No spend challenge?!


Broke Millennial’s No-Spend Challenge

I’m going to level with you. I have been overspending. A LOT. It’s been a mixture of reasons, including getting married and starting to merge our finances. Suddenly, I’m on a much stricter budget than I was before because it’s not just me now. I have Peach’s student loans to consider (which we’re paying off very aggressively) and we’re putting a lot away each month for our honeymoon as well as other savings goals. We each get a discretionary spending budget each month, but I’m frankly used to spending more than that sum. It has been a real struggle for me to scale back on the lifestyle I’ve been used to living. Oh, and now we’re moving in March, which is four months earlier than we expected and had been budgeting for. Suffice to say, I need to do something to recalibrate. Savings needs to go into hyper-drive while spending needs to get reined in.

The rules

Non-essential spending is going to be different for all of us. We all need to pay our bills (rent/mortgage, student loans, cell phone, insurance etc), so there will of course be some spending! But that’s essential spending. Then you can start to split hairs over what counts as essential. For example, Peach and I use a laundry service each week because it saves us about two hours of time on the weekends (NYC living means no washer/dryer in our apartment). I will still be using the laundry service during this month because my time is the more valuable asset.

You also need to consider the implications on your social/professional life. As many of you know, I’m a New Yorker and my social life catching up with friends and even networking often revolves around going out for drinks or dinner. For that reason, I’m adding a caveat for $25 per week that can be spent on networking-only socialization. My friends will be accommodating to just do free things for a month. Plus, it forces me to be super frugal and creative again like back in my early, super broke New York days! 

Tracking Every Penny budgeting style is outlined in my first book Broke Millennial. It means you write down every purchase you make. Not just how much you spent, but also what you spent it on. This will allow you to go back through and audit your purchases to see if everything is truly essential and keep tabs on how much you’re spending during the challenge. (Normally this budget helps you identify patterns of mindless spending.) The easiest way to do this is just keeping tabs in notes on your phone. But you could also save receipts and write it in a spreadsheet at the end of the day or week. Just looking back at credit card or debit card statements can be tough because you don’t always know what you purchased.


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