Life Hack: #NoSpendOctober and the $5 savings challenge

For the last 30 days I’ve been participating in a no-spend and saving challenge. Here I’ll share how I saved more and spent less!

Last month Rachel the Hat put out a challenge on Instagram to make October the month of #nospendoctober. I had been feeling like I’d splurged a bit on September (including an almost AUD$300 Wool and the Gang knitting kit – oops) so the challenge came at a good time.

Frankly I didn’t think I would get past the first week of October without buying something because I frequent my favourite buy/sell/swap Facebook pages and apps a lot. And of course I always kept finding stuff I wanted. I was also itching to visit my favourite markets to just scratch that spending itch.

Interestingly however I found myself in the last few days of October not actually having bought anything fashion related. (Does a Halloween costume for a school fundraising event count as being fashion related though?) The one time I did get to the markets there was nothing of interest. I went to the opshops a couple of times but same thing – I couldn’t find anything I liked. I also thought the world was conspiring a little bit so that I couldn’t actually go to some of my favourite opshops – hubster was working on something for the house so I had to mind the kids; or I was just too physically tired to enjoy the shopping experience.

So now I’ve reached the end of October without actually buying anything – how did I do it?

1. Being more thoughtful towards my online shopping

Often I found myself saying “Sold” on a group post on one of my buy/sell/swap pages mainly because it was cheap. But did I actually need it? Knowing that I was on this spending ban I would instead save the item or product on Facebook, or if it was on an app I’d “like” or “favourite” it. After a week or so I’d review what I’d saved or liked and realised I really didn’t need it, or I already had something similar. In doing so I think this really curbed my impulse buying because I had time to mull it over and decide if it was something I really needed. If the item had sold in the meantime, I would just think of it having saved some money.

2. Being more conscious of what I actually needed

For example, I saw a second hand Isabel Marant sweater on sale for $60. I LOVE her label and it was just so darn cheap, but I already have a zillion sweaters, not including the ones that need to be knitted. What I did need though were a new pair of khaki pants, some tan sandals, maybe a nice lacy top. I tried to focus my interests on what I really needed rather than being distracted by what I liked.

The same principle applied when I went to the markets or opshops – by focusing on what I needed I was less tempted to linger over other sections of the store.

3. Keeping myself occupied

I mentioned above that I had spent a fair bit on some knitting kits and I’ve been slowly working my way through them (along with about 8 other crochet projects). Unless you’re a knitting master, it’s hard to scroll on social media while you’re knitting. I find when I’m on social media when I see something I like, I then straight away go and find it or something similar to purchase. Or obsess over it until the buying itch is scratched. So less time frittering on the social media vortex has helped curb the need to spend (but apologies if I’ve been quiet on there – here’s the explanation why).

4. Trying the $5 savings challenge

I actually did this earlier in the year for a couple of months and then forgot all about it, but I wanted to stick to it for October as part of the spending ban. Basically the $5 savings challenge means you don’t spend any of your $5 notes – keep them tucked away or take them out and put in a jar.

At the end of the month I’ve saved $105 by keeping most of my $5 notes. (I had to use them 3 times – twice when places accepted only exact change, and once at the aforementioned school fundraiser.) I also could have potentially saved more by going old school and buying everything in cash rather than using PayPass. It’s such a simple way to save money, and seeing how much I had is a great motivator not only as a means of saving, but also realising how easy it is to spend more than what you realise simply by tapping the card on a machine.

If you’re interested in doing a similar no-spend and save challenge, I also wrote about my #NoSpendber challenge from last year here. My lovely Insta friend Julie on @mythriftshift is doing her own version of #NoSpendber for this November by creating a style challenge where you shop your closet for the whole month (check out her Instagram page for the daily prompts). Good luck – it starts off painfully but there are some great benefits at the end of the challenge!

See my other life hack posts here

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3 Comments

  • haha well now I feel bad – I was just proudly explaining to my mum how doing the $5 challenge since June had saved me…. $105. hahahaha! I really don’t use cash that often at all, so I thought I was doing pretty well with it. Till I read your post! hehe.

    I really agree with the point about keeping occupied – I know from my no-buy Julys in the past that avoiding the sales and the stores and the temptations is the best way for me to stick to no shopping. I nearly made it through buy nothing new month this month, but a few sneaky purchases happened, ha! Most of which were from the opshop fill a bag for $2 sale so I’m not feeling too bad about them. Might change my tune when I get the alteration fees when I go pick them up 😉

    • Haha! I have to admit it was pretty hard saving the $5 notes, and I found that I would put a lot of stuff on Paypass just so I wouldn’t use them lol. I went to the markets this weekend to treat myself after the no-spend ban and picked up some Costume National sandals for $30, only for the resoling to cost $47!

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