How much could you save in a week?
We’ve challenged a selection of our team, content creators and the public to only spend their money on the essentials for one week. Check out the My No Spend Week hub for some inspiration on saving. Maybe a ‘no spend’ week could change how you view your spending habits?
We’ve quizzed our diarists on how they feel about their spending habits before their challenge week and then after, how they might approach saving and spending in the future. Today we’re hearing from Max.
I'm Max Emerson, I currently work for Trent Bridge Community Trust in West Bridgford, running a project called the YouNG project - which is all about helping young people get vital employability skills. During lockdown I created a YouTube channel called "Max Talks" where I make videos about personal finance (hence my interest in the My No Spend Week!), job searching and personal development.
Are you a saver?
I wouldn’t really say I have any terrible spending habits to be honest, I’m fairly frugal with my money, even if I go out I try not to go too crazy. Whenever I do spend money, I try and spend it on things that will last. I’m fairly good at saving money, I always try to reduce my spending as I’m not a very materialistic person, so any money I do spend tends to go on consumables or experiences. My main method of saving is to automatically save money via a Direct Debit. As soon as my pay check comes in the amount I wish to save is automatically transferred in to my Lifetime ISA and my investment account.
My biggest spending change during the pandemic has just been cutting down on experiential spending including meals out and going to the pub. This has meant I’m probably saving an additional £100 or so a month. Savings wise, lockdown gave me an opportunity to reflect on my habits and evaluate whether savings accounts were really for me and if there was a better way of making my money go further. I came across stocks and shares ISAs and started researching the best ways to get the most out of investing. I’ve found this a very effective way of maximising my savings so far, and with a long term focus, I’m hoping it will do well.
The Nottingham says: "As with all investing when dealing with stocks and shares, your capital is at risk. The value of your portfolio can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invest."
I have a Lifetime ISA so I’m saving for a house first and foremost, plus the Government bonus on a LISA is a better guaranteed annual return on investment than anything else out there so I am trying to maximise that to save for a house. After that, I don’t have anything major to save for apart from retirement – which is a long time away but I can also use my Lifetime ISA for this once I've bought my house.
I’d always like to save more money, I think saving money is very empowering as it means there are more things you can do with it further down the line. Of course I’m not saying money makes you happy but it will give me the freedom to do what I want later in life and I’m of the mindset that if I sacrifice some money now, to some extent then later I will reap the rewards as my money works for me.
Take the No Spend Challenge
Went to work! Nothing much to report on this day as I didn’t have much opportunity to spend money even if I wanted to. I made coffee at work so I saved money on whatever extortionate price coffee from a coffee shop is (£3+?). It’s surprising how quickly coffee can add up if it becomes a daily expense. After work I also started editing my YouTube video for the week, this again I do at home to minimise cost for transport. I also walk to get to work every day so I don’t have to pay for public transport.
Worked from home, meaning I had instant coffee from home and a homemade lunch (I always try to bring a packed lunch to work too as meal deals can add up too!). I did a supermarket shop the Sunday before this challenge to minimise any grocery spending I would be doing in this week.
I bought milk even though I consider this an 'essential' item, this is a noteworthy item for the diary. Only cost £1.25 for 4 pints, even tried to minimise the spending on milk! Work as per usual, followed by some virtual quiz entertainment in the evening with some friends. This is something my friends and I started doing during lockdown in around May time and we have kept it going every week since. It’s great because we can catch up on a weekly basis and we have unusual quiz questions and rounds which you probably wouldn’t get in a pub quiz, what’s more – it’s FREE!
After work, recorded a podcast virtually, again saving on the cost of renting out a studio or going to a coffee shop to record. This was actually really fun and once again FREE! If none of you have ever tried out going on a podcast, I’d recommend it. Following this, I played some online games with some friends, this form of evening entertainment has become a lot more common during lockdown and although it isn’t the same as seeing people in person, it’s free virtual entertainment!
Worked from home again today. After work, some people may go out for a meal but especially given the climate and the fact I’m doing a My No Spend Week, I ensured each of my meals would be home-cooked this week to minimise cost. Whenever I think about ordering food in, I find it difficult to justify it to myself, as the prices are often over-inflated for the fact of convenience. So I try to avoid this unless I’m either REALLY lazy or REALLY busy.
Today was the only day I spent on something classed as 'non-essential', however, it was still a bargain! I used an app called Too Good to Go where you are able to get leftover food for a fraction of the price from restaurants and cafes. You pay a specified amount for a 'Magic Bag' which could contain anything from what the restaurant sells and you go and collect it at a certain time. This app is excellent as it helps to reduce waste as the restaurants get rid of any excess stock they might have and the customer gets an amazing deal on their food.
I thought of this as my treat for the week, so went to Auntie Anne’s pretzels and bought a 'Magic Bag' for £3.59 and for this I got two cinnamon sugar coated pretzel sticks and 1 large vanilla sugar coated pretzel. This was an amazing deal as ordinarily if you get either a large pretzel or pretzel sticks, they cost about £3.50 each! So even though I spent £3.59, I technically saved £7, bargain! If anyone hasn’t tried Too Good To Go, I would really recommend it. The rest of the day was spent at home finishing off editing my YouTube video for the week.
Today marks the last day of My No Spend Week. Nothing noteworthy happened today, I made myself several hot drinks in the morning at home, again saving on the cost of going to a coffee shop or cafe. I went to the park to play some football, again utilising public space to save some money and have some free weekend entertainment. My week is capped off by writing this diary!
I didn’t really find the My No Spend Week challenge too difficult to be honest. Like I said, I'm not a big spender the only thing I really missed spending on was maybe a treat here and there, although realistically this would probably only come to another £2 per week so it wasn’t too bad. I found the week in general absolutely fine and pretty similar to an average week to be honest!
It’s difficult to calculate what I saved in comparison to normal but probably between £2 and £5. I didn’t really have many purchases to consider in order to change my mindset but I wanted to buy the Magic Bag from Too Good To Go to showcase what an amazing money saver it is and how you can get things a lot cheaper! I think I should try the challenge over a month and see what happens as maybe a week isn't long enough for me to see what happens?
Your No Spend Week?
So, what do you think? Could you go a whole week and only spend on essentials? No treats or coffees or new clothes? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook and if you’d like to write your own ‘My No Spend Week’ diary – send us an email telling us all about yourself to firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out our range of savings accounts and our Essential Savings Guides too for some more tips and tricks for saving money.
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