Monthly Money Challenge: No-Spend January

Monthly Money Challenge - No Spend January
No-Spend January Pin

I’ve decided to experiment a bit this year by committing to a different money challenge each month. To hold myself accountable I’ll be sharing my process and progress with you! 

Coming off the spending binge that is December, I thought January would be a great opportunity to reconnect with our priorities by challenging myself to a no-spend month.

I love the holidays, with all the fun of decorating, celebrating, feasting and finding the perfect gifts. But it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of consumerism and leave your budget behind.

We did pretty well sticking to our spending plan, but we had a few expenses I hadn’t planned for (I’m looking at you massive shipping costs). 

If you want to join in and start this year off right, here’s the low down on my January no-spend challenge.

What’s the Purpose of a No-Spend Challenge?

You can only really master your money when you’re being intentional with it, so my goal with this challenge is to do just that. I want to start this year off right by re-aligning my spending to our family’s values and making every purchase a purposeful one.

This month, there’s also the added motivation of not knowing when we’ll be seeing another paycheck.

Mr. GFB is a federal employee and, for yet another year, our paycheck is being withheld until they decide to fund the government. Thankfully, we’re in a much better place than we were last year, but it does add an extra layer of motivation for sticking to this no-spend challenge.

The Basics of a No-Spend Challenge

While it’s called a no-spend challenge, I won’t actually refrain from spending any money. We still have to eat and pay the bills. But my intent is to not spend outside of necessities.

So no eating out, no new apps, no new Apple Watch (I’ve waited this long, what’s another month…), no going out to movies. You get the idea.

What Can I Spend On?

As I mentioned, groceries and bills are the big exceptions. We all need to eat and make good on our obligations.

Even though you can spend on groceries, a no-spend challenge is a great opportunity to try to reduce your bill by focusing on only buying the essentials.

My goal is to make a weekly meal plan and buy only the ingredients we’ll need. I’ve had some success avoiding unnecessary and impulsive purchases by shopping online for store pickup. So that will be part of my strategy this month as well.

You could also try to cut back on your bills by canceling monthly subscriptions, assuming you’re willing to go without them. In my case, this means deciding if we can go the month without Netflix (nope) and Spotify (probably).

Since I don’t really feel like dealing with the hassel of canceling and re-subscribing, I’m going to treat current subscriptions just like any other bill.

Can I Spend With Gift Cards?

I’ve used gift cards as a loop-hole for previous attempts at no-spend challenges, and I think I could go either way on these.

Previously, I was only trying to save money, so the ability to use a gift card did help me stick to that goal. Using gift cards as a loophole meant I didn’t have to feel deprived if I absolutely “needed” that Baja Blast to keep me going.

If a situation comes up that I just can’t say no to, I would rather use a gift card than actual cash from my budget.

I don’t want to lose sight of my bigger goal with this challenge though. I’m trying to adjust my mindset so that even gift cards are spent according to our values and not just our momentary desires.

For this challenge, I’m going to try to avoid using gift cards, but not completely rule them out.

Looking Ahead

I’m approaching this January challenge like a jump-start to the new year. Hopefully it’s something that can motivate and encourage you whether you join in or not. 

I’ve added a tracking calendar to the sidebar so you can always come back to the site and see how I’m doing.

I’m hoping by tackling a new money challenge each month I can not only keep focused on our financial goals, but also to motivate you to try something new to help you master your finances. 

Let me know if you’re going to join in on this month’s no-spend challenge or if you have any other ideas for a fun monthly money challenge!

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