That No Spend Challenge Could Actually Be Hurting You

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Repeat after me : I’m not only working harder, but I’m working smarter. I know what I need will present itself when the time is right.

We’ve all read the debt payoff and road to riches stories. They normally sound something like this:

“50 Things You Should Stop Buying Now to Save More”

“7 Reasons Why I Don’t Buy Things I Don’t Need”

“I Stopped Buying and Saved a lot of Money”

“How to Succeed at a No Spend Challenge and Pay off Debt”

“No Spend Challenge: The Fastest Way To Conquer Debt”

The list goes on and on. I’ve even written posts along these lines. If you’ve never heard of a no spend challenge the premise is fairly simple.  The rules of these no spend challenges usually involve limiting purchases to only needs such as food, gas, bills and personal hygiene in the hopes that all the money you are not spending will be applied to major debt payoff.. Nothing more. Sounds great on the surface right? Admittedly, though I’m now realizing that it’s mostly bad advice…

no spend challenge
It may be helping you save money, but it’s definitely stopping you from making money. The popular No Spend Challenge might be your worst enemy.

 My spending needed to go to rehab. So I did what I could to curb my spending and I even did a no spend challenge. My husband and I SLAYED that no spend challenge. Sure, we excelled at the no spend challenge, but our debt didn’t decrease as much as we hoped. The no spend challenge was supposed to solve that problem. But it didn’t.

The real reason I’m not richer and not paying off student loan debt is because my income stalled for a number of reasons. Let’s take a look at what’s needed to pay off massive amounts of debt and live comfortably. Typically they  involve limiting your spending and making more money.

However, not spending money may be one of the worst things you do if you’re goal is to live richer, happier and more comfortably. So back away slowly from that no spend challenge telling you that anything outside of groceries and gas is off limits for purchase. Unfortunately, I’ve found that some financial gurus, bloggers and others use no spend challenges as scare tactics. Don’t believe me?

Have you ever read a blog post in which it stated, “Every cent you spend on a non necessity is money taking away from your debt payoff goals.”? And sure that may be true to an extent, but it’s ignoring that sometimes the money you spend can help you pay of your debt and make more money.

Of course, it’s hard for you to believe the money will come. You’ve spent the majority of your life telling yourself that money doesn’t grow on trees.  (Newsflash: It does) You’ve convinced yourself that money is hard to come by. You’ve spent your entire life struggling financially, so why would you think otherwise? I get it. I’ve been there and just now getting out of it. I’ve learned that things may not have worked out financially up to this point because you didn’t believe it would and made decisions out of fear because of it. But the money will come.

Not spending money is an act of fear. The no spend challenge feeds into that fear. And if there’s anything I’ve learned in my 29 years on this earth it’s that fear does nothing but hold us back. Some like to think that fear protects us, but in all honesty, it only protects us from living the good life.

Businesses do it all the time. Rather than spending money on employee appreciation they’re stingy with money out of fear only resulting in disgruntled employees who give subpar customer service and the company losing money. If some businesses believed the money will come and invested in their employees they might actually earn more. The same concept applies to you.

If you know purchasing a book will totally transform your earning potential, and boost your self esteem don’t pass it by because doing so is against your no spend challenge rules and some how ruins your ability to pay off that credit card. Ignore the challenge that day.

There’s been far too many times that these challenges stopped people from spending money on the things that could truly change their lives because they’re afraid it wouldn’t work out. Depending on the guidelines the no spend challenge is only feeding into that fear.

So what does that mean? It means it’s time for you to ignore that spending cap when the time calls and buy the damn book. It means if the once in a lifetime opportunity comes up to work with your mentor but it results in spending the money you set aside for your credit card bill, pay for the time with your mentor. If the certification you’ve been eyeing for months finally comes to town but it costs $1,000 and you are struggling, do whatever you can to scrape the $1,000 together to pay for that certification. Doing anything but spending the money on these worthwhile investments is an act of fear that states you don’t believe you can make it. If you truly believe that you have the skill tenacity, and resourcefulness to go the mile to make it as a fitness instructor or whatever you desire, go for it. The money will come. TRUST that the money will come.

As a matter of fact, I dare you to trust the money will come and ignore that no spend challenge. If nothing else do it on your own terms because you believe.

What are your thoughts on the no spend challenge? Do you think it’s too extreme or is it exactly what you need?

TERRIfic Quip: Trust the process.

(Full Disclosure: I wasn’t always this fearless and didn’t arrive at this concept on my own. This book: You are a Badass at Making Money converted me. Get it now. It will change your life)

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  1. I haven’t done any spending challenges or anything, I just try to do better today than I did yesterday. No spend? Nah – I’d be miserable.

    1. exactly! Everything in moderation. Some people go into such extremes with this cut back strategies and it isn’t always ideals.

  2. My mom is actually doing the no spend challenge in order to be more aware of where her money goes so she can then save. I think on either end of the spectrum, whether you do it or not, the goal is to understand what you’re doing with your money and how you can do better.

    1. You make a good point. Admittedly, when we did the challenge we realized we spend too much at the grocery store and on eating out. Because of that we followed up the no spend challenge with a no eating out challenge. That allowed me to curb my spending, save more and spend on things that weren’t exactly needs but assisted in reaching other goals

  3. I’m all up for challenges and create little ones for myself all of the time as well as participate in group ones. However, I feel you on the no spend challenge. I could see it doing more harm than good. The goal to paying off debt quickly is increasing your income. Sometimes to do this you have to invest in yourself.

    1. Exactly! Unfortunately, I learned that the hard way after refusing to spend money on things that most likely would have helped my career. Admittedly, I did pay off some debt when I did it, but not as much as I could have if I invested in myself.

  4. I’ve never heard of the no spend challenge. But I’m not surprised that it gained such popularity. Everything nowadays is so extreme. Slow and steady wins the race though. Simplicity is something that has to be practiced on a daily basis in order for any benefits to really be seen. It’s a way of life really.

  5. Great Tips! Sometimes I think people jump on the wagon because everyone else is doing it! I thought about it and I was like what am I really doing it for! But you definitely bring up some great points!

  6. I always have a hard time investing in myself. I am trying to break from that and do what I need to. I have to realize that the little bit of money that I am taking to invest in me isn’t going to break me or my family.

  7. I appreciate your perspective on this. I never do anything extreme like no spend challenges. I believe in being balanced and not fearful about money.

  8. I echo a lot of the comments’ sentiments about moderation being key. Knowing me, I doubt I’d ever stop something cold turkey. Instead, I’ve looked at where I went ham and where I did well and have developed a plan to do better and maximize my coins.

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