Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to go a week without spending any money. Pay your bills, if you need gas in your car to get to work, that’s ok, but spend no money on the “extras” that you typically would.
The purpose of this mission is to help you get a firmer grasp on your spending and to possibly get your budget back in line. Sometimes I say to myself, “Where does all my money go!” or I realize I have a lot less cash in my wallet than I thought I did. I know I’m not the only one that this happens to either. A lot of you can relate.
After saying that to myself for the umpteenth time I decided to do something about it. I needed to get my spending back on track. So hubby and I came up with the Patterson Family Money Challenge.
For one week we wouldn’t spend money. We paid our bills, yes but stopped short of buying or spending money on anything else. That meant no dinners out when I was just too tired to cook, no date nights for the hubby and me, no drinks out with friends on the weekend, no buying something I saw in the shop window that I just “have to have.” We even went as far as no grocery shopping… Which forced us to make do with the food in the house.
When Mr. Patterson and I embarked on this challenge I have to say I wasn’t all that excited about it. I felt committed to the challenge, but I really thought I’d have a lot of problems completing it. I consider myself frugal, but a lot of times I spend money without even thinking about it. This could be a cup of coffee on the way to work or a pack of gum at the gas station. Cash just leaves my wallet like it has a mind of its own.
So when the week was over and we hadn’t spent a single dime for seven straight days I was amazed at myself. For one thing I was extremely happy with myself because I had completed the challenge. I was proud of myself for sticking to the plan and not deviating from it.
I proved to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to (now if only I could be so committed to working out). I actually came out of this challenge more confident in myself and my abilities. I love that feeling!
Number two, I was also happy that the challenge hadn’t been as hard to accomplish as I thought it would! Like I said I expected the no spending week to be hard for me. I expected that in the beginning I would be strong, but as the days went by I would feel the pull to spend money get stronger and stronger. But that didn’t happen!
One time I realized I didn’t have an ingredient I needed to cook a meal that night. Now normally if this would happen I would just run to the grocery store and buy it. But this week I couldn’t. So I had to work around it. I ended up really liking this approach because it made me use up some food items in our house that we’d had in the back of the cupboard for way too long. I went on to do this with a bottle of alcohol someone gave us years ago that we never drink. I was so happy to get rid of the damn thing! Overall I felt accomplished for finding a solution to the problem as well as using up things that have been sitting around the house for way too long.
The second thing I was amazed by after completing this challenge is just how much money we were able to add to our savings account! Man, oh, man did this challenge open up my eyes to just how much money hubby and I are spending all the time! It may feel like its just $20 here or there but after doing that a few times (or in my case NOT doing that a few times) the amount really adds up. At the end of the week we were able to add $247 to our savings account! I was amazed!
I realized that this would be a great method to quickly build up an emergency fund, accumulate extra money for an upcoming vacation or free up money to pay down debt. This really is a great short term wealth building tactic!
I realize we couldn’t continue our no-spending challenge indefinitely, but this mini experiment was really refreshing. It addition to gaining confidence in my own abilities and being extremely proud of my entire family I gained a good grasp on just how much money we are actually spending.
In addition it made Mr. Patterson and I realize the kinds of things we don’t regret spending money on. This was something I didn’t expect to learn. I expected to learn about our family’s spending habits, but I didn’t foresee also getting to know the types of expenditures that have a positive effect on our family, ones that we will continue to do.
My husband and I realized that spending money on experiences were actually good uses of our money. We never regret spending money on things that allow us to have fun together or spend time together. For us that’s going out on dates where it’s just the two of us or happy hour drinks with our friends or going to sporting events together. Anytime spending money allows us to create a memory and bring us closer together is money well spent in our book, within reason of course.
All in all we liked our no spending week so much that we decided to do it again next month. It’s a great excuse to not spend anything, not go shopping, not browse the web and not to always want more, more, more. If nothing else it’s a great way to save money and pad our bank accounts.
Would you like to join me next month in a no spend week? For seven days and nights I want you and your family to not spend a single dime, no matter what pops up (emergencies aside). You’ll have to use your financial prowess to overcome problems like I did with dinner for my family.
After you’ve completed your mission tell me about your experience. Make sure to include examples of things that were harder than you expected, things you realized about yourself or family and how much money you ended up saving. If your story is good enough I’ll include it in an upcoming feature.
I look forward to reading about your experiences! Good luck!
Keeping Money in Your Pocket,