How to avoid failing the nospend challenge

The NoSpend Challege is a very popular challenge among the minimalists, FIRE enthusiasts and zero wasters (at least those I follow on the Internetz). And with my super ambitious plan to save up a down payment for an apartment, it’s something I decided to pursue as well, because I don’t want to spend the next 20 years just putting away scraps. Seriously, I want to be able to buy a place by 2025.

Yes, I’m ambitious. But I’m also trying to be realistic. Trying out NoSpend weeks and NoSpend Months before I go ahead and do a NoSpend year. All to get me closer to the crazy goal of 70 000 PLN by 2025.

I hope it goes without saying that I’m very motivated. It’s not a challenge I want to fail. Here are the steps I’m taking:

  1. Plan, plan, plan ahead

    Leaving things to chance is never a good idea and the NoSpend challenge is no different. Additionally, when I was initially considering taking on this challenge, I realized that I would have to be deliberate about my spending habits because otherwise, in the long run, I would not be able to keep myself from random spending that would go against the rules. There are things that need to be bought: groceries, public transport tickets, textbooks for classes. Figuring out ahead of time what expenses await and not letting yourself spend anything beyond that will make winning the NoSpend challenge so much easier.

  2. Identify your problem areas

    Let’s face it. If you didn’t have problem areas where you spend way too much money, the NoSpend challenge would not be necessary. I know I have my problem areas. Like scrapbooking supplies. Snacks at work. Impulsive junk food buys to pick up my mood. It used to be books that I bought in big numbers and never got around to reading them… Knowing what’s the thing I tend to buy without thinking, makes it easier to control. The first step, after all, is to admit you have a problem.
    Knowledge means I can plan for the inevitable moment when I want to buy a snack, or order a pizza, or hear my friend went to the scrapbooking shop and could pick me up some washi tape. It means I can plan to take additional snacks from home, to avoid buying them on my way to work. I can warn my friend not to buy me washi. I can make accessing the pizza website a little more difficult.

  3. Keep my goal at the front of my mind

    I walk by a store on my way home. It’s so easy to just walk in, pick up a bag of chips and get home. Or a big bottle of soda… Ordering a pizza is just a couple of clicks away. Buying popcorn and soda while at the movies is a matter of one stop before going into the theater. Paying for those things is just as easy. A click of a mouse here, a wave of a card there…
    There needs to be a reason for not going the easy way, not spending that unnecessary money. I found that if I’m tempted and think about the apartment I want to buy, it’s easier to resist. And it does help with my motivation in the long run.

  4. Share your goal with others

    I’m not going to lie. Having a money buddy has been incredibly helpful to me in my journey to get a hold of my finances and get out of a whole lot of debt (regaining positive net worth in less than a year after starting my path). Telling people is very helpful when it comes to keeping yourself in check. If people know, I always try just a little harder, because failing would mean admitting to your friends that things just didn’t work out. On top of that, the understanding and the cheerleading I’ve received so far added to my motivation. I’m pretty sure that the support stopped me from losing my enthusiasm on more than one occassion.

  5. Account for missteps

    Let’s be realistic. I know full well that at some point I’m going to mess up, stumble and just buy something I shouldn’t, something I didn’t plan for. I’m not going to let that stop me from getting the most out of this challenge. Here’s my logic: if I let the slip up rule me, I fail the entire challenge. Be it NoSpend week, month or the year. But if I account for the mistakes, and plan ahead on what I’m going to do in that situation. For me, I have decided for every mistake, I’ll be extending the challenge for an additional day. You might want to deal with it some other way.

What are your ways of avoiding failing the nospend challenge? I’m always looking for more tricks!

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