3 Lessons I Learned From My First No-Spend Challenge

One of my biggest struggles in getting out of debt is my horrible habit of overspending. It’s terrible, I hate that I do it, but honestly it’s like binge eating – sometimes I just cannot stop.

So, when I heard that my YouTube friends Maria from Modern Budget Curl and Toni from Love Daring Greatly were doing a 30-Day No Spendtember challenge, I wanted in.

So, right now I’ll share with you my results for the No Spendtember Challenge and three lessons I learned from the experience.

First, My Results:

The goal of No Spendtember is to only spend money on the essentials, and typically that means: gas, groceries and bills.

Now, I wish that I could tell you that during all of No Spendtember I only spent money on those 3 things. But, unfortunately – I can’t!

Although I did very well during the first part of No Spendtember, somewhere between Week 1 and Week 2, I caught a terrible cold and that’s where things sort of fell apart.

Now, I wouldn’t say everything went completely to shit, but I was less strict toward the end than I was at the beginning of the month.

Pulling out this bad boy in the name of #NoSpendtember. Getting crunk before we see some local bands

A post shared by Broke Girl Rehab (@brokegirlrehab) on

For instance, even though I was supposed to meal prep for the entire month, there was one week where I only ate take out food because I was exhausted and did not feel like cooking. And, even though I was supposed to bike every day to work, there were days where I just could not do it so I either took the bus or took an Uber.

But, even through these “failures” I ended up surpassing my goal!

My goal was to put $350 into my emergency fund and I ended up putting $412.76 into that fund PLUS I added $100 to my Honey Home Fund that I share with Matt.

So that’s a total $512.76. Which is $512 more than I’ve been able to save all year!!

So, even though I cheated quite a few times and got terribly sick in the middle, I would call No Spendtember a success.

I’m really glad that I did the challenge and – because it was so successful – I’m planning on doing it again in January and then again during April because – looking at my progress reports – those are the months where I typically need the most help to curb my spending.

Now, let’s talk about the lessons I learned during No Spendtember:

First Lesson: Saving Money is Actually Not That Hard

Now, I say this even though I have a really hard time with saving money, but I realized that the main thing getting in the way of my savings is my own lack of mindfulness about spending.

For instance, I had an unplanned purchase of $200 because I bought plane tickets to go to FinCon this month.

But, even with that, I still surpassed my savings goal!

And I realized, it’s not those big $200 purchases that make me miss the mark, it’s those seemingly small $5 purchases or $15 that seem totally innocent, but over time they add up and take huge chunks out of your money.

One of our founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, I believe said it best: “Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.”

Second Lesson: Meal Prepping Is Still Not My Thing

It’s not.

Like, it really isn’t.

And, even though I knew that I was saving money by meal prepping, I hated every $%&*# second of it and I will never do it again.

To me, it is totally worth the money to save time and have weekends entirely to myself and eat delicious salads that were prepared by somebody else.

I’m sorry, but I’m just not the one.

Third Lesson: No-Spend Challenges Are Great For Raising Awareness About Frugality

I’ll try to explain what I mean by that.

So, where I live, in Southern California, it is very expensive to live.

And, unless you are an engineer or you work in medicine or tech – which a lot of people don’t – your salary barely covers the cost of living.

Now, there’s a few ways to get around this. For instance, a lot of people shack up. I share a 1-bedroom apartment with my fiancee, and I just saw a story on Reddit where one guy shared a one-bedroom apartment with 3 other roommates.

But, unfortunately, it also means that a lot of people – especially millennials and especially Gen Xers – those people are living in debt.

And, debt is something that is seen as normal.

Like, I talk to people and their plan is to pay off debt until they die.

So, when people ask me, “Hey, do you want to grab lunch,” or “Hey do you want to go out for dinner,” I instead tell them about my No-Spend Challenge which is a great opportunity to talk about debt.

And, people actually get encouraged and they say to me, “Man, maybe I should do a no spend challenge.”

And that is awesome!

Because, yes – I write about my story so I can help myself get out of debt, but part of the reason is so I can encourage other women like me to get out of debt and build wealth.

Because, let’s face it: debt is a trap and consumer culture is especially a trap.

So, if I can spread the message of frugality and help encourage others to be financially independent, then I think I’ve done a good job here on this planet.

So, that’s it for now – thank you so much for reading! And, until next time, I wish you progress and prosperity.

2 comments on “3 Lessons I Learned From My First No-Spend Challenge

  1. As much as I love the idea of meal prepping, I can’t really get into it either. Congrats on such a successful no spend month!

  2. I can meal prep for about 6 weeks. After that everything in my fridge makes me want to hurl. Glad to see that you were able to come out of September with more savings. Have you considered just putting more away up front, either to debt or in savings. I find it easier not to spend what I never see.

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