If you have ever had an over-spending-hangover, then you’re going to LOVE this post.
Whether you're recovering from the holidays, spring break, or planning an EPIC summer vacay, this will help you save you a LOT of money in a very short period of time.
Introducing The 6-day Savings Challenge: “6 Days to Build your Vacation/Savings/Project Fund”
Other people on the interwebs call it a No-spend Challenge or a Spending Freeze.
What is it:
The basic idea is that you go a period of time without spending any money. Of course, pay your bills, but other than that: nada.
The amount of time can vary per person, but the actions are the same.
If you are like me you may have all sorts of hesitations about signing up for such a crazy idea.
I mean. Really. How would I manage my family of SEVEN without spending money?
People have to eat y’all! And especially my kids, who I swear, turn into locusts and clear the kitchen of all edible-ness when they’re home. Not to mention everything else that supports a large family’s survival and comfort.
I was extremely skeptical.
In Money-Organized-land we like to keep things practical so that we have a greater chance of actually maintaining healthy habits for the long term. We are not into quick fixes that fade fast or money diets that starve the soul. Nope. No time for that.
If I’m going to make the effort to plan and implement something with 5 kids then it BETTER well give me the promised result or it’s going into the trash heap of bad advice.
Will it work?
When my friend first proposed the idea to me I was stunned that I had never heard of it. So I did what I always do when presented with a new “project”, I hunted for every conceivable reason why it wouldn’t work for MY family (so I wouldn’t have to implement it).
And what I found instead was some amazingly insightful and thought provoking perspectives on why giving yourself permission to not spend money unlocked a whole universe of possibilities for living life on your terms. Now THAT was something I could jump on the band-wagon about.
You can read this series by one of my all-time favorite bloggers, Cait Flanders, that inspired me to dig in and implement it in our family.
She did a two-year “Shopping Ban” and purged a gazillion pounds of her belongings to create a life that was easier to live and maintain.
After reading her experience I thought, “Ok. I can give it a month. 30 days. And I’ll save all that money to pay off Christmas.”
You gotta have accountability
Another bonus, which turned out to be absolutely necessary, was having accountability. I was in a whole group of others who had decided to jump in and do it too. It wasn’t just me, by myself, telling my girlfriends No when they wanted to go to lunch. It was me and a whole tribe of moms collectively saying “No” to all the voices that want us to empty our purses.
We shared ideas, offered support, and knew we would be reporting on how we did at the end. It motivated me to really dig in and figure this out. No laziness or excuses here. I had to show up.
So I did. And my kids did. And my husband did.
The family's response
The kids did not go quietly, though. They were floored when I axed their spring sports and cut lunch money off at the source. They were frantic when I didn’t replenish the pantry after their raids and learned the meaning of “Eat an apple for snack-time”.
But after a few weeks they got used to the idea and even reminded each other of the Challenge as needed.
For me, going to the grocery store was easier. Trips were shorter. I learned to ignore, then not care, about advertised sales or the big cardboard banners that seemed to jump out at me every time I turned the corner announcing a “special” deal.
If it’s so “special” how come those same signs were used last month? It’s like that theme from The Incredibles: When everyone is special. No one is.
When there’s always a Deal, it’s not really a deal. Especially for our bank accounts.
My break-through moment...
The real clincher happened about two weeks into the Challenge. I had popped into Target to hunt for a particular item for a child’s birthday. I bypassed the dollar/$3 bins at the front of the store without a twinge of regret. (That’s HUGE people).
And then I passed through the children’s clothing section. NewsFlash: I lovelovelove Target’s children’s clothing lines. And there perched above all the racks were big banner signs announcing this deal and that special. They were big. They were red. They were over my favorite stuff.
And I. Did. Not. Care.
No panicked brain response shouting. “Wait!!! Go Back!!! You Missed It! What are you @#^$@ DOING?!?!”
Guilt, Regret, Fear of Missing Out, they were all gone.
It was as if the part of my brain that was inhabited by these creatures of spend-itis and you’re-not-good-enough-without-it had been scrubbed clean, disinfected, sterilized.
And I walked on.
I didn’t find what I was looking for. So I left empty-handed. And I couldn’t have cared less.
THAT is the power of doing a Savings Challenge:
To return your brain to its rightful steward: You.
It doesn’t belong to marketers anymore. It is yours, to choose what will support you and your goals and what will not.
So what were my results?
At the end of 30 days I had cut spending in ONE budget category by $600. No joke. I was stunned. And that was only one category. Overall we saved over $1000 in one month. And no, that is not fuzzy math or counting something twice.
Now, I know what I would be thinking right now. “Well, you obviously had a lot of waste in your budget if you could save that much.” “We don’t spend money on lifestyle extras so it wouldn’t work.” “You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip.”
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I get it.
Because I had the same thoughts when my friend first suggested the idea.
In our family:
- We are not conspicuous spenders.
- We don’t have cable or dish.
- We use public tv only.
- We don’t have huge cell phone plans and super fast internet.
- We rarely (read 1x/mo, or less) go out to eat.
- Our children are not involved in lots of activities.
- I don’t buy clothes. Like, Ever. #hand-me-downs
- We don’t leave lights on, leave the water running, or turn the furnace up and the a/c down.
- We use extra blankets, cook in a crock-pot, drink water from the tap, buy generic brands, and make meals from scratch.
We don’t do ANY of the things that “experts” are always telling us to cut out of our lives to stay within budget so we can save money, invest in the future, and retire at 65 (having never had any fun or a real vacation in our lives…!!) (Are you with me on this?!?)
I got so tired of the pandering and no-solution solutions that people blather about that I kind of just stopped listening.
It was into this morass of hopelessness that my friend suggested the Challenge. And that’s why I went hunting for all the reasons why it wouldn’t work for MY family.
But it still worked. Somehow, in the hairline fractures of our budget there was an extra $1000 lurking. And doing this brought it to light. It was hiding in the little things that we did throughout our normal living.
My biggest takeaway:
Don’t underestimate the power of the subliminal marketing message to separate you from your hard-earned cash.
My second biggest takeaway:
There is ALWAYS more money to be found in the nooks and crannies of living.
And I’m going to SHOW you how to do it.
I’m hosting a short version of the Challenge in my private Facebook Group: Get My Money Organized for Free.
It will be 6 days of daily education from me and small action on your part. And I’ll be live in the group Monday through Friday of the Challenge to answer questions about the information and assignment.
By the end of the 6 days you'll know how to do a Challenge successfully, without deprivation. And you'll have all the tools you need to do it again yourself, whenever you need a quick recovery from over-doing it.
I promise it won’t be anything crazy. I’m not here to make your life More complicated.
I’ll be cutting up the process into bite-size pieces that even a 6 month old with one tooth can swallow.
I hope you'll join us and get your awesome Mom boots on to stomp out FOMO from your life. Oh, and you’ll be building that Vacation/Savings/Pinterest-Project Fund in no time!