No Spend Challenge…Is It Really Worth It?

by Sean Bryant on January 17, 2013

How many times have you sat around listening to your friends tell you that they are going to quit doing something cold turkey? I am going to go out on a limb and say probably quite often. At some point, we have all probably been on a kick where we wanted to completely give up pop, cut carbs out of our diet or just stop spending over $2.00 on a small cup of coffee at Starbucks. While we can probably manage to hold out for a short amount of time it usually never lasts.

Let’s put this into more of a financial perspective. Given that it’s the first part of the year, a lot of us are looking to make changes to the way we spend money. We’re looking for areas in our budgets that we can cut out in order to either pay down debt or increase our savings. Some people like to take a drastic approach and completely cut things out in order to save money. Personally, I find that to be counter-productive.

Hypothetically, let’s say that I am trying to reduce my spending by not going out to dinner. I might be able to make it a month or two before I crack, but after that it is all over. I will probably want to go out every night for a week. I love eating out and trying new restaurants. It’s something that I enjoy, so why would I want to give it up. Instead, it should be a game of moderation. If you are the type of person who never cooks a meal at home, give it a shot. Do you need to stop going out to eat all together? Of course not. Just by cutting down the frequency means that you have made positive steps forward. By gradually making a change in your life, you are more likely to succeed in the long term.

In the end, we are all looking to improve ourselves each and every day. Some of us prefer to use a dramatic approach. However, I find the “slow and steady wins the race” approach to be most effective.

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Sean Bryant

Sean Bryant created in 2011 to help pass along his knowledge of finance and economics to others. After graduating from the University of Iowa with a degree in economics he worked as a construction superintendent before jumping into the world of finance. Sean has worked on the trade desk for a commodities brokerage firm, he was a project manager for an investment research company and was a CDO analyst at a big bank. That being said he brings a good understanding of the finance field to the One Smart Dollar community. When not working Sean and he wife are avid world travelers. He enjoys spending time with his daughter Colette and dog Charlie.
  • I agree with you. No spend days weeks or months only really get rid of the unnecessary or frivilous spending for that time frame but after it is over you may feel you deserve more treats than you would have otherwise received. The necessities just get delayed but are still spent. I see it as a timing game.

  • AvgJoeMoney

    You’re right on (as usual!). The boom/bust cycle some people create with this is as dangerous to your wallet as that “starve yourself” diet is to your waistline.

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