the new language that you haven’t dusted off since high school French class, or you could take an online class! This is the perfect time to branch out and do what you’ve always wanted to! I retaught myself embroidery this week and I’m pretty proud of how many inappropriate things I learned to cross-stitch.
Do The Tasks You Put Off
I have a list of crappy tasks that I “never have time to do”. Update your computer, unsubscribe from emails, and clean your kitchen. I spent this week cleaning out my closet and threw out five full bags of clothes that I don’t need. Not only was it fun to do, but it also killed a ton of time and crossed something off my list! One YouTuber said that the time she spent not shopping gave her time to do what she wanted to do or what she’d been meaning to do for a bit.
— Faith Nonyane (@MmaneWaBana) January 1, 2020
There were a number of times when I wanted to fix things with money. Like I said, your spending habits are based on how you were raised and I was raised by throwing money at a problem. So when my partner was sad or when my friend didn’t have a good week, I felt like I couldn’t support them in the way that I ought to.
While I know that there are more ways to help someone than just buying them a coffee or dinner, I do think it’s one of the easiest and most appreciated ways, and this week, I had to look at that thought and debate if it was healthy or not.
In The Future
There were elements of this challenge that I enjoyed. It was mostly a practice in mindfulness and awareness for me and that was necessary. I also liked that I proved that I could do a week of not spending. While I’m not sure if it showed strength, it did show restraint and consciousness and I’m glad that I did it.
I’m not sure if I would go cold-turkey on spending again, but I might practice a selective no-spend on certain things or stores for a few days if I notice my spending habits are too much.
I genuinely enjoyed this challenge and I feel more aware and grateful for my surroundings because of it.
Have you ever done a no-spend challenge? What challenge should I do next? Comment below!
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