No Spend Challenge | January 2021

Can you picture yourself not spending money during the month of January? I was inspired by Happy Simple Mom to embark on this journey one year ago and I haven’t looked back. I did the challenge last year and felt much better after putting a temporary ban on buying non-essential items; thus, I was able to detox from the Christmas debt hangover. Is this extreme? Maybe a little, but I assure you that this challenge is totally doable. In fact, you might actually enjoy it. Chances are, you probably already have a lot of stuff laying around your house for future DIY projects (Pinterest, anyone?). And if you are like me, chances are you probably forgot about most of the stuff that you already own.

Below is a list of 10 non-essential items that I will not be buying this month. I do not encourage you to ban essential items like groceries, gas, phone bills etc. because these things essential for a reason. Non-essential items include extra things that you can learn to live without, and this list will vary from person to person. Remember, what you choose to give up for January is entirely up to you! 🙌

January No Spend Challenge

Here is a list of some of 10 things that I am not buying throughout the month of January 2021! 💰

1. Coffee and Steeped Tea I love coffee from MCDs and Steeped Tea from Tim Horton’s. Even though I can make MCDs coffee at home, I crave their coffee when I am running errands. I also crave Steeped Tea from Tim Horton’s which is a bit trickier since I cannot replicate it at home. I have tried numerous times to replicate it but I have not found a good replacement for store-bought Steeped Tea. I am able to justify buying Steeped Tea in-store by using gift cards and Tim’s Rewards (buy 7, get one free).

In 2020, I used my Swagbucks Rewards to purchase $75 worth of Tim Cards. If reward programs like Swagbucks appeals to you and you are interested in signing up, my referral link is https://www.swagbucks.com/profile/hellokitty8404. It is free to sign up using my referral link and you will be helping me out too. It’s similar to “Buy Me A Coffee!” but doesn’t cost you anything! ☕💕

2. Junk Food I have been a junk food addict for as long as I can remember. I could live off of junk food instead of real food but my guilty conscience does not allow me to succumb to poor lifestyle choices. However, I do consume a concerning amount of junk food on a weekly basis, specifically sugary treats like candy and chocolate. There is nothing wrong with junk food in moderation, but I admit that moderation is not a word in my vocabulary 😂 For this reason, I will be making my own treats in the New Year. In the past, I have made DIY honey-lemon candy, protein gummy candy, air-fried BBQ chips, kale chips, Dalgona coffee, and chocolate mug cake.

Dalgona coffee is the classic 2020 quarantine beverage! ☕

3. Ordering Takeout We told ourselves that we would only eat out twice a month, but we do not keep track of our spending. I feel like we were eating out at least 4 times per month, not including the Tim Hortons runs. I realize that we eat out way too much, so during the month of January, we plan to cook our meals at home. Often, I find myself giving into hanger when I am running errands, my husband wants to celebrate a special occasion, our daughter is hangry too etc. Next time, I will pack snacks when we travel, even if we are just running errands.

4. Eating at Restaurants We eat out at restaurants once a month because we spend more on takeout, and this goes hand in hand with point #3. Still, there is no reason to eat out if we can learn how to create our favourite dishes at home. There is no need for physical cookbooks since I can [usually] find what I need on the internet.

5. Online Shopping I pride myself for having self-control when it comes to online shopping. I keep online shopping to a minimum and only use a couple of sites, at most. There are some products which I can only buy online, such as Natural Calm – Calmful Sleep Natural Sleep Aid (powder) which you can purchase at an unbeatable price here. Now that my shipment has finally arrived, I do not need to buy anything else for a while. Oh yeah, and I avoid Amazon because of bad experiences/scams from questionable sellers.

6. Dollarama This goes hand and hand with #2 and #7 because two of my biggest culprits when shopping at Dollarama are junk food and stationary. Dollarama has good quality stationary and I cannot fathom why anyone would spend full price on greeting cards. The prices at Dollarama range from $1-$4 per item and the quality is decent, unlike other dollar stores I have shopped at. I shop there 2-3 times per week and usually spend $20.00+ per shopping trip. It is a problem that needs to be nipped in the bud.

It is addictive and it is hard to stop 😆

7. Stationary Where do I even begin with this one? I ❤ stationary! I love sending mail as much as I love receiving mail. Snail mail seems to be a dying art, and I usually give up when so-called pen-pals don’t reciprocate at all. I know I set my expectations too high and need to work on that. I also have an all-or-nothing personality, so this year I ended up mailing zero Christmas cards. That being said, I still have a problem when it comes to buying stationary and I get carried away sometimes. Therefore, I am putting a ban on stationary and will use up what I have before I buy more. 💌

I got a little too carried away one Christmas and realized that all of this effort wasn’t worth it in the end 💔

7. Skin Care Products Not only did I find some great deals during Boxing week, which you can read in my previous blog post, my mom also mailed me a bunch of skin care products from around the world for Christmas 2020. I definitely have an abundance of skin care products not limited to: face wash/cleanser from Japan, mini shower gel(s), a family-sized shower gel imported from Greece, body butters, body creams imported from Greece, hair care products from Korea, pain relief analgesics by Kalaya, and body yogurts. There is absolutely no reason for me to buy more skin care products unless I run out of something, which is highly unlikely.

8. Alcohol We are not big drinkers, so alcohol has never been an issue for me. Also, I am 19 weeks pregnant so I am not drinking alcohol anyways. I find it incredibly irresponsible for pregnant mothers to drink, fully knowing that they are harming their unborn child. For pregnant women who want something a bit classier than sparkling water this holiday season, there is a non-alcoholic beverage on the market known as sparkling fruit juice and it tastes delicious. I like how this beverage even comes in wine bottles which closely resembles champagne. This drink is a treat and not an every day indulgence. Cheers! 🥂

9. Miscellaneous Gifts I often spend money on others before I spend money on myself, and I like to buy “just because” gifts for my husband and daughter. I feel like this is my way of telling them that they are important to me. I know what my husband’s favourite candy and snacks are, for instance. He is aware that I am doing this January No Spend Challenge, and I am pretty sure that my daughter won’t notice. A friend of mine has an upcoming birthday, and because she lives in a different province, I want to send her something by mail. This might end up being an exception to the rule as I have no way of sending homemade gifts without paying ridiculously high shipping costs.


Finally, I encourage you to try this challenge during the month of January to kickstart the new year! I also encourage you to track your spending habits using a budgeting app or free PDF tracker so that you are able to see the progress that you are making. The results may surprise you! 🙂

If you need some extra encouragement this month, feel free to message me on my Contact Info Page. Please note that I mostly use email and WhatsApp. Also, feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment below ↓ and I will do my best to reply to your comments! ❤

Happy New Year! 🥳🥂

great-vibes.regular (1)

83 thoughts on “No Spend Challenge | January 2021

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Happy early birthday to your daughter, Nova! 🥳 When I did the challenge last year, I wasn’t perfect. I spent some money on non-essentials but it helped me reflect on things because I wrote everything down. Overall, it was a good experience.

      If January doesn’t work, there’s always February, March, April etc. What’s great about it is that this challenge can be applied to any month of the year 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nova says:

        That’s so true!! Anything non-essential! I’m absolutely going to give this a try. That’s the best I can do! Let me know it out goes for you!

        I’ll pass along the birthday wishes 🙂 She’s going to be 8 this year! Time goes so fast! When are you due?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        Writing everything down makes us more mindful of our spending. I was shocked at how many steeped teas I was buying each month. $300+ for steeped tea per year is waaaaay too much to spend just on steeped tea alone! And that was me thinking I was being mindful of my spending in 2020 lol I know I can do better ☕️💕

        Aww, your Zivah? She’s so adorable. 8 years old is a fun age! I bet you and your daughters could find some fun DIY crafts on Pinterest this winter. I’ve been wanting to try DIY bath bombs for a while now, and plan to make them eventually (maybe when Becca is a little older. She is 4 years old). Time really does fly! I am due May 28, 2020. We find out if it’s a boy or girl on January 5 💕

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nova says:

        We do find plenty to do! They have so much pretend, and so much imagination… It’s rarely quite here😂! I do enjoy one on one time with each of them, though.

        Yes, Miss Zivah will be 8 on the 17th. She wants a birthday theme party. I have her decorations ordered and on the way. I’m excited for her.

        Bath bombs huh? I imagine Becca could be a really big help if you’d make them now. Calandra helps me cook all the time! That’s a great age to start developing independence.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Hilary Tan says:

        Becca cooks and bakes with me too. She likes mixing things like cookie dough. It’s amazing how much imagination little kiddies have compared to us boring adults 😂 I hope that your daughter can have the party of her dreams! Here, we still aren’t allowed to have social gatherings due to COVID-19 😷

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      It’s crazy how much these purchases add up 🙇‍♀️ I don’t even subscribe to Netflix and Amazon Prime but know many people who do. It’s the little things I buy that are huge money wasters… a coffee here, a steeped tea there, some cute stationary, some household items I probably didn’t need etc. I highly recommend tracking how much you are spending during the month of January. It’s a great way to see what you’re spending your money on every single day 🙂

      Like

    • Hilary Tan says:

      That’s awesome, Ang! 🙂 I’m using the PDF paper tracker (it’s a free download). I printed it off and taped it to my wall because I’m the type who needs a visual reminder. I agree that eating out costs a lot of money and adds up over time. It’s one I struggle with as well, so detoxing this month by eating at home will be a good reset for us. We can do this! 😊💕

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Thank you so much, Shelly! We are team Blue! 💙 I’m not working [yet] so No Spend January is motivation to save money. So far, I’ve been cooking meals at home which forces me to use up what we have in our pantry. I’m also cooking and baking a lot more than usual. Please join me on this challenge! 💵

      Like

  1. winteroseca says:

    This is really informative. I’m thinking of trying something like this because 1. I’m adopting a more minimalist lifestyle and 2. Unless things change, I will be starting to pay off my student loans at the end of January!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hilary Tan says:

      I highly recommend trying it! The PDF tracker is free to download. I printed mine off and taped it to my wall as a visual reminder. If a No Spend Month is too hard, aiming for a Low Spend Month is a great place to start. Try to cut out the things that you can live without, like coffee shops and entertainment that costs money, for example.

      Ugh. Student loans are the worst, aren’t they? That is a good goal: to make 2021 the year that things change! 🙌

      Liked by 1 person

      • winteroseca says:

        Great! Thanks! Also, I know moving from another country has been a big money thing, and now that things are more settled, I can do this. Plus, I have to deal with money between Canada and the US. Like, facepalm!

        I hate the loans! I’m just glad it’s at least manageable. I wouldn’t be a good Economics major if I had insurmountable debt or didn’t have a plan to pay them off. One perk of graduating last May was the pandemic delayed my grace period while I moved lol

        Liked by 2 people

      • Hilary Tan says:

        I knew an insurance broker who didn’t know how to save money at all 🤦‍♀️ Yes, I can imagine that it is a huge headache trying to transfer funds between Canada and the US. If only the currency was the same, then things would be a lot easier!

        Liked by 2 people

    • Hilary Tan says:

      With all of the Boxing Week post-Christmas sales, they make it way too easy to splurge on things that we probably don’t need. This is Day 3 of the No Spend Challenge and honestly, I don’t feel deprived or like I’m missing out. Thank you for reading and commenting, Hannah! 😇

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hannah Gandhi says:

        It certainly feels good after a clear out when you don’t buy anything new and your room feels tidy 🙂 january is the month of no spending for me! I’m glad it’s going well for you too ❤️❤️

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        That’s awesome that you are also doing a no-spend January, Hannah! 😄 Do you use a habit tracker or printout to keep track of things? Yes, I agree that it feels good having a tidier room. Often, my room looks bigger after I’ve organized and decluttered it! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hannah Gandhi says:

        Currently, I just use my online banking app to keep track of any money movement and that works for me. However, if I was to get my own place, I’d probably put together a more detailed excel sheet! Absolutely, there’s is nothing more satisfying than a tidy room 💕

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Thank you for stopping by, Renard! Seeing your name really made my day! It doesn’t hurt to take a frugal approach to life, debt or no debt. Surprisingly, I have emergency savings despite being unemployed right now and live debt-free. I believe that it is frugality that has allowed me to live this way. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Arristella says:

    Congratulation on baby #2!

    Good luck on your no-spend challenge in January. its hard but worth it.

    The past few months, I have tried to track what I spend money on and keep it low. Sometimes it works and other times I have a bad night and up ordering something around 2am. The only good thing that came out of this pandemic was that I stopped buying food and coffee every single day which adds up. Now, I spend on ebooks (on sale) or journalling supplies.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Thank you, Arristella! We find out if it is a boy or girl on January 5! I really want to know what we are having, since we have a lot of girl clothes already (I am hoping for another girl). I had some setbacks in 2019 so I had to wait even longer to have a second child. And I am the most impatient person ever 😆

      e-books I haven’t tried yet, but I listen to audiobooks. Since I refuse to buy them, I can usually find free audiobooks on YouTube. Only if I cannot find it there will I resort to Audiobook. I can relate to the journaling supplies., stationary etc. I made a rule to use up what I have before I buy something new. I definitely feel like buying food and coffee everyday is something that a lot of us struggle with! ☕💕

      Like

  3. PoojaG says:

    Good luck with the challenge and I don’t know if I will do a no spend month but I definitely want to reduce my spending. Last year we only ate out or got take out four times a month and that includes coffee/tea etc which was super difficult but saved a lot of money. The Dollarama is so easy to waste money at- I always go in planning to buy one thing and end up with like 10.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hilary Tan says:

      It’s nice to see you back, Pooja! I missed talking to you these past couple of months and the WP community has not been the same without you. I think I have a Dollarama addiction because I watch Dollarama hauls on YouTube and dream about Dollarama LOL Same, I go there for 1 item and end up with 10 items! I miss Dollarama these days, not gonna lie, but what I don’t miss are the long lines and social distancing rules.

      Liked by 1 person

      • PoojaG says:

        I’ve really missed talking to you and everyone in the WP community- my life was definitely not the same without blogging!

        Lol those hauls are awful they always make me want to buy a bunch of stuff I don’t need and will probably never use. Yeah I haven’t been there in a while but the last time I was there the line was insane because everyone was social distancing. They even changed how everything is kept. It was really weird but obviously necessary.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      We have a Dollar Tree in Canada but it’s not nearly as interesting or exciting as the one in the US. Stationary is my weakness too; who can resist all of the cute, pretty things?💕 I somehow end up with multiple packs of stickers and cards from various shopping trips and wonder how that happened. I seem to have the memory-span of a fish. 🤦‍♀️

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        Clutter gives me anxiety, and it took me years to realize this. My 4-year old daughter does a good job of creating messes everywhere she goes, and she leaves trails. It is exhausting picking up after her. Then the husband brings home more crap we don’t need. He is not a hoarder but he is a clutter-bug, and so am I to an extent (a match made in heaven?) His solution? Buy a bigger house! 🤦‍♀️

        Like

  4. amymayj says:

    This is such a great idea! I don’t quite have enough confidence to carry it out myself (maybe next year!) but I’m certainly trying to cut back on those unnecessary spends after loads of treats as a result of everything going on in the world! 😂 Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      You’re going through a lot of transitions so that’s totally understandable! I look forward to buying a house – this apartment is too cramped and it feels suffocating at times.

      I agree that 2020 was a shit-show. By the end of the year, I was feeling broke and gross. I needed a change. I’m honestly amazed by much stuff we have accumulated that there is no need for me to buy more stuff this month.

      Like

  5. ZeroSpace says:

    I really enjoy these types of posts from you. I could learn something. For the most part I am pretty economical but I do have this problem where I think I need to have expensive business clothes and shit. That has to stop if I’m going to make good on my fantasy to quit my job and go back to my bohemian roots ;).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      I have an idea for another blog post and I haven’t really seen other bloggers write about these particular topics. This next blog post (plus a follow up for January 2021) is in the works but I have yet to snap photos and yenno, actually write these blog posts. I have been hesitant to write one of them in particular because of its controversy.

      I appreciate that you enjoy reading these blog posts, and I feel like they are much more authentic than the structured ones that I was previously writing. As for business clothes, I don’t have that problem since I am currently unemployed. I was supposed to start work a month ago and I haven’t heard anything regarding how to proceed. It’s frustrating nonetheless. At least you have a job! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        I called them a handful of times. I emailed the manager, and left a voice mail on her phone too. I’m beyond frustrated. I had to turn down another interview because I had these 2 jobs lined up but so far I haven’t even started working.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        I can’t disclose too much info here because it ends up on LinkedIn. For one job there is a lot of paperwork/application stuff/licensing. The office was closed during the holiday.

        It’s the other job hat I haven’t heard anything from… my date of hire was Dec 14 and I haven’t started yet or heard anything. Yeah, I don’t get it either. I have an employee ID (after talking to the HR manager, not my manager) so I think I’m in the system, but I am very confused as to what’s going right now. It’s stressing me out. I just want to work. 🙇‍♀️

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      My goal is to practice mindfulness this month. It forces me to get more creative with what I have, and I have a lot more stuff than I thought I had. I highly recommend a printout PDF tracker and to start simple. Habit trackers work well too. 🙌

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        The challenge is not as bad as it sounds. It seems like you’re giving up a lot but only eliminating non-essential purchases isn’t too bad. There’s a lot of YouTube videos that go into greater detail about essential vs. non-essential purchases.

        I agree that it seems to be a lot easier this year, given that we are dealing with restrictions. It’s also a good time to build new habits (silver linings, right?)

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Another Swagasaur! LOL Is that what we’re called? 😆 I don’t know other people who have taken advantage of Swagbucks. Considering how little I do on that site, I still accumulated points last year. I wish we had Target here, but sadly, Canada does not have Target. That’s great that you have good self-control. I also feel like this is one of my strengths. Perhaps its from learning how to delay instant gratification.

      Thank you for your well wishes! We found out that we are having a baby boy! 💙🧸

      Liked by 1 person

      • Azilde Elizabeth says:

        Same here! It takes time to get enough points to redeem a gift card but worth it!

        Aww congrats on a baby boy! 💙 super exciting! I hope your feeling well. I have 3 boys LOL my husband wants one more POSSIBLY! He is looking for that girl 💖

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        It helps if you redeem gift cards that are on sale. I just redeemed two $25 Tim Hortons gift cards this past month because I wasn’t sure how long the sale would last. 😂

        Aww, that’s cute that your husband wants a girl. I’m honestly not sure what to except when it comes to raising a baby boy. I know nothing about boys 🤭

        Liked by 1 person

      • Azilde Elizabeth says:

        Thats a great idea! I need to start using Swagbucks more. I haven’t been too consistent lately!

        I used to think boy stuff was so boring but you get used to all the boy stuff. I actually love being the only female at home 😆 one tip to follow when they are little is to uncover the diaper slow or they will pee on you 😂 it has happened with all three of mine! I have my talks with the boys but there are certain things that dad’s just take care of which is good for me. As with girls obviously mom takes care of certain talks as they get older.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        Thank you for the advice, Azilde! 😊 My daughter is still in denial that she’s getting a brother and keeps insisting that the baby is a girl. She is a tomboy so I am sure that she and her baby brother will become good friends.

        I am on and off with Swagbucks too. My husband finally agreed to sign up after seeing me accumulate these gift cards., except he only plans to submit receipts which I told him will take forever to accumulate points. The only downside to Swagbucks is the junk mail that I get in my inbox. *Sigh* I guess nothing in life is truly ever “free.”

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      So far, so good! I am starting to use up some of the stationary that I have, and thus, I need stamps so that I can send mail. I will be breaking a rule since stamps and shipping is non-essential, but I reasoned that it is better for me to send mail than to hoard stationary. Also, I keep finding extra packs of stickers stuffed away in drawers in closets. I have a lot more stuff than I thought I did! It feels like Christmas all over again LOL 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Srilata says:

    I could relate to so much of this. Because of Pandemic I thought i was saving money. No. I instead spent it on takeouts!! So many of them. I finally called it quits. Deleted the apps altogether. Also, so true about Dollarama. Everytime I’m there I end up spending so much.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        The No Spend Challenge? Definitely. It’s made me much more mindful of my mindless spending habits. Here are some things I’ve implemented this month:

        1. Rather than completely cut out Dollarama, I have decided to limit it to one trip a week if I need anything (and only if there is a need). I’ve decided to buy candy there because it’s way cheaper than Bulk Barn.
        2. I’m also shopping my house, meaning that I’m using the things I have before I buy more.
        3. As for steeped tea, I haven’t cut it out because going cold turkey has never worked for me. Instead, I’m using gift cards from the points I’ve accumulated from Swagbucks ($100 total since last April). $50 of that I’m currently using to get me through January and part of February.
        4. I’m also shopping my own cupboards and using up what I have rather than getting takeout. I’ve been making meals from scratch and started baking more, using the food that we have. It’s forced me to get creative.

        I plan on writing a post about this at the end of January (if there is time). My schedule is going to get super crazy though.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        To answer your previous question, as for deleting apps, I only keep productivity apps on my phone (my phone is minimalistic). I seldom shop online as it is which has been a huge money saver 🙂 We don’t use takeout services like Door Dash.

        Like

      • Srilata says:

        Those are some amazing hacks. Good job!! The grocery stuff is quite difficult for me too! I’m trying to buy small amounts and use rather than throwing it away. Check out this cooking show by Nadiya on Netflix, she has amazing meal prep hacks to save time. I might use some of them too.
        And looking forward to that post whenever you have it ready 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Yes, temptations are everywhere but it’s only for 30 days. The challenge is not as bad as it sounds 😅 The good news is that this challenge can be attempted any time of the year…. and it’s free (pun intended). Thank you for stopping by, Richard! 🙂

      Like

  7. K says:

    Hey there, I am curious how your shopping ban went… are there more posts about this? I am about to start my own – though April 16th – May 16th – and I am happy to find another blogger who is did this experiment.
    Cheers,
    K
    outfromunder.blog

    Like

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