Unsplash / OneSave/Day

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to start the year with no spending.

It is no secret that Christmas shopping puts a lot of Americans in debt, so everyone needs a way to recuperate from that debt as quickly as possible. A no-shopping challenge just might be the perfect solution.

What is a no-shopping challenge and why you should try it?

A no-shopping challenge is exactly what it sounds like: you refrain from shopping for a set period of time. Here are 5 good reasons to try this financial fast:

  • It gives you a chance to pay off the debt that you accrue over the holidays.
  • It can open your eyes to things you really do not need but that you normally spend money on.
  • You can use the money to reach other goals, such as starting a business or building your emergency fund.
  • It will prevent you from accruing new debt.
  • You might get into money-saving habits that stay with you long after the challenge is over.

Completing this challenge might be harder for some than it is for others, especially if you are used to buying what you want when you want it. No matter the level of difficulty, though, it is completely possible for every person. The key is to set your personal game plan in place before you begin.

Rules of the game

If you thought that no shopping meant that you do not spend a dime on anything, relax. Unless you have an overflowing stock of everything you use, you will have to spend some money. The point is to only spend on things that you need and nothing else.

Get creative. What things do you normally spend money on that you can replace or rework? 

Try not to relax too much, though. Many of us buy many things that we think we need but really do not. How many people actually need to purchase new clothes every month? The answer is most likely none of us, especially if you have clothes in your drawers and closet. You might want to buy new clothes, but you probably do not need them.

Step one of the no-shopping challenge is to really consider your regular purchases. How many of them do you actually need to survive? Make a list of those items. Your list should include items such as:

  • Groceries.
  • Fuel for your car.
  • Cleaning products and toiletries.
  • Clothing necessities. Real necessities, like replacing socks and underwear.
  • Cosmetics. You do not have to walk out of the house looking like you don’t care, but try to stick to the basics if you have to purchase cosmetics.

In case there is any confusion, eating out is not normally a necessity. There might be the occasion that you are stuck out of the house much longer than you think and need some sustenance, but you do not need to purchase a $10 value meal. Grab a cheap burger to hold you over until you get home.

Unsplash / Brandon Morgan

There may be a couple of other things to add depending on your personal life but really consider those items. Are they necessary? Could you go without them for a month or two? If so, leave them off of your list.

Tips for Success

  • People tend to go overboard when setting goals. Instead of starting with a year-long no-spending challenge, try just 30 or 60 days. You can always extend it.
  • Get creative. What things do you normally spend money on that you can replace or rework? For instance, if you normally take the family out to a movie once a month, why not try a family game night instead? Instead of purchasing expensive cleaning products, try some natural ones. Vinegar and baking soda work wonders.

A deeper dive- Related reading from the 101:

DIY and natural cleaning products are safer and cheaper.

Phones are one of the most-expensive regular purchases people make.

Overspending is just one thing that gets you into trouble.