The 1 Year No Spend Challenge: Saving $20k of a $32k annual income

Become a Financial Genius Simple Living + Minimalism

A Year Long No-Spend Challenge

For today’s Money Monday, I wanted to let someone else take the wheel to talk about this really inspiring and worthwhile challenge- 365 days of no unnecessary spending. Meet Shawna, of Money Saving Momma on a Mission- The Journey of My “No Spend” Year. I met Shawna about two years ago, and she’s one of the most positive and uplifting people I know. When I learned she was doing a “no spend” Challenge, I was so intrigued!

I’d heard of this challenge before (shout out to Cait Flanders, I read her book “The Year of Less” during a 5 hour binge reading session), but I’d never had anyone that I knew “in real life” actually try it out until now.

Shawna started her Facebook page in December of 2017 to document her 2018 “no spend” year, and she’s been consistently sharing updates, tips, tricks, and some really cool insights for the no-spend challenge. She originally was introduced to this idea by the book “Living Well on One Income” by Cynthia Yates, and began trying periods of “no spending”, first a few weekends a time, which eventually evolved into no spend weeks, no spend months, and now, a no spend year.

She’s now more than 70 days in, and I’m so excited for her to share her story on Diamonds N’ Denim. Without further ado, meet Shawna!

One Year No Spend Challenge - Meet Shawna

Money Saving Momma on a Mission- The Journey of My “No Spend” Year

Inspiration for a “No Spend” Year

“I wasted $20,000! I can’t believe I wasted $20,000. It seems ridiculous, no one would do that. I am a single mom, and I just threw away $20,000. It was then that I started bawling and vowed to myself, God, and my son that it would never happen again.”

That was October 2017. I stumbled across the concept of a no spend year. WHAT!? GENIUS!! But how do you do that? I had completed no spend weekends, weeks, and even a month here and there. Sometimes it was out of necessity, but I also knew I had a spending problem that I desperately wanted to change. Or rather, a saving problem!

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The concept of an entire year really excited me, and terrified me all at the same time. It was exactly what I needed. I had to completely restart my fiscal life, reprogram my financial habits. I have always been fiscally responsible when it came to paying my bills. Always on time, paid in full. When I was 20 I was told I had the credit of a 40 year old! I was loaned the money for a truck without a co-signer. I had never been a saver, though, and that was the issue. No safety net or back-up plan in place.

I went to work researching, running the numbers, creating the lists…that is when I realized that I WASTED $20,000 a year! It was so shocking, I re-figured my numbers. I just knew it had to be wrong. The reality was that it was right! Between my job, side gigs, child support, tax return, and my bonus I brought in $32,000 per year, and my outgoing cost to live is only $12,000. I only had $21 in my savings account! Where did the other 20 grand go???

Out came all of my old banks statements and it became clear…

Fast food, gourmet coffee, hair, pedicures, massages, clothes, clothes, more clothes, shoes, JUNK! Just wasted on junk. I was completely disgusted with myself and I vowed to change.

I decided that in order to buy my own house (yes, I’m also wasting money renting a home), I was committed to a No Spend 2018! I went over my necessary spending and made cuts wherever I could. I downsized my phone plan to the minimum plan, implemented the cash envelope system with strict budgeted dollar amounts for each category  (groceries, gas, Christmas, and a miscellaneous/emergency), reduced all my utilities in preparation.

I want to save as much as humanly possible in 2018! It was at this point I began telling my family, friends, and coworker about my challenge. And the questions started.

How can you ‘Not spend’?”

“You have to eat?”

“What if this…or that happens?”

Planning for a “No Spend” Year

I did my best to think of all the possibilities. Of course, “no spend” means no spending on unnecessary things. Eating out, paying for services like pedicures that I can do myself, not buying clothing that I don’t need, etc, had to go. The miscellenous / ER envelope covers the unexpected needs such as: o.t.c meds, clothing, supplies to make gifts, etc. I did have a few exceptions that came up in the midst of my planning. I already obligated myself to three expenditures in 2018 before I decided to go forward with my no spend year.

  • The first expense is a joint birthday party with my son’s “birthday twin”
  • The second is a trip to Florida that we had been planning for a year and a half
  • And third, is bridal party flowers for my aunt’s wedding (my gift to the happy couple).
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It is not in my nature to go back on my commitments to people, but each situation will be approached with a strict budget, and my new money saving skills.

Day 71- Shawna’s Progress to Date

2018 is going really well! I had to break the habit of shopping for entertainment.  I also avoid retail at all cost. There is a reason the stores pay so much for advertising and marketing, it is best to just stay away.

By the end of February I have saved over $5,800.00!!! I am no longer living paycheck to paycheck. This is also the first year I didn’t already have my tax return spent before it even hit my bank. That is a huge change for me!

I am still excited, but not nervous anymore. It has become second nature to say “no” to spending. I also realize that what I am doing seems so odd to others because our society has moved so far from our grandparents habits. As a society, we are quickly forgetting all the hard learned lessons from the Great Depression.  I am determined that 2018 is the year I become a saver. I am determined to stay debt free by paying cash for a fixer upper home.I am determined to teach my son healthy money habits by being a good example. I am determined to take minimalism to the next step. I am determined to be different.

Every day I choose the road less travelled. 

To Conclude

Hi guys, Sarah again! I don’t know about you, but Shawna’s story is so inspiring to me! How many people do you know who are saving nearly two-thirds of their income? How many people have made it a goal to buy their house in cash? Y’all this is one bada$$ momma!

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If you haven’t already, make sure you like Shawna’s facebook page “Money Saving Momma on a Mission- The Journey of My “No Spend” Year so you can keep up with her story. If she’s up for it, I’d love to have Shawna back on here in a few months or at least at the end of the year to showcase her progress.

Let’s Talk!

  • Would you ever consider a “no spend” challenge?
  • How far would you go to save money?
  • Do you have any tips or advice for “no spend” Challenge members?

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