Replacement-basis challenge: Weeks 3 & 4, and conclusions

Replacement basis challenge and not going shopping so often

Last month I tried out a 30-day ‘replacement basis only’ spending challenge. Essentially this was as close as possible to a no-spend challenge, but modified to make it more practical.

Let’s face it, a no-spend challenge fails the moment you have to buy replacement groceries, so it can’t last for very long. It’s not possible to carry one out for a whole month, so you have to make different rules, including allowing the purchase of basic foods, cleaning products, toiletries and so on.

The replacement-basis spending challenge I came up with was therefore a low-spend exercise, or you could look at it as a no-spend challenge without cheating. Yes, I’ve seen other similar initiatives advertised as ‘no-spend’, but I do feel that’s potentially misleading and confusing, so I prefer to keep the rules nice and clear.

How Week 3 and Week 4 went

We ended up buying two standard weekly ‘big shops’ at the supermarket, which was the usual basic groceries and within our normal allocated budget. Apart from that we didn’t buy any material goods.

I did almost forget during Week Three that I was supposed to be doing this challenge, and almost bought something I wasn’t supposed to on Vinted. Damn their pesky price drop alerts, they’re perfectly designed to provoke a knee jerk spending reaction. Almost got carried away there for a moment, but luckily remembered what I was supposed to be doing.

There was a bit of socialising and going out, which was allowed in the challenge because it’s experiences rather than physical things. We tried out a new cocktail bar (Three Sheets Soho, which was excellent), got some cut-price theatre tickets, and went to a new restaurant the day after their opening night.

Then unfortunately Beau got some kind of virus during Week Four and had to rest and get better. I went out and bought him some extra food and painkillers, but fortunately this was allowed within the original replacement-basis-only challenge rules. He’s back to his usual healthy self this week.

Replacement Basis Challenge when someone is ill

Conclusions and next steps

The Replacement Basis Challenge has been easy enough to stick to, and hasn’t felt stressful in the way some full-on no-spend challenges do. Next time I’ll probably set a fixed budget for socialising, as it’s just a little bit too easy to go over the top.

Interestingly, I didn’t have an urge to splurge or dash to the shops right after the month was up. Sometimes this happens after a Tenner Week and I have to remember to be mindful about ‘rebound spending’ afterwards.

Once the month was over I did do some replacement-basis skincare shopping because I was running out of cleanser (new product reviews coming soon, no doubt). At that point I also picked up a couple of reasonably-priced new bits and bobs because I wasn’t restricted any more, but definitely didn’t go over the top.

What next? I saved quite a lot, cleared some clutter and had a very enjoyable month, so I think I’ll happily try this again next year.

Maybe it could become an annual event on this site during February from now on. There could be a little more structure so it’s easy for everyone to join in, and we could even have a different month-long theme each time.

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What do you think about having a more structured Replacement Basis Challenge for everyone to join in with?

Is February a good month to choose, or should it be another time of year? Let us know in the comments below.

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