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Are you thinking of giving the no-spend year challenge a go? No matter if you are a die-hard minimalist or simply want to get out of your current financial struggles, this “experiment” will certainly have a lasting positive impact on your life.

This guide is about the no-spend year challenge’s benefits, dos & dont’s

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How many times have you found yourself sitting in from of your wardrobe, staring at your brand new purchases with buyer’s remorse washing over you? Even though absolutely beautiful, did I really need 5 new sustainable affordable linen dresses for my week-long vacation? Think about how much you spend in a month on non-necessities — take-out food, smoothies, espressos, that new lippy from the vegan makeup brand you discovered last night. Now add all those expenses over the course of an entire year. 

Wouldn’t be fantastic if all the money you’ve spent on impulse purchases could magically re-appear in your savings account? Because, actually, there is a fantastic way to slow down the drain on your savings account, tackle your credit card debt, and finally get on top of your financial situation. Enter: No-spend year —or, no-buy year.

What is a no-spend year?

Basically, a no-spend year is a commitment to not spending any money on unnecessary items for a whole year. This includes all non-essential spending like take-out food, clothing, and decor. This way you’ll start purchasing with a goal in mind which will help save money, get out of debt and improve your overall financial situation. 

How do you stick to a no-buy year?

You can start by setting clear goals for your no-spend year challenge and keep reminding yourself of the reasons for your commitment. Make an in-depth list of all the essentials you need and eliminate all temptations by unsubscribing from newsletters. Join support and accountability groups online to keep yourself on track and let your friends and family know that you will not be accepting any gifts or small purchases this year.

This post is about the 2022 no-spend year challenge  

The benefits of a no-spend year

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Minimalists all over the world have been raving about the benefits of a no-spend year for quite some time. Granted, spending no money on non-essential items for a year may seem like a big challenge to take on, but the perks are many!

A no-spend year will help you save A LOT of money

As it turns out, going on a year-long shopping detox will help you save a lot of money and help you focus on your financial future. Maybe, you are ready to finally pay off debt, challenge yourself to reset your spending habits or save for your future plans. If you don’t spend your hard-earned money on unnecessary items, you’ll have more to put into savings, your retirement account. The no-spend year challenge can also help you prepare for an important investment, such as buying a house or car all while working on your biggest financial weaknesses: shopping, duh.

Put your time and energy into new things

Aside from saving you money, you’ll also likely notice that the no-spend year resolution saves you a lot of time. We often don’t realize how much time and mental energy we dedicate to shopping until we stop doing it. You can free up time for a new hobby, or that side hustle you’ve been meaning to get into.

Think of how much time you spend scrolling through listings, comparing prices, or aimlessly strolling the isles of the shopping mall with no specific “target” in mind. Exactly! You’ll quickly notice that instead of shopping, you’ll find yourself decluttering, donating, and recycling your previous impulse purchases that currently clutter your home.

A non-spend year is sustainable and eco-friendly

We also can’t forget about the sustainability aspect – even if you are opting for sustainable fashionorganic skincare, and eco-conscious splurges, it takes a lot of resources to produce new products and once we’re done using them, they also often take a long time to biodegrade. By skipping unnecessary purchases, we’re avoiding using these resources on things we don’t need. 

A limit put on decorative items like heavenly-scented non-toxic candles, will “force” you to run through what you already have before you go ahead and purchase a brand new product. This will lead to much less waste.

A no-spend year will help you identify the true reasons behind your shopping tendencies

Especially if you are someone who constantly finds herself shopping or browsing on impulse, then a no-spend year will help you identify the root of the issue. The phycology behind why we shop is pretty fascinating. As Psychologist Daniel Kahneman explains it, shopping is often linked to feelings of happiness. However, the word happiness is pretty problematic because it can have two completely different meanings. And both of them describe different sources of happiness.

  • Momentary pleasure — one of the most prominent reasons behind the psychology of why we shop — describes the happiness someone might feel each time they opt for a brand new piece of clothing, buy the newest release from a beauty, etc. However, the feeling is very temporary and thus, it needs to constantly be fueled by new purchases.
  • The second source is life satisfaction — long-time goals we often set to bring us satisfaction-driven happiness. If someone is a luxury fashion enthusiast, owning a Hermes bag will fill them up with satisfaction-driven happiness. 

It may seem “deep”, but this is perhaps one of the most important and life-changing benefits of a no-spend year.

Find your why

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Knowing about the different benefits of choosing to live a year in a no-spend way, why will you be taking on this resolution? Throughout the year, times may get hard and you may feel like you don’t want to keep going – a clear motive behind your action will make it less tempting to quit.

So, what’s your motivation? Is it the prospect of saving up for a new house? The desire to start a small online store? Your worries about the future of our planet? Perhaps, you want to help yourself stay away from habits that drive you to financial destruction? Everyone has a different reason to start the no-spend year challenge – and that’s what makes it fantastic.

Set the rules for your no-spend year challenge

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Once you’ve decided why you’ll be committing to a no-spend year, it’s important to figure out what the rules you set for yourself will be. We all have different things in our lives that constitute necessities, so this will vary from person to person. For example, someone working as a hairdresser will have different necessities for their job than somebody who’s a teacher. The no-spend year challenge is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. All you have to do is keep documenting your purchases to avoid financial clutter.

Here is a generic example you may want to adjust to your specific needs.

Things you’ll be allowed to buy:

  • Food
  • Toiletries and other consumable items
  • Replacement beauty or skincare products
  • Replacements for broken or lost items
  • Vacations and trips
  • Birthday, holiday, and special-occasion presents – maybe opt for used goods, home-made presents, and locally-made products 

You may, on the other hand, decide to skip these unnecessary items:

  • Clothing
  • Books
  • Restaurant visits and takeout food – maybe limit yourself to once a month if necessary.
  • Furniture and décor
  • Unnecessary gifts

As we mentioned before, some of these may vary based on your lifestyle and the needs of the people you live with. For example, parents of young children will need to buy organic kids clothing as the child grows up – or some eco-friendly toys. Don’t torment yourself of feel guilty when unexpected purchases pop up. 

It’s important to remember that while you have chosen the sustainable resolution of a no-spend year, not everyone will be on board – don’t let this get you down. Of course, you can suggest the no-spend year idea to your friend, roommate, or partner, but even if they aren’t comfortable with doing it themselves, they can always help hold you accountable and offer encouragement. 

How to prepare for the no-spend year

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Keep yourself busy

As we mentioned before, you may find yourself with a surprising amount of time left after you stop shopping unnecessarily. Leaving this time free may tempt you to slip into your old habits, so we recommend that you choose a hobby to fill this time if you aren’t already dedicating it to a project that’s the reason behind your no-spend year resolution.

Avoid all temptations

If you are a regular online shopper, it’s crucial to eliminate temptations! You can start by removing yourself from all the newsletter lists you’ve been surprised to. Constantly receiving emails about new launching and splurge-worthy discount codes will only make your no-spend year challenge harder. 

The same applies to your favorite sustainable fashion influencers who constantly show new clothing hauls, zero-waste home product swaps, etc. No, that doesn’t mean that you have to unfollow everyone —simply limit how much time you spend on social media and skip the obvious haul videos.

No third-party purchases!

Make sure to discuss this with your friends, family, and partner to let them know that they no longer can buy things for you. 

Find your support system

Lastly, it’s important to have some form of an accountability system in place for your no-spend year challenge. Whether that will be your family or a group of strangers on the internet, we certainly recommend that you tell those who you’re closest with, so that they can support you on the journey rather than tempting you to spend unnecessarily. Maybe, you can join some Facebook groups to get in contact with like-minded people or even start frequenting the no-buy Reddit community.

This post was all about the no-spend year challenge

No matter if you are ready to join the no-spend year challenge or simply want to know some extra information before you commit to a minimalistic lifestyle, we hope of guide shed light on the benefits of this amazing financial detox. Sure, it’s not simple or easy, but if you are serious about changing your spending habits, getting on top of your financial issues, and start saving big, maybe it’s time to give the no-spend year a go!

If you liked this post, you’ll definitely want to check out these other posts from SKL:

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no spend year challenge
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no spend year challenge
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January 14, 2021

Written By:

Danielle Alvarado

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