Have A No Spend Challenge To Prepare For The Holidays And Give Thanks

Ah, Thanksgiving.  A time to connect with family and friends, cherish one another, and, let’s be honest–eat!

The turkey, the potatoes, the gravy, the rolls. . .Some people literally spend weeks thinking about the food and a day or more making the food.

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Thanksgiving was first celebrated in 1621 by the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Indians.  The Pilgrims had come to the new world a year before.  There had been 102 settlers, but in the year before Thanksgiving, half of them died (History.com).  Clearly, there was great reason to celebrate during the first Thanksgiving, especially since the Indians had taught the Pilgrims how to grow crops, and they had had a successful harvest.

Nearly 400 years later, we’re quite removed from the sentiments of the original Thanksgiving.  Instead, we think of Thanksgiving as a day to eat a lot, watch football, and get ready for Black Friday, and with it the launch of the holiday shopping season.

This November, why not bring some of the thanks back in Thanksgiving.

Most of us who reside in the United States are very spoiled.  Even if money is tight, we can still likely buy the things that we need.  Most of us have more than enough money to meet our basic needs.  (And I’m not including cell phones and other technology as a basic need.)

To appreciate what you have, why not have a no spend challenge in November?

What Are The Parameters Of A No Spend Challenge?

no spend challengeUltimately, you determine your own parameters.  However, when I have a no spend challenge, I like to make it challenging.  For instance, if you normally spend $1,500 a month on groceries, gas, entertainment and dining out, see if you can get by with just spending $500.  You’ll still have money for the necessities, but you’ll definitely feel a pinch in your lifestyle.

That’s exactly what you want.

A pinch in your lifestyle will remind you how truly blessed you are and how much you already have.  We live in a world where everything is instantaneous.  Maybe you decide that you want spaghetti and salad for dinner.  If you don’t have pasta, you just run to the store and buy what you need without even thinking about it.

A no spend challenge reminds you that for many, many people, life isn’t so convenient.  If you want pasta but you don’t have it, rather than running to the store, when you have a no spend challenge, you simply find something else to eat.

Part of a no spend challenge is finding that you already have most of what you need.

It’s about learning to be grateful for what you do have.

What Should You Do With The Money You Save?

In the past, I’ve used the money saved from a no spend challenge to right a budget that has slipped into the red or to find money to pay off debt.

However, if you’re already in the black, you could use the money to save for something, or you could be altruistic and donate the money to a good cause or to buy food to go in a basket for someone less fortunate at Thanksgiving.

Taking The Materialism Out Of The Holidays

Every year, the holidays seem to be less about giving thanks and more about materialistic gains.  So much money is spent over the holidays, much of it needlessly.

The Pilgrims enjoyed Thanksgiving because a difficult year was behind them.  They lost half of their population, but they had learned to grow their own crops, and they were becoming more successful.

We owe it to ourselves and our ancestors to be thankful for all that we have.  A no spend month is a perfect way to bring our thanksgiving into focus.

How do you bring an attitude of gratitude to the holiday festivities?

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Last Edited: 8th November 2013

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  1. says

    I love this idea. It is so easy to lose the ideas behind the holidays in all the financial fuss around them. The idea behind Thanksgiving is really togetherness – which isn’t an expensive thing at all. You can even cut down on food costs a lot by skipping the instant version of things and making stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc. from scratch together. You could skip the big feast all together and go volunteer at a food pantry or homeless shelter for the day as a family too.

  2. says

    I wish we could do a complete “no spend” challenge, but for now we’re just on budget lockdown because I got laid off. We are spending less and less in our daily life and it feels great to get down to the core of what makes us happy. It’s not shiny new toys or fancy dinners at a restaurant — it’s having a picnic with the family or finding a new use for something we thought was beyond repair.

  3. says

    Not a bad idea at all! Sacrifice is a great means toward introspection

    Although, if I did it, I would make it more of a “spend less” challenge, because I need to eat some things :)

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