Changing your financial mindset is easier said than done. But it can help to try and have a bit of fun with the distinctly not fun activity of budgeting.
If you've found yourself over-budget this summer and you're looking for some motivation to kick off saving, then enter the August No Spend Challenge!
What is the August No Spend Challenge?
The August No Spend Challenge is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin. It's a challenge where you try not to spend any money on non-essential purchases for the entire month of August.
That's 31 days where your goal is to rein in how much money you are spending on things you don’t really need. By drastically cutting frivolous spending you will not only save a load of money but will also realise how much you spend on unnecessary things.
The challenge can help you quickly save a lot of money in the space of a single pay check. You can use your savings to build up your financial safety net or work towards a bigger savings goal, like a holiday.
How do you do the August No Spend Challenge?
There’s a difference between things you need to spend money on and the things you want to spend money on. Rent and food? Yes. A coffee on the way in to work to wake you up after you kept clicking ‘next episode’ on Netflix last night, and there’s coffee in the office that’s free? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but no.
The August No Spend Challenge is all about putting a stop to your non-essential purchases, therefore making your money go much further on things that actually matter. For a No Spend Challenge, the only thing you can spend money on is basically:
After paying your rent, set a budget for your grocery spend. The lower you can go the better as there’s little point trying to save small amounts here and there if you’re splurging on weekly groceries. An average weekly spend for one person of between £30-£40 would be a good target.
Apart from your groceries, rent and utility bills, no money should leave your account. Make coffee in the morning before work, take your lunch in with you, no takeaways when you can’t be bothered to cook in the evening. Self-restraint and taking the time to plan meals (and your life) better is the name of the game.
Does spending on travel count as an essential purchase?
Let’s be realistic, if your commute involves an hour-long train or bus journey it’s unlikely you’re going to be able to reduce this spend. However, maybe you can alter or shorten your journey and walk part of the distance if that would reduce costs. If you live a walkable or bike-able journey to work, it’s time to get your trainers out and get used to a month of early wake-up calls.
We know it’s hard, but there’s a reason it’s called the No Spend Challenge!
If I spend money, is the challenge over?
No! I mean, yes, you’ve technically failed, but it’s a massive jump to go from spending without much thought at all to not spending at all. Obviously start with the best intention of completing the task with a full thirty days of no spending, but we all have moments of weakness and may not be able to sit through a trip to the pub drinking pint after pint of tap water.
If you start to slip up, maybe set a number of goal days that you will not spend money on. This is also a way to ramp up to a full-on No Spend Challenge. Maybe start by trying to not spend unnecessarily for 15 days into August, then go up to 20 the next and then try the entire month. Figure out what works for you and what will be a workable adjustment from your regular spending habits.
Use Monzo Pots to help you complete the challenge
Using the Pots feature on the Monzo app helps you section money off into different spending areas, helping you to keep track of where your money is going. In the example of our challenge you’d portion out your pay check into four categories: Rent, bills, groceries and DO NOT SPEND.
After your rent and bills go out of your account, you can set up your grocery pot to transfer funds to your main account weekly for you to use. Money that is in pots doesn’t show up on your available balance and so this helps you not dip into next week’s budget. However, if you need your money in an emergency you can transfer money out of pots instantly.
If you really want to commit to the challenge, though, lock your pots
If you think you might find it hard to resist the temptation to spend money, you can lock your pots to help you stick to the challenge.
Locked pots are just like normal pots, except you set a date before which you can’t access the money in that particular pot.
We know it’s hard, and we all need a treat or pick-me-up every so often. But setting yourself a challenge for a short period of time can help you boost your progress towards something you really want and understand all the little places where you’re spending money without thinking. Sometimes all you need is a little help to achieve your saving goals!