Life can get expensive. You buy that top-up shop, you snap up that bargain dress, you throw that three-for-two offer into your shopping basket. It all adds up. So to try and contain my (almost constant) spending, I decided to experiment with a series of no-spend days. But I’m not entirely convinced by the no-spend-day concept. Here, I explain:
My life as a money saver
As you’re probably aware, I like a bargain and I’m more than happy to spend money on the things that I value.
I also enjoy socialising and buying things that bring me happiness, so I will happily snap up a bargain if it fits that bill. But just because something is a bargain, doesn’t mean that you should always buy it and there is such a thing as over shopping. It’s also a case of old habits dying hard with me. I used to spend beyond my means and I was an over spender for the bulk of my twenties.
I believe that we all occasionally need a reality check, something that makes us face our own lifestyle creep. So in an attempt to bring myself back in line and to curb my bargain buying, I decided to try a series of no-spend days, to see if they stopped me in my spending tracks.
What is a no-spend day?
A no-spend day is a concept I heard about within the online money-saving community. People rave about how useful they are. The idea is that you spend 24 hours without spending anything. There are no rules set in concrete though, so it’s up to the individual to make them. Some people try not to spend anything at all, but others will allow for bills and other fixed costs.
I have tried various no-spend-day challenges, but I don’t enjoy them. Nor do I find any real value in them. Here’s why:
1) They’re annoying if you’re disorganised
It is irritating not being able to spend money when you need to. “Oh we could do with some milk, but it’s a no-spend day, so I can’t buy any today.”.
Yes, you can try to be organised, but I’m not always, which makes no-spend days an annoyance.
2) What’s the point?
What is the point of not getting a loaf of bread, because you’re on a no-spend day, when you know you’ll need it tomorrow? It just seems like a pointless exercise to me.
3) They make life feel like a slog
Something I can’t do. Another restriction. No, I can’t be bothered with that. I don’t like not being able to do things, it can make the day feel like a bit of a slog and life is too short to count down the day.
4) You’re contently thinking about money
For me, the best thing about budgeting is that I do it and then I forget about it. With no-spend days, I found that I was constantly thinking about cash and I didn’t like it. If you need a hand planning your finances, then check out my free budget planner.
5) It’s not a game I enjoyed
I like to turn my finances into a game. I do this because I find finances a bit dry, so I like to add in some fun. For that reason, I love the 1p challenge and I use Monzo and IFTTT to save cash. No-spend days aren’t fun, they’re a chore and I have enough of those on my to-do list!
6) We need to spend to live
Shopping and spending is a part of most peoples’ lives (unless you’re one of the few people that lives truly sustainably). That means that there are certain things in life that we have to spend money on. It’s life.
7) There are better ways
Although some people seem to get a lot out of no-spend days, they’re not my thing. I personally think there are much better ways to save money.
I realise that I have slated the no-spend day concept and it’s safe to say that this is not a hack that I’d promote to others. But no-spend days did make me take a closer look at my spending. They made me think about what I planned to eat before I left the house, they stopped me (at least temporarily) from making impulse purchases and overall they probably did save me some cash. But I won’t actively try to have a day where I don’t spend any cash again. Of course, sometimes a no-spend day naturally occurs and hoorah to that, but making myself have a day where I can’t spend a penny just feels unnecessary.
I suppose the no-spend day concept highlights that you have to find your own path. Some people have had loads of success with no-spend days. I’m not one of them and I think they’re more hassle than they’re worth. If you decide to give this challenge a go, then I hope you find this tool more useful than I did.