Have you ever taken a no spend challenge?
If not, have you ever thought about taking a no spend challenge? Maybe a no spend month? Or a no spend weekend? Heck, even a no spend day!
I usually do at least one no spend month ever year, often in January.
You would not believe how much I save after a month of no spending and being super intentional with my money.
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Save Money with a No Spend Challenge
I’m a frugal person, and I try to be intentional with my money. After vacation, a heavy spending month, or when inspired, I like to take on a no spend challenge.
The first time I did a no spend challenge, I was blown away by the amount of money I saved. It was almost $1600! That’s almost embarrassing I had that much disposable income I could be saving and in only 30 days!
Decide on the length of your no spend challenge
I recommend a no spend challenge for one month or 30 days.
It takes about a month to establish new habits, and if you get in the habit of not spending money, it may stick with you for the rest of the year.
If one month is too long, then maybe try a no spend weekend or a no spend day.
If you are super inspired, try a no spend year. I’ve never been brave enough to do a complete no spend year. I did do a no spend year for clothes once, and that opened my eyes up to all the ways I could save by practicing a more minimalist lifestyle!
How to prepare for a no spend challenge month
Don’t stock up on basic supplies
This rule varies depending on who is running the challenge.
I get the mentality of stocking up. Buy now, and you won’t have to go to the stores and be tempted. However, stocking up just gives you a false pretense of saving money. You spent it all last month!
Do you know what happens when I don’t stock up? I find stuff.
For example, when you run out of shampoo, you FINALLY use those travel bottles you’ve been holding on to for “just in case”.
The same goes for toilet paper. Once you’ve searched in every storage corner, the back of the car, and the garage, then yes, you can go buy more toilet paper. You might use less toilet paper though, especially if you know you are running low. You may even buy a cheaper brand (and learn you don’t mind it) if you finally have to buy.
Part of this challenge is learning how to resist the temptations of consumerism when reality requires you to go out to a store for bare essentials.
Track your average expenses for 3 months prior
If you use a program like YNAB or other budget tracking software, then look at your expenses for the past three months.
If three months is too much, track at least the prior month’s expenses.
Bonus if you can zero on on your highest two or three categories for your spending in the past one to three months.
Save this number and compare your results after the challenge.
Even if you slip up during the no spend month challenge, chances are you will save a big chunk of money.
No Spending Month Rules
You gotta take care of the bills. Everything else, those non-essentials, they can wait.
- Rent / Mortgage
- Debt Payments
- Medical Expenses
- Gas (if needed)
- Daycare Expenses
- Obligatory Expenses
- Essential Groceries
- Toilet Paper (we all have to draw the line somewhere!)
- Non-essential Groceries (do a grocery/pantry challenge)
- Dining Out
- Coffee Shops
- Personal Items (until all stored/stocked items are exhausted)
- Clothes (I promise, you don’t NEED anything in a month’s time.)
- Entertainment of any kind (Search locally for free stuff to do.)
- Vacation (If you have a vacation already planned, don’t ruin it!)
- Date Nights
- Gifts (Homemade with on-hand items or re-gifting allowed.)
- Alcohol (You can survive a month.)
- Hobby Supplies
- Car Wash
- Home Goods
- Any “deal”
- Basically, anything that is non-essential and can be bought at a later time, no matter the price.
No Spend Month Tips
Stay out of the stores
I know I told you to not stock up, which will require some basic essentials shopping during your no spend challenge month.
Yet, for the most part, you should stay out of the stores.
This means no shopping for fun or to waste time. If you are struggling, here is a list of activities you can do for free! If you have kids, Macaroni Kids is a great resource to learn and have as much fun as possible.
If you must go to a store:
- Have a list
- Get only what’s on the list, no exceptions, no matter the deal.
- Avoid the clothes, home goods and toys sections like the plague. You don’t NEED anything from these areas. Anything in these areas can be avoided for one month, I promise.
In addition to removing the store as a temptation, you can remove other temptations for your no spend month challenge.
Use what you already own and get creative
If you need something, stop and evaluate for a minute.
- Do you have an item that would work just as well?
- Could you borrow the item?
- Are you sure buying the item would not create a duplicate?
Pack your lunch
If you work, tell your lunch buddies you will not be dining out for a month. Ask them not to ask you and to maybe save some cash by packing with you every day.
Clear our your retailer emails
Either unsubscribe or put “rules” on them. Most email providers with automatically file emails from specific senders if you put in a new “rule”.
Host a potluck
Host a potluck so you can get in your friends time without being tempted to go to happy hour, the movies or other events with friends.
We used to do potlucks all the time when we were trying to save a very large sum of money. We would often cook a pork shoulder all day in the crockpot and then invite friends over for BBQ or tacos.
Assign all your guests an item to reduce duplicates and so everyone shares the cost!
You can do this for work lunches too if you have a big enough group of people who eat together every day.
Eat at home
If you are not doing a pantry challenge and are allowing yourself any groceries, then make food that keeps you from wanting to go out.
If you don’t want to do dishes, do a quick and easy meal.
If you want fried food, then fry up something yummy.
If you want dessert, make it.
The trick is to not go out to eat. Try a new recipe. If you are new to meal planning, I highly recommend you check out eMeals. Hands down they are my favorite meal planning tool, and I’ve been using them for over 10 years! It is worth every penny, which is only about $1.25/week.
Related post: Review of Emeals: Meal Planning Service for Busy People
Cut out luxury expenses
Cut out any expenses that could be luxury in nature for your no spend challenge month.
This can be car washes, nail salon visits, tanning visits, subscription services, etc. You may be surprised by what you pay for and don’t even use anymore!
Cut out alcohol
Think this is impossible? Need inspiration? Check out This Naked Mind.
Alcohol can slow down your mind, allows you to make choices you may regret (online shopping binges anyone?!), and costs money. Really, it is an unnecessary luxury.
Cut out coffee shops
You can make your own fancy coffees at home. If you can’t recreate the same flavors, get as close as you can.
Accept that you will have some fails in flavors. Or…go plain-ole coffee or tea. It’s cheap. It will save you many future bucks when you learn to prefer less fancy flavors.
Don’t buy clothes
Unless your house burned down, you can survive a month without buying new clothes. Heck, I once survived a year without buying new clothes! It can be done. I promise.
Tell people “no”
If you are trying to save money, you are going to have to decline some invites to happy hours, dinners out, movies, etc. Learn to tell people “no”.
Some people may give you a hard time, but let them know you are doing a simple challenge and will be back to things next month.
Get creative too. See if they would like to get together for dinner at each other’s house. Maybe you could get the kids together to watch a movie or to play outside while you share a coffee.
You don’t have to spend money to connect with people.
What happens if you goof and mess up?
Don’t give up! Pick up right where you left off.
Part of building a new habit means you won’t be perfect right out of the gate. That is OK!
No Spend Challenge Printable Pack – FREE!
Download your FREE No Spend Challenge Printable Pack. Included is everything you need to track your success. You can download a calendar view or habit tracker view, pick your preference.
You in? What excites you most about a no spend challenge month?