30 Day ‘No Spend’ Challenge – Rules and Updates [COMPLETE]
Background and Overview
My name is Ashley and I am a shopaholic. No seriously. I have an awful habit of buying things that A) I don’t need and B) can’t afford. Ever since a young age, I’ve always gotten most of what I wanted and my parents worked very hard to provide me with those things. Whether it was the fast food I wanted every week after church or the money I wanted for that video game, growing up I only ever really heard the word no occasionally. Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t always get what I wanted and my family went through countless financial struggles so I am so incredibly thankful for the things that I do have. But for whatever reason, that was never enough for me.
Let’s talk about online shopping. Online shopping, in my opinion, is probably one of the best resources available to us in the 21st century. First, let me backtrack. As some of you may know, I do have ADHD and a part of my ADHD is impulsivity (something I’m so not proud of) If I see someone with something I like, I have to have it like yesterday. To be honest, a majority of the things I own are the things that I saw other people with/wearing and purchased immediately. It’s very hard to tell myself no especially when I’ve never really had to practice restraint in that department growing up.
This is something that has been negatively affecting my life for years. I’ve worked since the age of 17 and have absolutely nothing to show for it. I’ve had countless savings accounts with the attempt to save my money to no avail. It’s time for a change. I’m tired of feeling trapped in this vicious cycle of purchasing things impulsively and then regretting the decision later. So, after my social media fast.(you can check out my experience here) I felt it heavy on my heart to start a 30-day no spend challenge. I started the challenge immediately after my social media fast (On January 28th) so my 30-day challenge will end at the end of February (February 28th)
If anything I mentioned above resonated with you and/or you are interested in participating in your own 30-day fast you’re in the right place. Keep reading for some good to know information as well as my 5 steps to success so you finish this challenge strong!
General Information and Rules
For starters, the 30-day fast takes place over 30 days; thought I’d start with the obvious. The rules and the way you go about this challenge will be different for everyone. My life and the way I go about this challenge may not make sense for your life and the way you chose to go about your challenge. For example, the basic rule for my challenge is no purchasing anything but the essentials. Essentials include food, living expenses, etc.
What’s Your Motive?
My motive behind this challenge is to stop spending money that I don’t have (Credit Cards) on things that I don’t need. This way I am practicing restraint – because I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent adding things to my cart on Amazon instead of being productive. By doing these things, I will be training myself to stop spending money on the things I want the minute I see them, to spend more time doing what’s important and to pay back the debt I’ve accrued on my credit cards.
Before starting your challenge, come up with a brief description of why you are doing it and what you would like to accomplish from it.
Steps to Success!
Step 1 – Remove the Distraction
In order to set myself up for success, I went ahead and deleted all of the shopping apps from my phone. Limiting my access to these apps makes it so much harder to just pop an item in my cart the minute I get the urge. Now, If I want to get on Amazon for something, I have to get on my laptop, which most times is out of reach or a hassle to get out.
Step 2 – Maximize Your Learning Experience
I also created a note in my notes app of everything that I get the urge to buy for the entire month, along with their prices. This way I can keep track of the things that I would have bought during this 30-day challenge and see just how much money I saved. A good friend of mine gave me the Idea of writing everything down but instead, she would put the money she would have used to buy that product into her savings account.
Step 3 – Incentivise. Incentivise, Incentivise!
I gave myself an incentive. Let’s be real, I don’t think I’d have the willpower to just stop spending money if I didn’t have some awesome thing to look forward to at the end of the challenge. So at the end of my 30-day challenge, I will be purchasing a MacBook! I know what you’re thinking but this purchase is not a spur of the moment thing. I have been planning this purchase for months and I will be in a good place financially at the end of this challenge (from paying off my credit cards) to purchase one. This MacBook will not only benefit me in my schooling, as the laptop I have now is on its last leg. It will also be a good investment as I continue to grow my blog and my youtube channel even after college.
Step 4 – Try your hardest, but be kind to yourself.
There will be times that you slip up, this is a challenge after all. It’s not meant to be easy, If it was then you probably shouldn’t do it. I am not saying you should have “cheat days” where you can purchase things you don’t need for the fun of it. I’m saying, If you happen to spend a couple dollars out of habit before you realize you’re doing this challenge, it’s okay. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Take this time to reflect on what made you make the purchase; how you felt before, during and after; and then make a conscious effort to not make that same mistake again. As you’ll see in my updates, I’ve slipped up a few times. It’s a step back but it’s not the end of the world.
Step 5 – Start Now and Take It Seriously!
Don’t give yourself time to think about it. If your spending habits are a legitimate problem in your life causing you more harm than good, give this a try! Follow these steps and personalize them to your liking. Most importantly, keep me updated! I would love to hear about your experiences whether they’re baby steps in the right direction or unexpected leaps back. We’re in this together!
Updates By Week!
Week one | 1/28-2/3
I’m going to be real with you, this was a real struggle. When I started this 30-day challenge, I allowed myself one exception. My brother and I were planning to see the new Maze Runner movie Saturday the 3rd and I was willing to allow myself to spend money on the movie ticket. That’s what happened, however, Thursday of that week (two days before) my roommate asked if I wanted to get Chinese and without, thinking there went $11. It wasn’t until after I had already gotten the Chinese that I remembered my no spend challenge. Soooo, that was slip up #1. I’m sure there’s much more to come but I’m staying optimistic!
Week two | 2/4-2/10
So week two was a doozy. On Sunday (2/4), I made a major slip up which we will call slip up #2. I spent a majority of my day on Amazon (It’s a problem, I know), adding all of the things to my cart what I was planning to buy at the end of this challenge. One of which was the Macbook that I wanted. All was well until I realized that there was only one of that specific MacBook left on sale and felt like I Instantly had to buy it. Before purchasing, I asked my brother his opinion on the situation and decided to purchase it. Instantly, I felt bad because I was breaking my no spend challenge and purchasing something I couldn’t afford at the moment. After talking to my mom about the purchase, It was evident that she was disappointed and I instantly felt that regret. So I went back and canceled the order. (Y’all I’m a hot mess, haha)
I realized later on, that by relying on my mom and brother to make a decision on whether or not to make this purchase was me 1) being incredibly indecisive and 2) not wanting to take full responsibility for my actions. It also made me realize just how bad my spending problem was.
A piece of advice that my mom gave me before I freaked and canceled the order was that although there was only one of that specific Macbook left at that moment, God would’ve given me one even better had I waited until the end of my challenge. That is something that I’m holding on to because I truly believe it’s true. I knew the timing was wrong and I was willing to purchase something I thought I needed that moment even if it went against what I knew was true. This slip up actually opened my eyes to the severity of the situation and made me realize that I need to start taking responsibility for my own actions.
The rest of the week went by and I was careful not to spend money on things I didn’t need. However, I did spend a little too much time on Amazon. I did delete amazon from my phone but that didn’t stop me from pulling it up on my laptop. Instead of working on homework or being productive, I spent Lord knows how many hours adding things to my cart. I knew it was a problem, but I didn’t want to acknowledge it.
Saturday came around and I did purchase a Journal – but I consider a journal to be a necessity. I journal my prayers every day and was in desperate need of a new one as my old one was running out of space.
Overall, this week was tough but I learned a lot. I can’t wait to see what the next few weeks hold for me and this challenge.
Week Three |2/11-2/17
Yall, this challenge is flying by (mostly because when I’m writing this (Feb. 20) there are only 8 days left and when you read this – if you read it the day it’s up – there are only 6 more days left! Can I get an amen) Now that I re-read the previous sentence, I feel like I should explain how I do these updates. I type up my update for the previous week on Tuesday of each week. For example, today is the 20th and I’m writing about my experiences from the 11th to the 17th. What’s happing right this moment in my ‘No Spend Challenge won’t be written until next Tuesday, for all of this week. However, since the challenge ends next Wednesday, I’ll probably just include the overall summary then.
Alright, now that we’ve got that out of the way, here’s all of the juicy stuff you’ve been waiting for. Jk this past week wasn’t that exciting. I started to come to terms with my Amazon obsession. I would browse amazon for literally HOURS putting stuff in my cart (and then ultimately removing them) instead of doing homework. So I put my foot down and downloaded a plugin on Google Chrome that allows me to block websites. I blocked Amazon on Sunday and went most of the week without it. There were definitely times when I had that urge to get on Amazon but by realizing that it was blocked and not wanting to take the steps to unblock it, I found something else to do. That worked for a majority of the week, but Saturday night I broke down and unblocked amazon. I’ve noticed that Saturday nights seem to be the time when I spend countless hours on Amazon instead of doing homework. However, I must say that my obsession with Amazon has definitely tapered down a bit from the 6 days that I was denied access.
As far as purchases go, I did purchase hamster food Sunday afternoon but hamster food is, of course, a necessity. So no harm no foul there. (Oh yeah, I have a hamster! It wasn’t for me I promise!)
Those were the only interesting things I have to report for this week but I’m so excited to almost be done with this challenge. I do still get urges to buy things I don’t need but knowing that you all are keeping me accountable helps a ton. I know the challenge isn’t over, but I feel like this is something I will have to incorporate into my life indefinitely, or at least until it becomes a habit.
Week Four | 2/18-2/24 –
Wow, I’m super behind on updating this but here goes nothing! This week was hard no doubt. I went through the majority of it not too worried about the challenge and where I was at but I did slip up. Before we get to the slip-up though, I have to be real with ya’ll about amazon. the addiction is bad Ya’ll. I unblocked the site one night and spent Lord know’s how much time on it. Mostly adding to my cart, getting my MacBook purchase ready. but that wasn’t too awful bad.
Now for the slip up, I work at the bookstore and we were having this crazy awesome sale (I know, I know) and the book bag I had been keeping in the back was 50% off. So I bought it, but I asked my mom to “gift” it to me so that I wouldn’t have to take full responsibility. I also almost caved in on that Saturday (the 24th) when I wanted Tim Hortons – Their Iced Caps are HEAVEN, but thats beside the point, I didn’t cave and I lived to see another day.
Week Five, Home Stretch | 2/25-2/28 – [It’s a LONG one]
IT’S OVER!! I SURVIVED. Okay so my no spend challenge ended exactly a week and one day ago, so I’m majorly behind on updating this but ya’ll I did it. Can I just say that the past 30 days seemed like the LONGEST 30 days of my life, But it was SO worth it. I discovered a whole lot about myself, and I mean a LOT. I learned that:
The Amazon Addiction is REAL. I probably spent more time browsing on Amazon than I did studying for my classes (Okay, so I’m exaggerating a bit, but you get the gist).
Only I am responsible for my actions. A common theme that I noticed in this challenge was the theme of diverting the responsibility of my actions to someone else. I wanted someone to make the decisions for me rather than making them myself because I knew that If someone else made the decision for me, they were responsible for the overall outcome of the decision. I realized I was doing this and am so much more aware of it now. I do this not only with spending decisions but for basically any semi-major decision in my life.
Things won’t make me happy. Sure, the thrill of ordering things and receiving them are exciting in and of itself, but that excitement only lasts a brief period of time. Eventually, new things become old and the cycle never ends. Ultimately, I have a lot of stuff that made me happy at one point but that is just that, stuff. The ONLY thing that can yield real happiness is the Lord.
A Bible verse that has helped me drastically through this 30 Day Challenge is Psalm 23:1 – “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” The things that I would want are earthly things. I am a child of God and I am not of this world, I am just in it. The LORD is my Shepard. I SHALL NOT WANT. It made me sad because I know that God should be enough for me. I want him to be, and I can’t be chasing the things of this world and have Him first. I realized wanting things and not allowing God to be enough for me was a sign of disobedience. As a God fearing Christian, I needed to change.
God comes first. He is the single most important person in my life and I am serious about my faith. I had to come to the realization that putting God first doesn’t mean that I can’t ever have anything I want. In fact, I still got my MacBook, and some other awesome things to redo my room. When you put God first in your life, the things that you desire start to align with the desires that the Lord has for your life. If you’re not sure about whether or not something you desire is in God’s will for your life, all you have to do is ask.
Before I got the MacBook, I prayed daily for the Lord to direct my steps. I prayed that he would allow me to get the best MacBook for me at the best time and price. When my 30-Day Challenge ended, I told God that I wouldn’t place my order until the following day after I had already had my quiet time with him. I did this because I want God to be #1 in my life. Only after I did those things, did I make my purchase. Once I got my MacBook, my mom and I prayed over it. We prayed for durability, sustainability, and long life. I also named my MacBook. I know it’s weird to name inanimate objects but hear me out.
I named my MacBook Grace. I named it Grace because without the Grace of God, I wouldn’t have it. Every time I look at my MacBook, I immediately think of God’s grace – because he could have denied me the MacBook (I wouldn’t have purchased it without his blessing) but he didn’t. I was able to get this MacBook not because of anything I have done, but because of God’s grace and that’s something I want to remember forever.
Final Verdict: Would I recommend this challenge and would I do it again? Yes and YES. This challenge helped me a TON as you can see from what I wrote above. I was not only able to pay off around $500 in credit card debt (They’re paid off wooooo), I was able to get my new computer! (also woooo).
So this is it friends! the 30-Day No-Spend Challenge is complete! If you think this is something you’d like to try, go for it! I did it and I believe in you.