Tips & Advice / Travel

On the 30-Day “No Spend” Challenge

One of my favorite things to do lately is peruse different websites and plan a dream trip. While I’m not quite in the position at the current moment, and I’m still figuring out what I want to do with the rest of my life (not daunting at all), I’ve been brainstorming some pretty cool scenarios of what I could see myself doing in the next one, five, and ten years. This involves a lot of looking at airfare prices, checking out interesting blogs, which link me to other interesting blogs, looking at amazing Instagram photos, and watching fascinating videos.

On these travel blogs, I consistently see posts about saving money for a trip. That’s certainly my big hurdle to overcome.

Help me, I'm poor.Me, every day.

It’s definitely encouraging to discover sneaky little tricks to save money, but it’s also quite frustrating because I feel like I’m already doing a lot of suggestions I read. I don’t drink coffee, I don’t own a car, and I have not just one but two roommates, just to name a few. In looking at my budget, my biggest expense is rent–San Franny is one of the most freakin’ expensive places to live. A couple of bloggers said they moved back in with their folks before travel, and I can understand why. Honestly, though, I don’t really see that as an ideal option for myself (to Mom and Dad: it’s not personal).

So, imagine my intrigue when I found this article about the 30-Day “No Spend” Challenge. It totally hooked me from the start, opening with, “A friend told me the other day that he can’t go a week without spending money.” I feel ya, brah. I definitely like to think that I’m a frugal gal, but then a week goes by and it’s like, where the hell did my money go? The 30-Day “No Spend” Challenge allows you to use your money for essential items, of course, like groceries, bills, and so forth. However, you wouldn’t purchase anything non-essential, such as some new shoes or a dinner out with friends.

I’m quick to say that I would fail this challenge miserably. But seriously–seeeeeeriously–could I do this? Would it be possible? Sure. Would I like it? Most definitely not. I’m a social person who loves dive bars and photobooth photos. So it’s no way to live long-term, but I would be interested to see how much I actually save when cutting out all non-essential spending for a designated (and short) period of time.

These are just some of my most recent non-essential purchases:

10/12 — $55 — Avett Brothers concert ticket.

10/17 — $6 — Cheap-ass wine.

10/20 — $27 — Dinner out.

10/24 — $7 — An album on iTunes.

10/26 — $23 — An ATM withdrawal–complete with a $2.99 ATM fee. (Drunk Theresa convinced me this was a wise decision.)

In just looking at these (as well as other) purchases, sure, I can definitely say I didn’t need to withdraw cash for another round at the bar, or I should have made dinner and stayed in that one night. I like to think that I live cheaply, as I am a young gal just entering a lifestyle where I’m not paycheck-to-paycheck. I mean, my cheap-ass wine was literally $3 a bottle, and the album on iTunes was not only a steal but like really really good. Honestly, the only purchase on here that I would not take back is the concert ticket. And to put it in perspective, if I had held out on those other purchases, I would have essentially paid for that concert ticket.

The problem, I’ve come to realize, is when we make ourselves believe that something is necessary for us to lead happy lives. I don’t need new shoes to be happy and no one has to go to brunch every weekend to feel fulfilled. Additionally, if someone is shelling out cash, paying for an experience is vastly more rewarding and a better use of money than paying for a material object. Humans, especially Americans, are led to believe that we need to constantly have to acquire the new and the better, which means we’re rapidly consuming and getting more and more stuffs. In reality, we can get by with very little.

So in my efforts to cut costs and save some cash for potential travel, do I think I’ll try the 30-Day “No Spend” Challenge? I’d definitely like to. Do I want to do it for 30 days? Hellz no! I think I will revise this, try it out for one week, and see how I feel. I’m sure the benefits and realizations would be greater and more evident if I did this for a whole month, but honestly homegirl is nervous to even try this out for 3 days. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

So what about you–do you honestly think you could participate in the 30-Day “No Spend” Challenge? How do you think you would do?

Oh, and if you’re looking for some interesting travel reads, check out these 3 other great blogs which inspired this post!

Nomadic Matt

Twenty-Something Travel

Legal Nomads

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