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Everything You Need for a Successful No-Spend Challenge

No-spend challenge

In this post, we outline everything you need to know for a successful no-spend challenge.

A no-spend month or a no-spend challenge is where you don’t spend money in certain areas for a designated period. The rules are different for everyone, but the goal is to cut back on overspending and reevaluate your spending habits.

Everyone’s intention for the challenge will be different, but I’ll be sharing the rules that have helped me successfully do a no-spend challenge.

Why should you do a no-spend challenge?

It’s always a good idea to give your money a little reset, and a no-spend challenge is an excellent way to do so.

You will become more aware of your spending habits and understand how much money you can save by setting goals for yourself and placing limits on what you can and can’t spend.

The perks of taking on a no-spend challenge are:

  • Amp up your savings
  • Discover spots to funnel more money toward your goals
  • Bump up your investment game
  • Hit your financial goals
  • Get a handle on your spending habits.

Rules for Your No-Spend Challenge

What you can spend on:

  • housing
  • utilities
  • insurance
  • internet/phone
  • groceries {limited budget so you can use whats in your pantry already}
  • gas
  • pet supplies (if you have one)

What you can’t spend on:

  • eating out (yes no takeout either)
  • clothes/shoes
  • home decor
  • online shopping
  • anything that is a need vs a want

Exceptions:

While each person’s no-spend challenge will be unique, I like to include exceptions in my no-spend month.
 
For example, if there was a scheduled birthday party or other event that I was intending to attend, that would be categorized as an exception. Try to stay under three exceptions per no-spend challenge.

How to Start Your No-Spend Challenge:

If you don’t know where or how to start, here’s a simple guide:
 
1️⃣  Pick a start date: Choose a day to kick off your challenge. Let the money-saving games begin!
 
2️⃣  Set up your goals: Take a moment to jot down where you want to be in 30 days. Having clear goals will help you stay focused and motivated.
 
3️⃣  Define your expectations: This is the fun part. Decide what expenses are allowed during this challenge. Stick to the essentials, like groceries (sorry, no DoorDash takeout this time), transportation, bills, and necessary home expenses. 
 
4️⃣  Make it real: Whether you print out the template or import it into a program where you can work on it digitally, make sure you can easily track your progress over the next 30 days. It’s like creating a roadmap to financial freedom!
 
5️⃣  Stay Motivated: Keep your template in a place where you’ll see it every day. Let it be a constant reminder of your awesome money-saving mission. You’ve got more willpower than you realize!
 
6️⃣  Learn, grow, and save: This journey will teach you so much about your spending habits. Take notes, reflect on your progress, and embrace the opportunity to become a more savvy spender and saver. Your future self will thank you.

How to Make Your No-Spend Challenge Successful

First things first, know your why
It’s important to have a clear reason why you’re doing this challenge. Maybe you’re saving up for a vacation, trying to pay off debt, or just want to be more mindful with your money.
 
Whatever it is, remind yourself of your goals and why they’re important to you. Knowing your “why” will keep you motivated when things get tough.
 
Next, write out your expectations
Setting clear goals for your no-spend month will help you stay focused and accountable.
 
Jot down what you hope to accomplish during this challenge and refer back to it whenever you need a boost of determination.
 
Tracking your progress is also key
You can’t improve what you don’t measure, right? So make it a daily habit to keep track of your spending and any slip-ups during the challenge.
 
It’s not about beating yourself up over a little splurge, but rather being aware of your actions and learning from them.
 
Now, let’s talk food
Eating out can quickly drain your wallet, so why not challenge yourself to meal prep from your pantry? You’d be amazed at the delicious meals you can whip up using what you already have.
 
Get creative and make the most of those forgotten cans of beans and boxes of pasta. And when you do go grocery shopping, make sure to stick to a list. This way, you’ll avoid those unplanned purchases and be more mindful of what you’re bringing into your kitchen.
 
Remember, this challenge is not about depriving yourself or punishing your wallet. It’s about gaining control of your spending habits and making intentional choices with your money. 

Free Activities to Add to Your Routine During Your No-Spend Challenge

👉 Get your sweat on: Working out is a great way to use this time to get back into a workout routine. You’re already saving money, so why not make it a win-win by getting active?
 
👉 Learn something new on YouTube: Who needs expensive classes when YouTube is a treasure trove of knowledge? Dive into YouTube University and learn a new skill or hobby. The best part? It’s all FREE!
 
👉 Embrace the park life: Local parks are a godsend during a no-spend challenge. Grab a basketball, or soccer ball, or maybe even try your hand at pickleball. Most parks offer free access and provide a great opportunity for some social activities. You might even discover a new love for a sport!
 
👉 Declutter your space: Take advantage of the extra time you’ll have during the challenge and declutter your space. Go through your kitchen, bedroom, and office, and get rid of things you no longer need. A clean and organized space = a clear and focused mind.
 
👉 Negotiate those bills: Want to save even more money? Use this challenge as an excuse to call up your service providers and negotiate better rates. You’d be surprised at what kind of deals you can snag just by asking. Whether it’s your iPhone plan, WiFi, or even insurance, a little negotiating can go a long way.
 
👉 DIY spa day: If you’ve got a stash of spa, facial, or bath products hiding in your bathroom closet, now is the time to use them! Treat yourself to a relaxing DIY spa day at home. Not only will you be saving money, but you’ll also get a well-deserved pampering session.
 
👉 Dive into that book pile: Remember all those books you bought ages ago but never got around to reading? Now’s the perfect opportunity to finally dive into them. Get lost in a good story and let the time fly by.
 

These are just a few ideas that came to mind from my own experience with the no-spend challenge. Trust me, they’ll make your life easier when you’re looking for something free to do.

This post was all about, everything you need for a successful no-spend challenge.

Check out some other posts! ⬇️

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Everything You Need for a Successful No-Spend Challenge

This site contains affiliate links, view the disclosure for more information.

saving money with a no spend month
No-spend challenge

In this post, we outline everything you need to know for a successful no-spend challenge.

A no-spend month or a no-spend challenge is where you don’t spend money in certain areas for a designated period. The rules are different for everyone, but the goal is to cut back on overspending and reevaluate your spending habits.

Everyone’s intention for the challenge will be different, but I’ll be sharing the rules that have helped me successfully do a no-spend challenge.

Why should you do a no-spend challenge?

It’s always a good idea to give your money a little reset, and a no-spend challenge is an excellent way to do so.

You will become more aware of your spending habits and understand how much money you can save by setting goals for yourself and placing limits on what you can and can’t spend.

The perks of taking on a no-spend challenge are:

  • Amp up your savings
  • Discover spots to funnel more money toward your goals
  • Bump up your investment game
  • Hit your financial goals
  • Get a handle on your spending habits.

Rules for Your No-Spend Challenge

What you can spend on:

  • housing
  • utilities
  • insurance
  • internet/phone
  • groceries {limited budget so you can use whats in your pantry already}
  • gas
  • pet supplies (if you have one)

What you can’t spend on:

  • eating out (yes no takeout either)
  • clothes/shoes
  • home decor
  • online shopping
  • anything that is a need vs a want

Exceptions:

While each person’s no-spend challenge will be unique, I like to include exceptions in my no-spend month.
 
For example, if there was a scheduled birthday party or other event that I was intending to attend, that would be categorized as an exception. Try to stay under three exceptions per no-spend challenge.

How to Start Your No-Spend Challenge:

If you don’t know where or how to start, here’s a simple guide:
 
1️⃣  Pick a start date: Choose a day to kick off your challenge. Let the money-saving games begin!
 
2️⃣  Set up your goals: Take a moment to jot down where you want to be in 30 days. Having clear goals will help you stay focused and motivated.
 
3️⃣  Define your expectations: This is the fun part. Decide what expenses are allowed during this challenge. Stick to the essentials, like groceries (sorry, no DoorDash takeout this time), transportation, bills, and necessary home expenses. 
 
4️⃣  Make it real: Whether you print out the template or import it into a program where you can work on it digitally, make sure you can easily track your progress over the next 30 days. It’s like creating a roadmap to financial freedom!
 
5️⃣  Stay Motivated: Keep your template in a place where you’ll see it every day. Let it be a constant reminder of your awesome money-saving mission. You’ve got more willpower than you realize!
 
6️⃣  Learn, grow, and save: This journey will teach you so much about your spending habits. Take notes, reflect on your progress, and embrace the opportunity to become a more savvy spender and saver. Your future self will thank you.

How to Make Your No-Spend Challenge Successful

First things first, know your why
It’s important to have a clear reason why you’re doing this challenge. Maybe you’re saving up for a vacation, trying to pay off debt, or just want to be more mindful with your money.
 
Whatever it is, remind yourself of your goals and why they’re important to you. Knowing your “why” will keep you motivated when things get tough.
 
Next, write out your expectations
Setting clear goals for your no-spend month will help you stay focused and accountable.
 
Jot down what you hope to accomplish during this challenge and refer back to it whenever you need a boost of determination.
 
Tracking your progress is also key
You can’t improve what you don’t measure, right? So make it a daily habit to keep track of your spending and any slip-ups during the challenge.
 
It’s not about beating yourself up over a little splurge, but rather being aware of your actions and learning from them.
 
Now, let’s talk food
Eating out can quickly drain your wallet, so why not challenge yourself to meal prep from your pantry? You’d be amazed at the delicious meals you can whip up using what you already have.
 
Get creative and make the most of those forgotten cans of beans and boxes of pasta. And when you do go grocery shopping, make sure to stick to a list. This way, you’ll avoid those unplanned purchases and be more mindful of what you’re bringing into your kitchen.
 
Remember, this challenge is not about depriving yourself or punishing your wallet. It’s about gaining control of your spending habits and making intentional choices with your money. 

Free Activities to Add to Your Routine During Your No-Spend Challenge

👉 Get your sweat on: Working out is a great way to use this time to get back into a workout routine. You’re already saving money, so why not make it a win-win by getting active?
 
👉 Learn something new on YouTube: Who needs expensive classes when YouTube is a treasure trove of knowledge? Dive into YouTube University and learn a new skill or hobby. The best part? It’s all FREE!
 
👉 Embrace the park life: Local parks are a godsend during a no-spend challenge. Grab a basketball, or soccer ball, or maybe even try your hand at pickleball. Most parks offer free access and provide a great opportunity for some social activities. You might even discover a new love for a sport!
 
👉 Declutter your space: Take advantage of the extra time you’ll have during the challenge and declutter your space. Go through your kitchen, bedroom, and office, and get rid of things you no longer need. A clean and organized space = a clear and focused mind.
 
👉 Negotiate those bills: Want to save even more money? Use this challenge as an excuse to call up your service providers and negotiate better rates. You’d be surprised at what kind of deals you can snag just by asking. Whether it’s your iPhone plan, WiFi, or even insurance, a little negotiating can go a long way.
 
👉 DIY spa day: If you’ve got a stash of spa, facial, or bath products hiding in your bathroom closet, now is the time to use them! Treat yourself to a relaxing DIY spa day at home. Not only will you be saving money, but you’ll also get a well-deserved pampering session.
 
👉 Dive into that book pile: Remember all those books you bought ages ago but never got around to reading? Now’s the perfect opportunity to finally dive into them. Get lost in a good story and let the time fly by.
 

These are just a few ideas that came to mind from my own experience with the no-spend challenge. Trust me, they’ll make your life easier when you’re looking for something free to do.

This post was all about, everything you need for a successful no-spend challenge.

Check out some other posts! ⬇️

Filing Taxes for the First Time? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

Are you in a bind because you’ve never filed a tax return before? And to top it off, you just learned that you’ll need to file one this year? April 15th:

This site contains affiliate links, view the disclosure for more information.

filing your taxes
Are you in a bind because you’ve never filed a tax return before? And to top it off, you just learned that you’ll need to file one this year?
 
April 15th: Tax Day always falls on that date, unless April 15 falls on a weekend or holiday. 
 
If you are filing your taxes for the first time, we have everything you need to know. And yes, we will be sharing how to file your taxes for free (or at a super low cost).

In this post, we are sharing everything you need to know if you are filing taxes for the first time.

A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO FILING TAXES

Essential tips for all you first-time filers out there ⬇️

Figure Out If You Have to File a Tax Return

To determine if you need to file a tax return, there are a few key factors to consider. 
 
In general, if your gross income in 2023 was at least $13,850, you’ll likely need to file a tax return in 2024.
 
Keep in mind that different rules apply to married individuals, older Americans, and heads of household. 
 
It’s important to note that even if you can be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return, the $13,850 threshold still applies to you. 
 
If you are considered a dependent, you must file a return if you have accumulated at least $1,250 in “unearned” income, such as interest from investments.

Get Your Documents Together Early

 
Once you’ve determined that you need to file a tax return, it’s time to gather the necessary documents to complete it.
 
Here’s a list of essential documents to gather:
 
W-2: If you have a job, your employer is required to send you this form by the end of January. It provides details on your earnings for the previous year and the amount of tax withheld.
 
1099s: These forms report income that doesn’t come directly from a traditional employer. They include earnings from freelance work, “gig” pay, interest and dividend income, as well as income from third-party platforms like Venmo and PayPal.
 
Receipts: As a first-time taxpayer, it’s important to start keeping records of transactions that may need to be reported on your tax form. This includes income, expenses, and potential deductions. For example, keep track of any charitable donations you make or significant medical bills you incur.
 
By gathering these essential documents, you’ll be well-prepared to complete your tax return accurately and efficiently.

Gather Important Personal information

You’ll need the following personal information on hand to file taxes:
 
  • Social Security Number (SSN) or Taxpayer Identification Number
  • (TIN) for yourself and any dependents
  • Full name and date of birth for all individuals on your return.
  • Proof of identity with a valid photo ID
  • Bank account information, including your routing and account numbers, if you want to receive your tax refund via direct deposit.

Figure Out If Someone Can Claim You as a Dependent

 
It’s important to determine whether someone can claim you as a dependent, especially if you’re living with your parents or receiving any financial support from them.
 
According to TurboTax, parents can claim you as a dependent if you’re under 19 years of age, or under 24 and a full-time student, and they provide more than half of your financial support.
 
While parents can receive tax benefits by claiming you as a dependent, it’s also crucial for you to report this dependent status on your own tax return. 
 
Be sure to check with your parents and discuss whether they plan to claim you as a dependent and how it may affect your taxes. Always stay informed to ensure that you’re taking all the necessary steps towards financial success.

Figure Out If Someone Can Claim You as a Dependent

 
It’s important to determine whether someone can claim you as a dependent, especially if you’re living with your parents or receiving any financial support from them.
 
According to TurboTax, parents can claim you as a dependent if you’re under 19 years of age, or under 24 and a full-time student, and they provide more than half of your financial support.
 
While parents can receive tax benefits by claiming you as a dependent, it’s also crucial for you to report this dependent status on your own tax return. 
 
Be sure to check with your parents and discuss whether they plan to claim you as a dependent and how it may affect your taxes. Always stay informed to ensure that you’re taking all the necessary steps towards financial success.

Determine Your Tax Filing Status:

Here are the five primary filing statuses: 
 
  • Single: If you’re unmarried.  
  • Married (filing jointly): For married couples who want to combine their income on one return.
  • Married (filing separately): For married couples filing separately.
  • Head of household: For unmarried individuals who support dependents.
  • Qualifying widow/widower with dependent child: If you’re a surviving spouse with a dependent child. 
 
Include the appropriate filing status on your forms, when filing your taxes for the first time.

Find Out If You Qualify for Deductions or Credits

 
When it comes to taxes, deductions and credits can both help decrease your overall tax liability. Tax deductions work by reducing the amount of your income that is taxable while tax credits decrease the amount of tax you owe.
 
For first-time taxpayers, there are a few common deductions and credits that may apply:
 
  • The student loan interest deduction is one example of a deduction and can possibly result in a maximum deduction of $2,500 for the interest paid on student loans.
 
  • The American Opportunity Tax Credit is a credit that can be claimed by those individuals for whom no one can claim as a dependent, allowing for up to $2,500 credit for college expenses.
 
  • The Earned Income Tax Credit may be an option for individuals who earned a low income in 2023. It is essential to consult the IRS tables for information on how to qualify for this credit based on your income level.
 
  • Lifetime Learning Credit: A credit that helps cover the costs of post-secondary education, including tuition and related expenses, for eligible students. 
 
  • Educational expenses deduction: This deduction covers certain educational expenses. 
 
  • Home Energy Tax Credits: A credit for homeowners who make qualifying energy-efficient home upgrades.
 
  • Energy Efficient Home Improvement Credit: A credit for homeowners investing in energy-efficient home improvements. 
Deductions and credits can be a valuable tool when it comes to claiming your taxes.
 
Getting your taxable amount to the lowest possible is important if you want to pay less in taxes. It’s crucial to research which ones may apply to your situation and take advantage of them while preparing your tax return.

Decide if You Need Help

If you’re a first-time taxpayer, you have the option of either doing your own taxes or hiring a professional. 
 
Many Gen-Z individuals choose to do their own taxes, which is generally fine if your tax situation is straightforward.
 
By taking the DIY approach, you can potentially save money and complete your tax return quickly using tax software or the official IRS Free File program.
 
 Calculate your estimated Tax Return using Turbo Tax.

Completing Your Tax Filing

 
Once you’re prepared to file your taxes, it’s important to ensure the accuracy of your tax return. Take the time to review your personal information, income, deductions, and credits for any errors or omissions.
 
Online Filing: If you choose to file online, the platform you use will typically guide you through the process. Before proceeding from one page to the next, carefully verify the information provided for an easier filing experience.
 
 
Tax Professional Assistance: When working with a tax professional, they are responsible for reviewing their work. However, it’s crucial to provide them with accurate information from the start. If needed, ask for a walkthrough of your return to gain additional peace of mind.
 
Nonprofit Organization Assistance: If you’re seeking help from a nonprofit organization, you might be required to attend in-person sessions and bring all necessary documents. The organization will then assist you in submitting your tax return.
 
Paper Filing: If you opt for paper filing, complete all mandatory forms accurately, attach supporting documents, and send the package to the appropriate IRS address. Take the time to double-check everything before mailing your return, and remember to include a signed and dated copy.
 
It’s crucial to file your return by the tax deadline to avoid any late penalties. For the 2024 tax year, the deadline is April 15, 2024.

Pay the IRS if you owe taxes

After filing your taxes, you’ll either receive a tax refund or a notice of the amount you owe to the IRS. If you end up owing money, you’ll need to know how to pay what you owe.
 
You have a few options:
 
  • Use IRS Direct PayThis online service lets you pay your tax bill directly from your bank account. It’s a secure and convenient way to pay the IRS without any fees. 
  • Pay with a credit or debit card: You can pay your taxes using a credit or debit card through authorized payment processors, but this method includes fees. 
  • Pay in installments: If you can’t pay your tax bill in full, you may be eligible for an installment payment plan with the IRS. This allows you to pay your tax debt over time in manageable installments. 
Whichever method you choose, pay what you owe on time to avoid any penalties.

Common Tax Mistakes to Avoid For First-Time Filers

  • Misreporting any earned income
  • Not claiming qualified deductions or credits
  • Forgetting to sign and date your Tax return
  • Missing the date to file
  • Not keeping organized and accurate records.
  • Inaccurate Filing Status

This post was all about, everything you need to know before filing your taxes for the first time.

Check out our other posts ⬇️

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