30-Day No-Spend Challenge: Week 1

We’re 12 days in and still going strong. Here at Stnce, our team members took part in the challenge and discovered a few things about their spending habits. This is what they had to say:

“I actually started meal prepping before the challenge officially started because I wanted to get used to doing it. So far, the biggest obstacle for me has been making the time. Although meal prepping has made it easier to put dinner together for my family in the evenings, I have to allow at least 5-10 minutes in the morning and a few hours on the weekend to get things ready.

I’ve found that planning so far in advance means that I have to let go of convenience and impulse purchases. It’s pushed me to base my decisions on more rational reasons rather than how I feel. And I’ve realized, my husband and daughter benefit a lot from meal prepping because we can eat healthier and have more control over what goes into our food. Sometimes it’s tempting to go out and get lunch, especially when my coworkers order delivery. But I’m getting used to the habit and the consciousness of sticking to the plan.

Of course, there’s also moments I can’t account for, like when I forgot my lunch in the car last week. Beyond food and groceries, I decided to go second hand. I’m expecting my second child in a few months, so I’ve been searching the Facebook buy and sell groups for clothing and gear. For myself, I’m not big into shopping to begin with but having that $20 a week buffer really helps. It’s like a reward for putting so much effort into saving.” – Marie
 

 


 

“Well, to be honest, it’s made me realize that I’m no good at commitment. Because I’m told I can’t, I want to spend even more. I sit beside Marie. And when I see her come in with her packed lunches, it reminds me of the fact that if I just took a little more time to prepare the night before, I’d be able to save a lot more money. But then again, I have a habit of going home, turning on Netflix, and consciously deciding not to multi-task. I always tell myself, “Yana, why can’t you do stuff at the same time.”

Actually, I read a study once that said if you tell people you’re going to do something, it will make you feel like you’ve already done it and take away from your commitment to follow it through. That’s kind of how it’s been going for me. When I go out, I feel like ordering as much as I want because the pressure is off, and people already think I’m doing a good thing. When I’m at work, I have been going to the grocery store to buy food for lunch. And avoiding all packaged goods.

I think overall, life got in the way of spending considerably less. Because if I went out the night before, I would be tired the next day, and would crave a coffee or something to give me a boost. I’m still trying to cut back. But I think I’m more comfortable with substitution than going without.” – Yana

 


“I think I’m doing really well! My lifestyle doesn’t have a routine or schedule, and I often make plans at the last minute. Having to be more conscious of how often I get coffee and decide whether I should get dessert, or a second drink has been really helpful. During the week, I would limit my coffee budget which meant I had to decide whether to start my day at 9:00 or get a pick-me-up at 12:00. When I went out, I would ask for the dessert menu before the meal began so that I could plan what I wanted upfront and not get tempted to splurge on a caramel chocolate cheesecake that I hadn’t known about.

Since the team’s been taking on the challenge together, I’ve found that it encourages me to bring lunches, avoid online shopping, and find free activities. It made me feel good to report my successes and cheer them on as well. So, maybe this type of challenge is better with friends? It definitely helped me stay on track.

The challenge also inspired me to do some thinking. Maybe I’m not saving enough. Maybe I think I’m good at saving up for future me but in reality, I’m living beyond my means. So, I reached out to a financial planner for an initial consultation. Just talking about my situation, let alone taking action, made me realize that I need to come up with a better plan for myself. I haven’t made any changes yet, but I think this no-spending thing has started something.” – Cara

 

As told to Cara Lau. Illustration by Yana Vorontsov. We make taking financial ownership approachable and relatable.