It’s the time of year where people set new goals, think about improving their life and reflect on mistakes and wins over the past year. With this in mind, if you’re conscious about your financial life, you might be thinking about trying a no spend challenge.
If you’re wondering how to master a no spend challenge to save tons of money and throw your financial burdens out the window, then stick around. I’ve got some amazing no spend challenge tips and tricks for you!
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What exactly is a No Spend Challenge?
A no spend challenge refers to a predetermined period of time where a person decides to spend money on nothing but necessities. This means that spending on groceries and bills are OK but spending on new clothes, going to the movies etc. are not!
The length of time is totally up to you and should be based on your own personal goals. For example, you may choose to do a no spend week or no spend weekend… Or maybe a no spend month may suit your fancy.
Not sure about these? Then try having a few no spend days each week instead. And if you’re REALLY, TRULY READY to fully commit and dive head on into this saving money/frugal living/paying off debt/financial freedom life, you MUST give a no spend year a try!
No Spend Challenge Do’s and Don’ts (No Spend Challenge Rules)
So what exactly can you do and not do during a no spend challenge?
During a no spend challenge, you’re supposed to spend as little as possible, mmkay? That’s the whole point of this thing. It’s okay to spend on whatever you need to survive. This includes
- Loan Payments
- Gas for Car/Travelling Fares
You’re not supposed to spend money on anything else. Everything else is off limits. Period.
The idea is to challenge yourself to save as much money as you can. That means no new clothes, shoes, stationery, hair and nail appointments, eating out and anything else that is unnecessary.
Although these are the general rules for a no spend challenge, they’re obviously not set in stone and you can choose to modify the challenge to suit your needs.
Personally, I tend to be a bit hard on myself and I choose to follow a strict no spend challenge. Whenever I take on a no spend challenge, I meal plan (budget meals only) each week, make a grocery shopping list based on my meal plan, choose ONE day to do my grocery shopping and stick to this religiously. What can I say… I’m a serious goal-getter!
As a result, I end up savings hundreds of dollars every time I do a no spend challenge (and I choose to do no spend months pretty often)!
To make it a little bit more fun, I sometimes get my husband on board. We print two no spend month trackers (one for him and one for me) and compete to see who has racked up the highest number of no spend days! It’s a great way to get a non-frugal partner on board! You’re welcome. 😉
Does a No Spend Challenge work?
Now the big question is “Can you really benefit from a no spend challenge?”
The answer can be both yes and no.
Lemme start with the no. Think about going on a diet and starting the gym. If you do it on weekends only (or one month per year) will that really help you in any way? Righhtt.
Likewise, a no spend challenge can really help you achieve your goals (save more money) and develop healthier money habits. But it’s obviously not going to work if you’re out there spending $1500 each week on makeup and clothes and then freezing your spending on a weekend with a no spend challenge. Who you really fooling, sis?
So if you want a no spend challenge to work for you, you gotta be prepared to commit and be consistent. Slow and steady.
Why do a No Spend Challenge?
No spend challenges can be life changing once done right. It can help ease financial burdens in the long run by getting you to make the sacrifice upfront. Short term pain for long term gain… you know?
According to an article on GoBankingRates, the average credit card debt of a person in the US is $6 814 and at the end of 2019, Americans collectively held almost $900 billion in credit card debt! Add an average of $20K – $25K in student loan debt and you can see why many Americans feel like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.
If you are frustrated, and just don’t know where to start, maybe consider giving a no spend challenge a try!
So do you have debt hanging over your head? Do you live paycheck to paycheck? Do you want to save an emergency fund (or increase any other savings account)? Do you want to develop healthier financial habits? Do you want to travel the world? Do you want to get a downpayment for a house?
If you answered yes to at least one of these questions, you need a no spend challenge in your life!
11 No Spend Challenge Tips to Spend Less & Save More Money
1. Decide on a No Spend Challenge which suits your goals
The first no spend challenge tip on the list is to decide on a no spend challenge that will suit your needs. Want to save a gazillion dollars? You might need a No Spend Year (or maybe a tad bit more time than this LOL).
Trying to save an extra hundred each month? You may just need a few no spend days instead. These are the days that you should take your own lunch to work and say no to friends who want you hop along for a night out on the town.
On these days, just remember to dust off your coffee maker and skip the Starbucks line. You’ll be surprised by how much these little things add up to in the end!
The most popular no spend challenge is actually a no spend month – a happy medium when you’re trying to save a fair amount of money. Most people at least try to do a No Spend January since it comes right around the time where new year resolutions are made and financial goals are set.
To decide which no spend challenge might be best for you, sit with a pen and notepad and write out your goals. Set a deadline to achieve these goals and determine what pace you want to move at.
You also need to consider your personality. A no spend challenge is kinda like a diet. If you’re too hard on yourself, you may end up quitting altogether. At the same time, it is called a CHALLENGE… which means it should not be like super easy to do. You know?
Choose a no spend challenge that is reasonable and manageable – something you can stick to. Find a happy middleground.
2. Write out your Necessary Expenses
Since a no spend challenge allows you to spend only on things that are necessary, you should make a note of these expenses and allocate this money upfront. Remember that this list includes rent/mortgage, groceries, bills etc.
3. Make a Budget (and stick to it!)
This is an absolute must if you’re trying to manage your money better and save more! You should always know exactly how your money is being spent!
Ever reached the end of the month and wondered where all your money went?! I’ve been there in the past (and I never want to go back!)
Use your list of expenses from the step above and determine your budget categories. If you’ve never made a budget before, feel free to check out this complete guide on How to Create a Budget for Beginners in 7 Simple Steps.
4. Get a tracker to keep track of your No Spend Days
Tracking your no spend days may be one of the easiest but most effective ways to stick to and master your no spend challenge. There’s just something about highlighting a box at the end of the day (or adding a sticker – hey, no judgement here!) when you’ve sacrificed and stuck to your no spend challenge.
You know how reward charts work for kids? Well yup… this is like the same exact thing.
Obviously days where you spend on bills or grocery shopping (sticking to your list of course) don’t count as spending extra. So even on these days, I would go ahead and highlight away!
Need a printable tracker? Grab my FREE Printable No Spend Month Tracker!
5. Meal Plan (Include Budget Meals Only)
Earlier I mentioned meal planning. I can’t even begin to explain how much money meal planning saves me every month! I usually do this every week but sometimes leave a little wiggle room for a takeout day if it’s a busy week. But grabbing takeout during a no spend challenge is usually a huge no no!
Takeout counts as extra since it can be very pricey and sabotage your entire no spend challenge by reducing your savings.
So during a no spend challenge, what do we do? We cook!
Now, I’m a busy mom (of two littles) plus I work a regular job (high school teacher). I know how hard it is to cook on an evening when you get home from work and you’re tired AF.
To stick to my meal plans, I usually plan the upcoming week on a Saturday morning (or the Friday night before) and make my shopping list. I get all the ingredients I need and prep during the weekend.
I chop all vegetables, prepare marinades, prep meats, chop seasonings and fix everything else in between. When I get home on an evening, I just need to put it all together!
I also stick to easy meals that will not take ALL evening. I need to be able to cook in whatever little time remains after homework with the kids is done (and we all know how long this takes).
Lastly, I want to remind you that you need to stick to budget meals. What’s the point in doing all of this when you’re going to blow your budget on lobster and caviar dinners. Yea?
If you have no idea how to get started with budget meal planning, I highly recommend trying $5 Meal Plan! For just $5 per month, you will be sent a delicious meal plan every single week. These meals will cost only $2 per person. Sometimes you gotta spend a little to save a lot, right? But if you just want to test the waters for now, you can try $5 Meal Plan FREE here).
***If you really can’t help getting takeout (or going out to dinner), take this money out of your food/grocery budget and spend a little less during your next grocery trip. I know. Sometimes it cannot be avoided.
6. Choose One Grocery Shopping Day & Stick to your Shopping List
For this no spend challenge tip, I can’t stress enough how much having just ONE grocery shopping day (per week or even per month) can improve your no spend challenge game.
In the past, I came to the realization that every time I went grocery shopping, I’d be tempted to pick up whatever random shiny object that caught my attention.
And don’t get me started on the shelves on either side as you wait in line to cash. They strategically place every, unnecessary (but super cute) item there. The longer the wait in line, the more I need to argue with myself about whether I ‘need’ something from there or not. Is this just me or no?
Making one grocery shopping trip (instead of many) reduces temptation and decreases the odds of me picking up randoms that I’ve convinced myself that I need.
While I’m there, I make sure that I get whatever is on my list only – and not one item more!
Check out how I was able to cut my grocery bill by 50% each month!
***SPOILER ALERT*** One of the tools I use to help me save money on grocery shopping is Rakuten (formerly known as Ebates). I literally get money back every single month (but get paid every 3 months). And who doesn’t like extra cash? I just purchase the usual things on my shopping list via Rakuten and start earning immediately! Sometimes this means that I don’t even need to go to the grocery store! FRUGAL WIN!
7. Avoid Unnecessary Outings
Just like you minimize your grocery shopping trips, you should also consider avoiding unnecessary trips to the mall, shopping zones etc.
This is an especially important no spend challenge tip if you’re a recovering shopaholic or you easily give in to temptation.
8. Practice Self Control
And if you do need to make a trip to any of these places for whatever reason, practice loads and loads of self control, please. Walk with both eyes closed if you must.
Do whatever you need to do to ignore the perfect Little Black Dress hanging in the showcase, and for God’s sake stop picturing yourself wearing the new blouse that’s on display to work – no matter how much you know it will complement your eye color.
Once you can master this, half your work is done.
9. Get an Accountability Buddy
It’s no surprise that we do better with something when we’re accountable to someone for it. I mean this is the whole purpose of having bosses and supervisors, right?
Chances are you’ll stick to your no spend challenge if you have a friend or family member that you need to account to at the end of the day, week or month.
This person can also agree to be your voice of reason if you suddenly decide to make an irrational purchase. Agree to call your accountability buddy before unnecessary purchases so he can help you decide if it is a sensible or logical buy.
Your accountability buddy can also agree to listen if you’re struggling and need to vent, and can also celebrate your wins with you. Because let’s face it – this entire journey may be a roller coaster ride!
10. Find Activities that are Fun and Free
Who says a no spend challenge has to be boring? Most people have the perception that you just need to sit at home sulking because you have nothing else to do.
There are tons of activities that are free that can make a no spend challenge fun and exciting. Some of these may even make you forget that you’re on a no spend challenge to begin with. No Spend WHAT?
Check out these free activities that will help you rock your next no spend challenge!
11. Count your Savings
At the end of it all, a no spend challenge will help you save hundreds of dollars! So go ahead and keep counting those benjamins.
Be sure to put them away so that you can safely increase your savings as you work towards achieving all your financial dreams!
BONUS NO SPEND CHALLENGE TIP
Why not try to make even more money during your no spend challenge? Imagine how much more you can grow your savings?!
These resources can help you get started.
So there you go. A no spend challenge might be just what you needed to turn your finances around. So why not give it a try? I mean you have nothing to lose, right? Nothing to lose and HUNDREDS TO GAIN!
It really is the perfect way to start saving money when you don’t really know where to start. C’mon, the hardest step is to just start.
Good Luck. You’ve got this!
***Decided to try a no spend challenge? Want to connect with like-minded individuals to help you stay on track? Why not join our Private No Spend Challenge Group on Facebook? We help each other stay motivated, celebrate our wins (and vent when we have struggles), share new no spend challenge tips and offer support in whatever way we can! Just send a request and I’d happy to add you!
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Until next time,