No spend challenges are very popular these days. And if you love them, great! If a no spend challenge affords you a healthy relationship with money that is an awesome thing. I want and AM encouraging people to have a HEALTHY relationship with money. A no spend challenge just is not the way to do that for me.

My relationship with money is similar to my relationship with food. I do not believe in depriving myself. In fact, it is reverse psychology at its finest. The thought that I can’t buy anything makes me want to buy all the things! I wholeheartedly believe that treating yourself, when feasible, is necessary as long as it’s within your means.

The key to enjoying your money is managing your money. So how do I manage to save and spend?

  1. Detailed accounting.

I track EVERY SINGLE DIME of our money using THIS. It’s important to see your money move in real time. It encourages accountability and helps you stick to your budget. It’s much harder to tell yourself a false narrative when the truth is staring you in the face.

  1. Make your money work for you.

Since I love two contradictory things, saving and spending, I am continuously looking for ways in which they can offset one another. Shopping sales is a good first step. (I rarely buy anything at full price.) But putting your money in an interest bearing checking or savings account and using hassle free referral programs like Ebates will take you to a whole new level! There’s nothing like getting cash back every month or quarter. It’s not an excuse to shop more, but if you’re shopping anyway, it’s pretty much a no-brainer.

Side note: If you want to sign up for Ebates use this link to earn $10 after you spend at least $25!

  1. Set up a “fun” fund.

Speaking of checking accounts, I encourage you to set up a separate “fun” fund. Decide on a payment schedule in which you will pay this fund just as an employer would pay you. This way you always know exactly how much money you have to play with. Do not let yourself purchase fun things with money outside of this account. It’s helpful if you have frequent urges to buy things to have money aside, but it’s also useful when you’re saving up for something special.

  1. Only shop from your wish list.

I am always curating a wish list. I keep one in my phone and one in each planner. I set a maximum price I’m willing to pay for the items on said wish list. I also assign a use for the item before I purchase it. This forces me to do a couple of things: a. research the item and have a purpose for it (so I don’t have things sitting unused) and b. become familiar with trends.

Most fun items aren’t urgent. So even if I really want an item this month, I will wait months to purchase it if I know it’s likely to be on sale during a particular time of year. You might also be surprised how much stuff you decide you don’t want or have a use for when you have to wait for it. This saves you money and reduces the amount of stuff you would have sitting around your house.

  1. Sell your old stuff.

Ask yourself: is the thing you want comparable to something you already have? Is it likely to replace something you already own? If the answer is yes, try to sell the one you already have! It’s kind of like making and spending money simultaneously without moving a dime of the liquid money in your “fun” fund. I would call that a win-win!

These are just a few ways I spend RESPONSIBLY. There is a healthy balance to taking care of your present financial responsibilities, preparing for your financial future and treating yourself along the way. Please do NOT skip out on your bills. Truthfully, there is no greater gift than financial freedom.