I’m a mum and saved £600 with a simple money-saving challenge – I couldn’t believe how easy it was and you can do it too

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A SAVVY mum has revealed how she managed to save £500 by doing a simple money-saving challenge.

Sophie Bradbury embarked on “no-spend” month in January in an effort to save cash after the expensive festive season.

Sophie decided to try “no-spend January” after having an expensive December

Sophie shared how she got on with her social media followers

A no spend challenge is when you go for a set period of time without spending any money, other than on essentials like food and bills.

This could be a week, weekends, or a whole month like Sophie did.

The 24-year-old from Brighton took on the challenge to save cash for a family holiday later this year – and couldn’t believe the results.

Sophie was thrilled at how much she saved and it changed her money habits for good, she told HOAR.

Although it had its tough moments, she said: “It was really helpful to have a money reset and save a bulk of money in one go.

“I’m definitely going to do more no spend weeks and months in the future.

“It’s also changed my money habits in general as I realised we don’t have to spend to have a nice time.”

The mum-of-one to son Albie, two-and-a-half, started out by listing all her outgoings and then putting them in a list of essentials” and “non-essentials”.

Sophie and partner Adam, 26, an accountant, spend £2,200 a month on essentials that are non-negotiable.

They usually give themselves £300 a month each for non-essentials like clothes, days out, meals out – including bits for Albie too.

But they were determined to get this down to zero.

Here she shares how she did it and tips for how others can do it too – including those who are on even tighter budgets.

Deleting shopping apps to avoid temptation

Sophie, who shared her no-spend month with her TikTok followers and on her blog where she goes by MillennialMumma, cut back by deleting every single shopping app on her phone.

Sophie told HOAR: “I dread to think how much I used to spend on Amazon alone, but I was guilty of late night shopping and spending £20 to £30 each time – a few times a week.

“I realised that I was just bored and shopping for that dopamine hit.”

Instead Sophie created a “want list”. Whenever she got the urge to shop she wrote it down rather than buying it straight away.

She found that by the next day she was over it anyway and avoided spending cash.

“It also means when I do have some spare money I can go to my list and splurge on something I know I really want,” she added.

Sophie also said she’s yet to re-download the Amazon app in a bid to “avoid temptation”.

Removing your Apple or Android Pay details from your phone is another way to make it less easy to hit that buy now button.

Cancelling costly subscriptions

Another way Sophie managed to save herself money was by cancelling all unnecessary subscriptions.

She said: “I was furious to realise I had been spending £10 on a Duolingo subscription for months!

“I thought I was on top of all my subscriptions but clearly not.”

Sophie said she doesn’t even remember ever subscribing to the app, and thinks she must have signed up for the free trial at some point.

She added: “I didn’t even have the app on my phone and I was paying them monthly!” 

“I had a follower message me to say they had been paying monthly for the DVLA driving theory app  and they passed their test in 2019.

“So it’s definitely worth checking those subscriptions.”

Checking your bank statement is a good place to start and do it regularly in case you’ve unwittingly been moved from a free trial to a paid-for subscription.

It’s also an important place to start your challenge and identify where you can make cut backs.

Sophie said: “I will definitely say make sure your essentials spend list is really detailed and make sure you know exactly where each penny is going.

“It’s really important to look through your bank account beforehand and see where your money is actually going.

“People might not think they spend much on non-essentials but when you actually go back and look you’ll be really shocked.”

Apps like Snoop can flag up recurring spends so you can spot if you’re paying out for something you weren’t aware of.

Walking to save £££s on fuel

Saving money by walking instead of driving was another easy switch the mum made to save a bit of cash.

Sophie said that because she has quite an old car, it’s an “absolute fuel guzzler” and they usually spend around £200 filling up every month.

Sophie reckons she spent just £80 in January on petrol – saving £120 from what is usually essential spending.

While many car journeys are essential it’s worth looking at your driving habits and switching any short or simple ones for your feet or a bike if you have one.

If you do have to drive, you can try to fill up your tank for less by checking where the cheapest fuel in your area is using sites like PetrolPrices.com.

Fun and food for free

Sophie said she had to “change her mindset” to complete the challenge.

This meant planning ahead for food and activities to avoid spending cash.

She said: “I had to really make sure I was organised with planning no-spend activities and making packed lunches – before I’d pop out and ‘just grab lunch’ or ‘grab a drink’ and it was all adding up really quickly.

“Before no-spend Jan, we would spend a lot of time going to farms, soft play or just popping into town to find something to do.

“Even going to soft play would end up costing £10 entry plus £15 on lunch and extras on drinks.

“So instead we spent much more time outside, which was difficult some days with the weather.”

The family also made use of their local library which has free resources and even free classes and activities for children.

Your local council may have similar resources and activities for kids too, it’s always worth having a look at yours for what’s on offer.

She said: “If anyone wants to do a no spend month I would say make sure to plan the entire month out with activities and free days out, otherwise it will become really boring.”

Sophie said they spent much more time visiting family and friends at home too.

“Rather than meeting people in cafes, we would invite them over or go theirs which saved lots of money as even a few £5 coffees a week quickly ads up,” she said.

The change is something they plan to carry on with and have “barely” eaten out in February.

Now they always make sure to take drinks and snacks out to avoid unnecessary spending.

Sophie said that planning what meals the family is eating has also helped reduce their overall spending on food “massively”.

“The only thing I found hard towards the end was missing out on social events and outings,” Sophie said.

“I think if we were to do it again we would still have an allocated spending amount for socialising.”

Other money saving challenges you could try

If you think a no-spend month might be too tough, there’s plenty other challenges you could give a go to save cash.

The MoneySavingExpert 1p challenge sees you save a penny more each day for a whole year, and you’ll end up with nearly £668 if you stick to it.

The Rainy Day challenge relies on Mother Nature. If you want to build up a pot of cash for a rainy day, why not use every downpour as a reminder to save?

Decide on a set amount that is manageable for you to set aside on each day that it rains.

How much you save in total will depend where you are in the country, but last year it rained on 151 days in the UK, according to the Met Office.

So if you’d saved £1 each wet day you’d have £151 or if you’d doubled it to £2, you’d have £302 put aside.

For more money saving challenges see our roundup.

Sophie says she will continue spending less after her no spend month

Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

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