What No Spend November has Taught Me

As our third year taking part in No Spend November comes to a close, I wanted to try and articulate some of the things this month has taught me, and what I have gained from taking part in the challenge (besides all the money we didn’t spend!)

I covered the ups and downs over on social media, so I won’t bore you reliving that, (but if you missed those posts you can read them here.) To anyone who is new to the concept of a No Spend month I’ll quickly cover the guidelines we set ourselves.

  • All of our regular bill payments get paid as per usual.

  • We allow a set amount for petrol for the month.

  • We stick to our usual budget for the weekly food shop.

  • We don’t spend money at any other time.

  • No emergency trips to the shop if we forget something, no cafes, no meals out, we don’t even use car parks that charge!

  • Exceptions include unavoidable work related expenses, things for the Children at school; trips, Christmas fair, concert costumes etc. (November is an expensive month in the life of a school child!)

  • We also have allowed ourselves the last 2 years to make a start on Christmas shopping to ease the pressure come December.

Before I continue I do want to reassure readers that I appreciate the privileged position we are in to be able to undertake a no spend month, and I know for many this is the norm. For us our motivations for doing this challenge are partly to help us pay for Christmas, and partly to help us re-assess our relationship with money, how easily we spend it, how unnecessary so many of our purchases are etc. Plus I think it is just worthwhile to challenge ourselves from time to time and get out of our comfort zone!

 Some free fun at the beach.

Some free fun at the beach.

So what did I learn from all this I hear you ask?

Well this year I had two main take-aways from this challenging month.

The first one was how beneficial a No Spend Month is for the environment. I couldn’t help but think each time I didn’t purchase something how much waste was being saved. Those non-recyclable sweet wrappers from the treat on the walk home from school, the plastic drinks bottles we didn’t buy as we planned ahead and knew we’d need to take our own drinks, the non-essential food items and all their packaging that couldn’t be purchased, even down to clothing, toys or any other items we may have purchased.

Every thing we buy has been made using resources, some more sustainable than others, and some more ethical than others. I’m not suggesting because of the environmental impact of every purchase that we suddenly stop consuming. I for one would be the first to die, as I need chocolate to live. However, if so many of our purchases are actually unnecessary then a large chunk of our environmental impact could be relieved if we became much more conscious consumers.

 The wonderful Rhossili beach and November light.

The wonderful Rhossili beach and November light.

Secondly, I couldn’t help but realise this month the things that really matter to us. Minimalism helped us figure this out to some extent long ago, but it was good to have it reiterated and refreshed this month. My priorities and my desires actually have very little to do with money. The important things for me can largely be found at the beach or in the hills.

Being able to take lots of time this month for walks and adventures instead of trips to the shops or spending time on all those errands us grown ups seem to accumulate has been lovely. I’m not going to lie, I’m looking forward to being able to warm up with a hot chocolate and some cake in a cafe next time we are out for a long walk, but taking treats from home and a flask hasn’t been too bad. And on balance, the more time we spend doing these favourite free activities the more money we have for another of my priorities; travel. There are just so many beaches and mountains out there I still need to see!

 Rhossili Beach. So much beauty on our doorstep.

Rhossili Beach. So much beauty on our doorstep.

If you are contemplating a No Spend month I would definitely recommend it. However, if a whole month feels too daunting why not start with a No Spend Week? Or maybe just a No Spend Weekend? I don’t think it will be as hard as you think and you will most likely learn something and you will definitely save money!


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