12 Lessons I Learned During a No Spend Challenge

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While I’m mostly pretty frugal when it comes to spending money, I’ve definitely had my moments of weakness!

New Chanel perfume? Haven’t had a treat in awhile! $250 later…

Look at those gorgeous Christian Dior heels, only $800 ON SALE *buys*

Drinks with friends at the local on Friday after a hard working week? Wouldn’t miss out on those!

Can’t start the morning without my favorite takeaway coffee, besides, what’s a tiny $5 a day? Which actually adds up to roughly an extra $1,300 a year!

Thankfully, I take surveys in my spare time that earn me free money that I can spend on my favorite daily drink – coffee! Getting paid to give my opinion means I don’t have to cut out my favorite daily indulgences. If you’re interested in doing the same, you can join one of my favorite survey sites, Survey Junkie for free and start earning too ๐Ÿ˜Š

๐ŸŒŸ Important: Once you’ve signed up don’t forget to confirm your email and complete your profile to instantly earn 100 points.

You’ll receive 25 points just for signing up!

We’re all human and have our moments of weakness with money.

Now I want to talk about my no spend challenge I started about a year ago, at the time of writing this. When I say no spend, I mean kissing goodbye my impulse splurges and nights out with my friends. I didn’t really think about how much these things were truly costing me.

I learnt 12 important lessons that I now want to share with you. But before we get stuck into it, I’ll talk a little bit about how and why I had to change my money mindset.

The Emptiness at My Corporate Job

I recall many years of unhappiness throughout my career. There were times where I dreaded going to work, hated being at work, came home miserable and unhappy and the cycle continued. The only thing that kept me there (aside from the pay and some fun work colleagues) was knowing that one day I would leave and work for myself.

I didn’t know exactly how that was going to happen, but I knew it would. Office life was never for me.

I’d often daydream about walking out the office doors for the last time and never return.

Fast forward some time and I decided to start this blog. And it makes me happy doing what I do every single day!

Filling The Void

While I have nothing against people who go to a traditional 9 to 5 job every day, I knew it wasn’t going to make me happy.

I have friends and family who love their jobs and I’m super happy for them!

But for me I knew I needed to find something not-so-traditional for myself. I just didn’t like working all those hours for someone else, office politics and the overall daily grind.

So I started searching for ways to make money from home to find my dream. I took this personality test a few times to learn more about myself and work out what I wanted. This really helped me to work out what path I wanted to take.

I didn’t have it all figured out yet. But I started to get excited seeing all the options there were to work from home.

Once I made the decision to pursue something outside of work so I could eventually escape, I decided to take saving and making extra money more seriously.

After all, if I was going to escape the daily grind I was so miserable in, I had to start thinking ahead.

I also knew there was going to be a pretty big learning experience coming my way!

To begin with I jumped onto Google and asked things like “how to quit your job and make money from home”. I searched high and low for ways that were going to suit me and my schedule the best.

Once I’d done some digging around I came to the realization that I could achieve these by:

  • Increasing my savings
  • Cutting my expenses
  • Increasing my earnings
  • Investing small amounts of money

Challenge Accepted!

To start with I decided to focus solely on my savings and challenged myself to not spend on non essentials for one month. Then, when that was a success, I increased it to 2 months, 3, 4 and now I’ve been doing this challenge for a year.

For me, non essentials are things like impulse splurges that make me happy for a day, it wears off, and becomes a vicious cycle! An example of this is setting out to buy what I actually need, like a new toaster, and coming home with WAY more. I’m sure we’ve all been there *cough* thanks Target ๐Ÿ™ˆ

I had to have invisible blinkers on every time I went to the mall to avoid temptation! Seriously, why don’t they make these for shoppers like me?

When I questioned why I spent money on things I didn’t need but thought I wanted, I came to this conclusion. I was simply trying to fill the void and unhappiness at my job. And that’s where my money woes came from.

Since taking this no spend challenge a year ago, these are the important lessons I’ve learned.

1. You Quickly Learn You Can Survive With Less

Saving money can take some getting used to when you’ve been doing a lot of unnecessary spending. I quickly came to realize that I didn’t need nearly as much as I thought I did.

I’d buy multiple versions of the same thing, like a handbag, that didn’t even get used. I would have my favorites and the others were forgotten about. Which just turned out to be a huge waste of money!

Then there were groceries. Cutting back on grocery items, which you probably hear about a lot, made me realize that I was spending way more than necessary on food.

One of the worst things you can do is go grocery shopping without a list!

So grab that Shopping List, write down exactly what you need and don’t buy anything outside of that list! No matter how much that chocolate bar is giving you the eyes, stay strong ๐Ÿ’ช

2. Productivity Increases

I wanted to leave my job so bad that once the idea got into my head, I had to make it happen! So I started thinking about ways to make money outside my job so I could get the hell outta there.

Given I had experience transcribing documents, I picked up a few online jobs and completed them at night. I also signed up for user research groups that would pay me $100 to $250 for my time. This was a fun way to help me earn outside my job, and do something different to what I was used to.

As well as the above I began reading more personal finance books to educate myself on managing my money.

Eventually I made the decision to start this blog, which I thought could be a fun way for readers to see how I save money, budget and earn in my spare time. Since I started I haven’t looked back! It’s been so rewarding and freeing helping others while I do something I absolutely love.

I’m happier and much more productive doing something that I actually like while making my own income, outside my job.

Personally, I love finding ways to make a living for myself that doesn’t involve a boss breathing down my neck!

3. Learn What Truly Matters To You

Life tends to get more interesting and clear when you’re trying not to spend. This is because you generally look for other ways to keep yourself busy.

For me, I started reading more, exercising more and spending more time with my family and friends. I’d go on walks, visit the library, have picnics and generally enjoy some stress-free time out.

No amount of money in the world can replace these moments and memories being made.

What is it that you prioritize?

4. Needs Vs Wants

When you start cutting back on your spending, you quickly work out what you need vs what you want.

If I saw something super cute and wanted to buy it, like a piece of jewelry, I would wait a week or two and see if I still wanted it. Most of the time I didn’t, which told me I didn’t really want it that bad.

I’m not saying you can’t shop and buy something you actually need. Especially if it’s something you have been saving for.

I just mean learning to walk away from temptation by waiting a couple of weeks to see how badly you want something, can really help you save. I learnt this pretty early on in my no spend challenge.

5. You Have More Self-Control Than You Think

This is an important one. Many of us believe we don’t have the willpower to do certain things in life. A lie that we tell ourselves maybe to protect us from failing.

Whether you’re trying to save money, pay off debt or try something new and out of your comfort zone. It’s important to trust yourself and believe you have what it takes to achieve the “impossible”.

The easiest way to achieve a big goal is with a plan. Before I started my no spend challenge I wrote out all my finances and personal goals on paper.

Doing this helped give me a clear vision of what I wanted out of my no spend challenge and put me in a good mindset. Ready to take on this new challenge.

A goal without a plan is just a wish

โ€” Antoine de Saint-Exupรฉry

6. Sales Keep You Poor

Sales aren’t all bad, and they have their place. But they can trick you into thinking you need more stuff purely because it’s on sale.

Again, it’s different if you’ve been saving for something you’ve needed for awhile and have been waiting for a discount. Just don’t fall into the trap of well it’s on sale so I should just get it!

I recommend taking surveys in your spare time to earn gift cards to then spend on the things you want ๐Ÿ˜‰

7. Achieving Financial Freedom Isn’t Out of Reach

While life is zooming past us, achieving our financial goals can feel impossible.

Something I’ve learnt over the past few years however, is that by investing my time wisely helps me achieve a lot more. I look back at where I started on my financial journey to where I am now, and I’m amazed at how far I’ve come!

There is of course still plenty to learn and I will continue to document my journey in more blog posts. Especially mistakes I’ve made along the way which I know my readers can relate to.

The most important thing is staying positive, motivated and determined to reach your goals. And it does get easier!

8. You Become More Grateful

Once I started seeing exactly where my money was going, by not spending it, I began to realize how fortunate I was.

I actually had money to put away for a holiday and fast-track paying off debt! With a little discipline and self control with my no spend challenge, I was able to put away hundreds of dollars that I wasn’t before.

I’d heard a lot about emergency funds but hadn’t started one myself. When I finally did I wished I had started a lot earlier. Seeing how much interest was accrued in my account was basically free money on top of my savings!

And if you haven’t yet got your emergency fund underway, I highly recommend starting sooner rather than later. Even if you only put small amounts into an interest accruing savings account to begin with, it’s better than doing nothing!

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9. Learn More About Who You Are

Sometimes in life we question who we are and what path we’re on.

Once I decided I didn’t want to spend my life working for someone else, I was super determined to educate myself in other ways so I could escape.

By taking a personality test, searching for the best ways to save and make extra income, I learnt more about myself and what I wanted in life.

And it eventually led me to starting my blog and personal finance journey which has helped me grow in a lot of positive ways.

10. More Time To Learn & Read

During a no spend challenge you tend to have more time on your hands. Given that you’re not going shopping and spending money, you find other ways to entertain yourself.

I used a lot of my spare time to read personal finance books, research ways to make money from home and do surveys.

Knowledge is power and although I’ve learnt a tonne over the past few years, I’m still learning more every day. Someone once said to me “the day you stop learning is the day you stop living”. And it stuck!

I love to learn and try new things totally out of my comfort zone. Doing things you wouldn’t normally do is where growth truly happens.

11. You Don’t Always Need Money To Have Fun

Spending money is fun, sure, but being broke is not!

I came to realize that I didn’t actually have to spend money to have a good time. When you look around you there is actually a lot of enjoyment to be had that doesn’t cost a thing.

There are the obvious activities like visits to the beach, cooking at home, working out with a friend, visiting the library and so on. Then there are things you might not have thought of like:

  • Catching up with people you haven’t seen in a long time, like a grandparent
  • Going to a community event
  • Start a hobby like drawing or painting
  • Visit a free museum in your local city
  • Picnic in the park
  • Visit national parks
  • Play board games with friends and family

Who said you needed to spend money to have a good time? There are so many more things you can find that are totally free and non-boring!

If you’re looking for FREE activities while you’re trying to save money, check out my post 10 FREE Things To Do During a No Spend Challenge.

12. Saving Money is Rewarding

The idea of breaking bad money habits and not spending can be a little intimidating to start with.

And if I’m honest, I didn’t think I’d be able to get through a no spend challenge myself. But once I mapped out my plan, used my time to make extra money and learn new things, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made!

It’s a good feeling knowing I’ve got money steadily accruing interest without me having to do anything.

On the whole, this no spend challenge forced me to get creative with preserving my money and earning more.

Examples of these were opening a savings account that accrued interest. And selling my transcription services on Fiverr as a part time gig.

I don’t know about you but I think it’s pretty cool to be able to make money on the side, outside of your job!


I genuinely hope these 12 lessons learned help to inspire you on your own personal finance journey.

Let me know when you start your own no spend challenge and how it goes! I love hearing from my readers about their journeys too. It’s motivating and inspiring to me ๐Ÿ™‚

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