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Are You Up for a “No Spend Challenge?”


By Heidi Huiskamp, Founder and CEO of Huiskamp Collins Investments, LLC


I know, I know. It’s January and all those holiday purchases that seemed so smart and so right for all of those on your gift list are now coming back to haunt you with the dreaded bills in the mail. You tell yourself every year that this time it will be different…but the excitement of the season derails the best of us. This January, maybe the answer is getting back on track with a “No Spend Challenge.” t’s not easy by a mile, but it’s a powerful way to juice your savings and introduce some more positive habits into your spending.

What is a “No Spend Challenge” anyway?  Simply put, it’s a competition you set for yourself to avoid unnecessary spending on “wants” for a certain period of time (a day, a week or a month, for instance) or until you reach a dollar savings goal (like a $1,000). Needs like food, gas, and monthly bills are okay to pay, but wants like shopping (in-person and online), eating out, coffee shop coffee, bottled water, etc. are out for the duration of the challenge.

There are a few crucial things to remember. First of all, have a clear purpose when you start your “dare” with yourself. Do you want to pay off a credit card?  Bulk up an emergency fund?  Save for a vacation?  Always have a goal in mind that you can focus on when temptation flickers (it will). Put a clear reminder for yourself of your purpose on your bathroom mirror: that credit card statement, a picture of what you think financial freedom would look like, a beautiful sunny beach where you dream of spending a week. Visuals are commanding and persuasive and can get you over the hump when you’re feeling weak.

Also, if you’re a “newbie” and this is your first time taking a challenge, set yourself up for success. A month or even a week may be too much for your first rodeo: how about a weekend challenge to break you in?  Also, timing is important. Don’t set your challenge for a time when there is a birthday, wedding, holiday, or other time when it’s a given that you’ll spend money. Prepare for your challenge by prepping meals a day in advance, buying coffee to brew at home, and digging out one of the dozen water bottles that are in the back of your cupboard to transport your water for your days. You might also want to think about filling your gas tank in advance to take away the temptation of filling up and then popping in the c-store for a drink and a snack. Again, putting aside all temptations will help you succeed. That might mean pre-planning of fun free activities for your challenge days like a hike, a picnic (food from home, please), a bike ride, a trip to the library, or a free day at a museum or botanical center. Check your local library for a list of great free activities they offer and also your local park board. During the summer, lots of libraries and cities offer free family movies.

Also prevent, to the best or your abilities, those evil shopping temptations when we’re bored or feeling lonely or emotional. Delete the shopping apps on your phone, delete auto shopping texts and cut back on your social media consumption if you’re one for clicking on online ads. Look, I know you’re going to feel tempted. Keep a journal. Every time you feel like buying something, write it down and what you’re feeling at that moment. Tell yourself the challenge will end at some point and you’ll go back to it. I’d wager money that when you do go back to it after the challenge is over, you won’t feel nearly as compelled that you “have to have” that item and will learn a lot about yourself and your spending by your notes on your emotional temperature when you were feeling tempted. That will help you build better spending habits in the future.

Lastly, tell everyone you know that you have set a spending challenge for yourself. Announce it on social media. Being accountable and the perceived peer pressure (who wants to admit to the world they weren’t able to hold themselves to task?) will take you far. When you are successful, proclaim it to everyone and buy yourself a symbolic reward like a small candle, your favorite candy bar, or some other treat. On the other hand, if you fail, cut yourself some slack. Think about what tripped you up and then try, try again.


     Would you like to talk about spending, money management ,or investing?  I would love to help!  Please email riane@hhcinvestments.net or call 563-949-4705.


              Securities offered through J.W. Cole Financial, Inc. (JWC) Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through J.W. Cole Advisors, Inc. (JWCA). Huiskamp Collins Investments, LLC and JWC/JWCA are unaffiliated entities.