No Spend Challenge | Monthly Wrap-Up

If you need a refresher, please go read No Spend Challenge | I Messed Up. Setting ambitious goals is one thing, but persevering despite a less-than-perfect month takes even more self-praise, motivation, and commitment. In total, I had 7 days where I “accidentally” bought non-essential items. Nothing is truly accidental because we are ultimately responsible for everything we do, including yearly subscriptions that we may have forgotten about 🤦‍♀️

Below is the PDF sheet that I printed off and taped to my wall for month of January. Whenever I had a good day, I got a sticker. I know it sounds silly but it keeps me motivated since I like to keep the positive streak going. I am also keeping a tally at the bottom of the sheet which indicates the number of days that I cheated or unintentionally spent money. I am aware that January has 31 days and felt that it was only fair to include that extra day in the challenge.

This is how I kept track of No Spend January.

Perfectionism Was Not The Goal

I received lots of feedback from my readers throughout the month of January, and your comments meant a lot to me – thank you so much! ❤ I couldn’t help but notice that several of you a) agreed with me or praised me for attempting such a challenge or b) were appalled that someone like me screwed up the No Spend Challenge or c) questioned this challenge with much skepticism. To clarify, I am human too and make mistakes just like everyone else. God might be a woman according to Ariana Grande, but last time I checked, I was an imperfect human being and still am to this day. Remember, perfectionism was not the point of this challenge. In fact, perfectionism can be quite damaging to one’s mental health and probably contributes a great deal towards neuroses.

Setting Personal Goals

Sure, I could have chosen to lie about my spending habits, but that would have defeated the purpose of this challenge 🙅‍♀️ Although the No Spend Challenge was annoying and inconvenient at times, it made me more mindful of my spending habits and helped me develop a better relationship with money and unnecessary purchases. Rather than go cold turkey during the month of February, I have decided to continue tracking my spending using a planner. I also realize that banning myself from places like Dollarama did not save me money in the long-run. Therefore, I am limiting myself to one Dollarama shopping trip per week with a budget of $20-30 since I also shop for the family. Honestly, this challenge helped heighten my awareness, and I am even more mindful about my spending habits these days. I learned that I do not need to deprive myself of the simple pleasures in life, as long as I continue to live an honest and intentional life 🌺

A Small Victory!

I accumulated $50 worth of Tim Hortons gift cards from Swagbucks, which helped me survive the month of January 2021. My husband decided to join Swagbucks using my referral link, after seeing that I was able to redeem $100 worth of e-gift cards in 2020! Because my husband joined and earned 300 swagbucks (SB) within 30 days of joining, we each received a $3 rebate bonus. In conclusion, Swagbucks is legit and rewards people for shopping online, submitting receipts, completing surveys, playing games, and completing daily tasks (they’re easy). You won’t get rich from Swagbucks but you will be rewarded for your efforts.

A shoutout goes to Nicholas Tan (my husband) for supporting me! Thank you for the delicious Steeped Tea(s)! 😊💕

If you sign up using my referral link and start earning SB, you will be helping me out A LOT. For every 10 SB you earn, I will be earning 1 SB which adds up over time. Also, if you acquire 300 SB within your first 30 days of signing up, you will receive a 300 SB ($3.00) welcome bonus on top of the $3.00 that you have already earned. As a thank you for earning SB to help support my steeped tea addiction, I will give you a shoutout in a future blog post (your blog link included) as my way of saying thank you. That way, other bloggers can find and follow your blog too! ❤

Thanks for stopping by!

great-vibes.regular (1)

61 thoughts on “No Spend Challenge | Monthly Wrap-Up

  1. ZeroSpace says:

    Glancing at that calendar, it looks to me like you are doing fabulous. Did someone on WordPress actually make a negative comment about your progress with the no spend challenge? Good heavens. People like that really need to Get A Life!
    Well, I am doing fairly well on my own personal No Spend Challenge. I just went 3 days without spending money. I did make a couple luxury purchases in the month of January. I bought two books by a fellow blogger. They were pretty darn cheap though. And I bought 2 sets of experimental guitar strings for my acoustic guitar. Even so, I’m at the point where if I purchase a luxury item, it is damn well going to be cheap. I think the strings were only 8 bucks each. And well, strings wear out and I’ve been practicing my face off. The cheap books are scientific, feed my head and help me fall asleep since they are scientific. And I supported a fellow blogger which makes me feel good. I need all the Feel Goods I can get.
    Confession: I really want Epsom salt for a bath. I should not buy it but my muscles are cranky after morning exercise. I think I will resist. I have magnesium designed for consumption so I will get over myself and eat it rather than soaking in it.
    I also really want Taco Time because I am PMSing and not wanting to eat. Fast food is easier to get down the hatch. It remains to be seen whether or not I will allow myself One Last Taco Time meal in my unemployment. But I am definitely not buying Epsom salt.
    Wow, I think I will leave a comment on Hilary’s blog which is so long that it might ad well be a full on blog post 😄

    Liked by 3 people

      • ZeroSpace says:

        Yes! I apologize to Hilary for taking over her comment section with guitar talk, first of all. Lmao. But this is fun. Quitter – I bought. Taylor Grand Pacific acoustic last summer which came with Elixer coated strings. For me coated strings seem fabulous for fingerpicking but are horrible for strumming. I also want to take some brightness off that Taylor. I did research and people say if you want to strip “the bright” off a Taylor some – use “DR Rare” strings. I ordered 2 size 12 and 2 size 11. They are not “experimental” per say, but they are experimental to me since I’ve never used them. I am excited to try them out. And yet the Elixers are still good so I hate to strip them off before their time. I mostly fingerpicking an acoustic anyway and I reserve the flat picking for my electric. Short version; TLDR; DR Rare for acoustic.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Hi @ZeroSpace! The comments weren’t offensive per say, but there was a lot of victim-blaming and skepticism. The comments came from other places mostly, like blog posts in the same niche or places like WhatsApp etc. People don’t even want to try this challenge but then continue to complain that they are spending too much money on stuff 🤷‍♀️ This is why I could never be a therapist, seeing that people wouldn’t take my advice anyways.

      Books and guitars are good hobbies, and I personally see nothing wrong with things that are educational and good for the mind. It would be cool if you shared your guitar music on your blog or YouTube etc. I’m always looking for music to listen to! 🙂 I find guitar music very relaxing.

      You can get some pretty affordable Epsom salts at Walmart. My mom used to send European bath salts which were amazing until she stopped buying them due to the pandemic and refusal to leave the house. They were the best bath salts, although I forget what brand it was. It was kinda pricy so I let her buy them for me LOL

      Liked by 1 person

      • ZeroSpace says:

        Given that I had a terrible, awful anxiety episode last night, I *might* do cheap epsom salt at Walmart. It also promotes sleep. It’sa catch 22 because right now isn’t a good time for me to visit a supermarket….
        I have searched for decent guitar recording apps (free, of course, in keeping with our lovely theme here), and I cannot find any that record with decent sound quality. They either make my guitar sound like a banjo, too much backgound hiss or you can hear my string squeak from sliding. I wrote an instrumental where I slide a lot. So that annoys me. I may just try again and play stuff where I do not slide. Foremost, I’m very interested in doing a post comparing two different string sets. So that may be on the horizon.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        Our dollar store here sells Epsom salts. I usually shop there (Dollarama) but Walmart should be fairly inexpensive too. I’m not sure what it is like in the US, but here I still go to the supermarkets. I haven’t purchased groceries online since the pandemic started, or ever. Wear a mask, wash your hands, and social distance, and you should be okay. 😷 Get what you need from Walmart and get out. That’s what I do, anyways.

        If you are looking for guitar sheet music, I have access to sheet music (due to that accidental yearly subscription renewal, which was a sheet music subscription). As for strings, I wonder if the quality of violin strings matter. I never had to change the strings myself and I have always left it up to the professionals. Violin quality is mainly based on the build of the instrument itself, the type of wood used, and the age. So I wonder if strings also influence the sound quality 🤔

        Liked by 1 person

      • ZeroSpace says:

        While I’m not a violinist, I would venture the a guess that for any stringed instrument, string quality matters ;). Yeah, it’s getting to the point where I need other groceries anyway, so I’ll be visiting wally world soon. Our dollar stores here in Olympia are not fancy enough for epsom salt! Even if they did, I don’t know about Dollarama, but US dollar stores sell stuff in itty bitty tiny amounts. I’ve gone in there all like, “Wow, I get a way better deal at walmart buying stuff on sale in bulk…” Regarding the sheet music, no worries unless its something you can submit over e-mail. Yeah, you know I have not done the online grocery ordering thing either. And I don’t know why. It seems sensible enough for most items, but I guess old habits are hard to break.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        Dollarama is a Canadian dollar store. We have dollar tree here but it is nothing like the US dollar trees. The ones here are so limited and everything is a $1.25 rather than $1. I only shop Dollarama, given the option. Dollarama prices range from $1-$4. Its easy to get carried away at Dollarama! Our Walmart’s here are $$$ and I’ve done price comparisons here…. Dollarama still wins (for most items).

        If you’re looking for anything in particular, I can download it for you as a PDF file. People submit sheet music so most of it is arranged but I have seen original sheet music too. It’s mostly piano music but they have strings, flute, orchestra etc. as well.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Thank you, Zainab! Being frugal really helped me save money and stay out of debt in my 20’s. Not gonna lie, I was surprised that my husband said that he wanted to join too 😄 Small victories and wins should be celebrated; it’s similar to practicing gratitude every morning so we don’t lose sight of the progress we have made ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      • ZeroSpace says:

        I also think it’s amazing that you stayed out of debt, Hilary. That’s so rare lady. Good for you. Yes, this series is amazing and I’m excited for your future posts on this topic.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        I’m hoping to write about freeganism in the future as well. And I don’t mean in a dirty dumpster diving kinda way. It’s amazing what people throw away by the dumpsters though. Luckily, they are kind not to throw these things IN the dumpsters! 😂

        To stay debt free, one needs to give up the first-world luxuries and stick to the basics, like stoic living (I think that these people were onto something). I haven’t worked in 4 years and live pretty inexpensively for Canadian standards.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      I still think 7 oops-days is a lot, but in retrospect, 24 non-oops days is not that bad. I am hoping for a low-spend February, especially since my essential-costs were quite high during the month of January (higher than usual).

      Having some kind of planner or visual tracker (even if it’s a printout taped to your wall) is a great visual and constant reminder of the progress that you are making ❤

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Thank you 😅 Sadly, I didn’t really end up saving money during the month of January because my essential costs were very high, despite keeping my non-essential costs relatively low. I am hoping for a low-cost February, for both non-essential and essential costs.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      They weren’t mean per say, but skeptical and negative towards the idea of attempting this challenge. I can assure you that they probably have out-of-control spending problems, and/or debt. I can tell people that this approach is very effective because it implements consistent habit tracking, but people aren’t going to listen until they are ready for change.

      Yes, definitely check out the link to the free PDF tracker – it will be emailed to you for free! 😊 If digital tracking is more your thing, you can use this PDF as a digital tracker too. Please update me when you do try this challenge! You’ve got this! 😄

      Like

  2. Lotus Laura says:

    Amazing job in my opinion! 👏 7 oops days means you still completed over three fourths of the challenge! Like you said it’s about progress not perfection. This changed your mindset and made you rethink the way you spend. In this consumer based society I call that a great victory. And the fact that you made the decision to embark on this challenge. Sometimes going too extreme can backfire so if you went 30/31 days straight without extra spending then you might’ve broke down and went on a huge splurge. Moderation is key. Glad you found a new budget that works for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      The non-essential costs for January were high so I didn’t end up saving any money… the costs were higher than other months because I had a bunch of bills and other licensing fees to pay. Hopefully February will be a kinder month 🙏🏻💕

      I agree that this challenge can backfire especially if we are too strict, similar to a relapse when attempting a fad diet. I’ve been so busy during the month of February that I haven’t had the time to think about what I want to buy next. I started making a list of the things I need to buy/high importance and will deal with it next time I’m running errands. I used to shop a lot out of boredom.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lotus Laura says:

        Yeah with January at the start of the year, there’s usually all those subscription renewals and they renew without warning!! Good luck in February, I hope it’s better for you! Oh yeah I know what you mean, I seem to find myself online shopping whenever I’m trying to avoid an important task!! It’s a bad habit!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        I don’t have my credit card saved on these sites which works well for me. If my credit card was saved, I would definitely be more tempted to shop online – they make it convenient on purpose. Also, if you do end buying something online, make sure that shipping is free! These extra costs are sneaky and add up. I rarely find good deals on Amazon and other popular sites so I stopped using these sites altogether.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. PoojaG says:

    I had heard about Swagbucks but hadn’t thought about joining it till now. I think I will definitely look into it and of course use your link if I decide to join! I’m glad this challenge helped you learn more about your spending habits and how you can cut down on certain things. Like you said you don’t need to stop completely just be more mindful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      That would be amazing if you used my link to join – very much appreciated! ♥️ Yes, they have Starbucks gift cards and also offer discounted gift cards throughout the year. I know that you can redeem a $50 Starbucks gift card for 3900 SB instead of 5000 SB, so you’re basically getting a $50 Starbucks gift card for $39 worth of points 🙂 Usually, I try to redeem $25 gift cards for Tim Hortons priced at 1875 SB ($18.75 worth of points) 🙂

      Amazon gift cards start at $5 and are always discounted no matter what, and with their gift card discounts/sales it’s even faster to claim these. They also have paypal gift cards, Nintendo gift cards, and lots of other options.

      P.S. Tim Hortons offers a rewards program on their Tims App so I’ve been using Tim rewards to get free Steeped Tea as well 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • PoojaG says:

        Ooh very interesting- I will definitely check out Swagbucks. I don’t get Tim’s very often so I probably won’t get the App but SB sounds good since I get stuff from Amazon sometimes and gift cards would be helpful.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        If you have any questions about getting started with Swagbucks, feel free to ask me. If you earn 300 SB within 30 days of signing up, you get a 300 SB ($3 value) bonus! By using my referral, I would also be getting a 300 SB bonus! SB are fairly easy to accumulate with minimal effort, and it’s fun. Tbh It’s my favourite site to earn free gift cards! 😊💕

        Liked by 1 person

      • PoojaG says:

        Awesome I will definitely let you know if I have any questions or anything! Thanks for letting everyone know about this app I don’t think I would have tried it if I hadn’t read this 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        I was wondering if you ended up creating an account? I didn’t see anything on my end (yes, I can see if someone signs up similar to how WP shows up demographics/views under stats). If you have any questions, you can reach out to me at any time 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Stuart Danker says:

    Wow, this looks like a solid run, Hilary. Keeping going when you face setbacks is more important than the actual goal sometimes. We tend to let perfection turn us into ‘yes or no’ people, when there’s a lot of in-between where we can achieve great things. I enjoyed this post. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      After doing the No Spend Challenge, I am leaning more towards low-buys now rather than no-buys. February ended up being a low-buy month which was nice. Yes, we humans like to be perfectionists, with an all-or-nothing mindset 😅 Thanks for reading!!

      Like

  5. Karalee says:

    24 no spend days is amazing! & that’s great you took what you learned from January & you’re now using a planner to track your spending & giving yourself a budget for Dollarama.
    That’s awesome you got $50 worth of gift cards for Tim Hortons!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      I have been so busy during the month of February that I still have money on the Tim Horton’s gift card (about $19 left of $50). It’s must less tempting to buy things when there is no time to buy things LOL

      Ironically, I am supposed to be making money this month and haven’t been paid yet. You would think that I would be more tempted to splurge knowing that a paycheck is [hopefully] coming, but I haven’t really been inclined to buy stuff. 😅

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        I’m surprised that I still have the gift card, and I plan on using it this month. I’m really trying to take advantage of the promotions at various places. For instance, MCDs just had a great promotion on coffee, lattes etc. so I was going there for the past few weeks. Now that the promotion is over, I see myself switching back to Tim Hortons so I can use up that gift card! 😅

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Oh no…. the purpose isn’t to make ourselves feel bad but to use it as a visual reminder to see where we can improve. It’s all about improving oneself rather than feeling like we “failed” at the challenge. The great thing about having a visual reminder is that it forces us to be mindful about what we are spending our money on.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Thank you so much, Missybeelondon! 🙂 I’m a visual person and find that a print-out copy works better for me than a digital version (both versions are available on her site for free) Since February, I haven’t been tracking day-to-do but I do track my monthly bills. I’ve managed to keep them in check and haven’t been shopping that much. I also started working so I’m staying busy these days (less time to shop).

      Liked by 1 person

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