No Spend Week Challenge Results: How I bought nothing for a week!

I challenged myself with a No Spend Week Challenge early in the year to push myself a little harder to see what happens if I try to not buy anything for a week. You can read about the rules and exceptions I’ve set for myself for this challenge.

Here’s how the challenge went.

My No Spend Week Challenge Journal

Sunday: I woke up early as usual and made breakfast. I made a large burrito using some salami and cheese that I found in the fridge and topped off with scrambled eggs. Easy peasy! I spent the rest of the morning watching shows on Netflix while sipping some Pu’er tea. Lunch was instant noodles with frozen dumplings that I found in the freezer. I spent the rest of the afternoon strolling along Bishan Park. The weather was nice and breezy. I then returned home for dinner. First day completed with ease!

Monday: The first work day of the week went by faster than I expected. I skipped breakfast as I’m trying to fast intermittently in the early part of the day and have lunch as my first meal of the day. I found a can of cream of mushroom in the pantry that’s been around for a long time and decided to cook that for lunch. I added chopped up bits of winter salami that I bought in Budapest during last year’s vacation and the combination worked like a charm. I also toasted some garlic bread to go with the soup as well. When you have a fixed schedule like work, time goes by really quickly before it’s time to go home. The only change I made today is that instead of going to the shopping mall after work, I headed home straight away to avoid being tempted to spend money.

Tuesday: Day 3 had a different challenge on its own. I found that we have way too many frozen dumplings (my mum seemed to love buying them) so I decided to make them for lunch. I purchased a bottle of Lao Gan Ma chilli because we ran out (so that didn’t break any rules) and made a very basic version of Sichuan Spicy Wonton in Red Oil (红油抄手) for lunch. I also brought along the last 2 char siew pau (I don’t think they would last very long in the fridge so best to eat them) just in case the dumplings don’t fill me up. The real challenge was a meeting with a headhunter at Starbucks to discuss about some of the roles that she wanted to recruit me for. I decided not to order drinks since it was a No Spend Week and the headhunter did not order any drinks as well. Maybe it was because the queue was long and it would be awkward for her to have a drink while the candidate wasn’t having one. This might just be one thing I would consider making an exception for in future challenges.

Wednesday: Today was a tough one. I wanted to get back on my morning bike rides so I hopped on my bike and went cycling with my usual crew at 5 am in the morning. We did about 40 km and that made me crave for food. I resisted buying drinks at the rest stop and I was glad the water I had with me was just enough to last the ride. Back home, I found a packet of frozen prata in the freezer (who knew right?) so I made one for breakfast, together with a hard boiled egg. I prepared my work lunch last night since I was going cycling in the morning. Essentially just some dried noodles with a spicy chill sauce (using Lao Gan Ma chilli sauce with vinegar and soy sauce) coupled with a few meatballs. They worked really well for a packed lunch. I even made some Vietnamese quick pickled carrots as a side dish. Yummy!

Thursday: I screwed up! The day went well with a simple egg and spam burrito for lunch as I was planning to attend a lunch event. That didn’t happen due to a morning meeting that went longer than expected. What I forgot was that I had agreed to a meeting in the evening and won’t be home for dinner. So that means I had to break rule #1 which was no eating out. To keep the expense low, I decided to eat at a hawker center. Bummer!

Friday: Thank god it’s Friday! This was probably the easiest No Spend day by far. I didn’t even have to cook anything for lunch as there were leftover fried rice and braised pork belly from last night’s dinner. I decided to do some grocery shopping for this weekend and bought a roasted spring chicken and a packet of mozzarella cheese. A roasted spring chicken is always my favourite grocery purchase because I can usually creatively transform one into 4-5 meals.

Saturday: Last day and although it was a weekend, I had no plans so I stayed at home and relax. I toasted some garlic bread for breakfast while making early preparations for lunch. I placed the roasted chicken bones from the roasted spring chicken I bought last night in the slow cooker with cold water to make chicken broth. After a few hours in the pot, I added some vegetables into the broth to add more flavour. Once ready, I paired it with roasted chicken wings and a packet of udon. The day was spent catching up on China tv series while sipping Pu’er tea.

What I have learned in this challenge

I’ve learnt that it takes effort to truly excel in this challenge. In order to spend nothing on buying water, I had to remind myself to pack a bottle of water in my bag so that I could stay hydrated outdoors.

The ability to be creative with food ingredients and condiments plays a part as well because I had to be able to come up with 2-3 different dishes using similar ingredients so that I don’t get sick of eating the same thing over and over again. However, I don’t feel it’s important to be a good cook because there are tons of recipes and cooking instructional videos online to follow.

Starting the challenge on Sunday made the challenge easier to follow through for beginners as opposed to starting the challenge on Monday and having the weekend together towards the end.

Would I do a No Spend Challenge again?

It really depends on the objectives.

If the goal of the challenge is to save money, I don’t think I’d really save much since I’ve always been rather frugal with discretionary expenses.

But if the goal is to “eat down the pantry” and reduce the amount of food and ingredients in the pantry, I would deem the challenge worthy because it helps to reduce redundant foodstuff and wastage.

What do you think would be the biggest challenge for you if you were to challenge yourself with a No Spend Week Challenge?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Photo by Paulo Vizeu on Unsplash

Join me on a No Spend Week Challenge to buy nothing for a week

I first heard about no-spend challenge from an episode of the Stacking Benjamins podcast where Joe, OG, and the gang interviewed Jen Smith from Modern Frugality about how implementing No Spend Challenge helped her to compensate for budget flubs.

What is a No Spend Challenge?

When I googled about “No Spend Challenge”, I found that there were many other bloggers who did the challenge for different reasons.

For some, a No Spend Challenge could help to reset their budgets after overspending on a vacation, or to get back on track from spending on an unexpected expense. A No Spend Challenge can also be a great way to kickstart your savings or debt repayment on things like outstanding credit card debts with the money saved from the challenge.

I decided to challenge myself with a No Spend Week Challenge to reduce this month’s expenses as I purchased a nice tea set that wasn’t budgeted for.

Setting the rules for my No Spend Week Challenge

Since it’s a challenge, it makes sense to set some guidelines and parameters to follow.

Rule 1: No eating out/take-aways

Bulk of my expenses come from food expenditure. I intend to challenge myself to prepare lunchbox meals to bring to work for lunch instead of eating outside. I usually skip or have a light breakfast at home and dDinner is usually taken care by my family at home so there’s no eating out/take-away expenses incurred.

Rule 2: “Eat down the pantry”

It kind of defeats the purpose if I go down to supermarket and shop up a storm just to fulfil the first rule. So the second rule is try and prepare my breakfast and work lunch for the week using whatever is available in the kitchen.

Rule 3: Only take public transport

No taxi and Grab rides for this week. I usually take the train to get around so this rule is probably the easiest for me to accomplish.

Rule 4: No shopping

Needless to say, this No Spend Challenge means no spending on ‘wants’. That means no unnecessary shopping for this week. Other than window shopping, of course.

Rule 5: Free entertainment activities only

The last rule that I’m setting is to only find free activities for entertainment. I’ll probably have to crack my head a little but I’m sure I can find things to do.

Exceptions to the rules

For this challenge, I only have one exception that will qualify for spending money this week.

Exception 1: Only shop for essentials and groceries that can go with existing ingredients in the pantry

The only exception I’m giving myself permission to spend money is only for essential things that I need, like washing detergent, shaving cream, etc. and food ingredients that can help me cook existing ingredients that’s already in the pantry, such as carrots to go with spare rib soup.

Will I succeed in this challenge?

Do you think I will succeed in this? Check out my next post as I write about my No Spend Week Challenge.

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Simple tips for investors in bear markets

According to experts, the bull run is almost over. While there are mixed reviews on whether we are heading into bear market territory, what we know for sure is that the markets are very volatile right now.

For most investors, their portfolio is most likely in the red. My investment portfolio with Autowealth is down by close to 4%. It’s not as bad as the rest of many investors because my portfolio consists of a diversified portfolio of ETFs and I continue to average down every month.

I’m no investment expert so I’m not going to tell you what are the stocks to sell and what are the stocks to buy.

What I’m going to tell you (or think of this as a reminder if you have heard them before) in this article are common sense investment advice that everyone should follow.

Don’t panic and sell everything

“Running back to town and tell everyone the sky is falling when an acorn drops and hit you on the head while sleeping under a tree, was such a silly thing to do.” I’m sure that’s what Chicken Little would say now that he is 14 years older (the movie was out in 2005).

All you need to do is to look up and realise that the sky isn’t falling.

Stay calm and clear your head before you make any investment decision.

Believe in your investment strategy

Everyone has their own unique profile and circumstances. That’s why we create our own investment strategy that works for us.

In my case, I plan to retire by 50 so I have another 14 years of investment runway and a strong savings rate to my advantage. I can afford to have an aggressive asset allocation and wait for the market to recover. On the flip side, my lack of knowledge in investing techniques also means that I have to keep my investments simple and easy to understand.

I believe that what I’m doing is right so I am going to stay on course.

If you are feeling stressed about the market downturn, I advise you to look back at your investment strategy and decide if it’s still relevant. If it is, stay on course. If it isn’t, time to spend some time to update it.

And if you don’t have an investment strategy, this is the perfect time to create one.

Don’t try to time the market

Unless you have the time to do tons of research and attempt to predict future market price movements and have a huge cash stashed away to afford to make mistakes, I don’t recommend trying to time the market.

As the saying goes, time in the market is better than timing the market.

Markets are unpredictable so it would be wiser to spread your risk by diversifying your investments in a longer term strategy.

So what are you going to do?

If you’re the nervous Nellie who checks the prices of your investment portfolio every day to chart the prices, you might want to consider not looking at them for a while.

When the going gets tough, remember the long game.

You have a long term investment strategy and I trust that you will do well if you stick to it.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

>