Are you ready for a challenge this weekend? One that will test your ability to rise to the occasion when life happens? Yes? Then promise me you’ll keep reading to the end of the post. Promise? Good!
Don’t spend anything until Monday morning. Nothing. Not with cash. Not with debit or credit cards. Not even with gift cards. Spend nothing this weekend. Not. one. single. cent.
No putting gas in the car. No buying coffee at the coffee shop. No grabbing “just a couple of things” at the grocery store. No fast food on the way to the game or ice cream afterward. No going out to brunch after church. No spending until Monday.
Where is this coming from? A few months ago Jay and I were inspired by an idea over at Living Well Spending Less and set ourselves a month-long no-spend challenge. It was hard at times but a great learning experience that I would recommend to just about everyone.
It also felt artificial. Most people have bills to pay or other things that must be taken care of in the course of a month, and those things require “exceptions” to a month-long challenge. (Go read about it at Living Well Spending Less if you want more details.) However, life often presents unexpected expenses like car repairs or medical co-pays that might force us to make it through a few days until the next pay check without spending money.
As a side note, Jay & I do have an emergency fund (so don’t worry!), but the majority of people in our country live paycheck-to-paycheck. An unexpected bill of a couple thousand (or even a few hundred) dollars could be disastrous for them. So I think this challenge is very timely.
So back to the No Spend Weekend Challenge. What do you do if your gas tank is nearly empty? If you have more than one car you might plan your travel accordingly using the available gas in the available vehicle. Otherwise you stay home and hang out with your family.
Need snacks for the team? Pull out a muffin recipe and bake! Or go through the cabinets and see what you have. And while you’re at it, you may want to pack some snacks or a picnic lunch to take to the game with you. Fill up some freezer-safe water bottles half way and stick them in the freezer tonight, then pull them out and top them off with water tomorrow. They’ll stay cold longer.
my your morning coffee? Make it at home, of course. If you like specialty drinks a quick internet search will turn up lots of recipes. You might put a capful of vanilla in the grounds before you turn on the coffee maker; or maybe add a generous squeeze of chocolate syrup or a packet of hot cocoa mix to turn your cup’o’joe into a mocha treat.
Whenever you’re tempted to spend just think about what you’d do if you didn’t have cash or a card to use. Pretend there is absolutely no way…what would you do instead? Then on Sunday evening take a few minutes to go back over the weekend and think about what you might do differently to be a little better prepared in case you really were forced to stop spending for a few days. You may even decide to make some of your spending cuts permanent and use the money for something important to you, like starting an emergency fund or adding to the kids’ college funds or saving up for a special trip.
During our month-long spending freeze we were able to put some money into savings. I discovered I had some holes in my pantry. I learned I needed to do a better job of keeping gas in my car rather than letting it run down to fumes. And I found new ways of making coffee!
Please let me know if you took the challenge, how you did, and what you learned!
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