Are you tired of constantly overspending and not even knowing where the money went?
It’s frustrating and stressful to feel disconnected from your spending and have no idea how to change it.
There is a
That solution? A no-spend challenge.
A no-spend challenge can help you save money fast and reset your spending habits so you can stress less and save more in the future.
This blog post is your complete No-Spend Challenge guide to get started saving money today.
What is a no spend challenge?
A no-spend challenge is a pledge to not spend any money on certain non-essential purchases, like eating out, clothes, and entertainment, for a specific period of time.
The goal is to save extra cash by stretching your current funds as far as they’ll go.
It’s a great way to save money quickly to help you pay off debt and student loans, reach your savings goals, and build your emergency savings.
Why take on a no-spend challenge?
Most people take on a spending challenge to try to save money, but a no-spend challenge can offer a lot of great benefits like helping you reset bad spending habits and become more in tune with your budget.
Whether you’re looking to fund a short-term goal or reset your mindset around spending, a no-spend challenge is a great place to start.
1 – No Spend Challenges Help You Save Money Fast
Most of us have made impulse purchases that didn’t fit into our budgets or that we ended up regretting later on.
You’ve probably also caught yourself in some mindless spending, then asking yourself later where it all went.
Seemingly small or infrequent purchases like drinks with friends or eating out, buying new clothes, or grabbing the latest bestseller on Amazon can add up quickly, especially if you’re not paying close attention.
A no-spend challenge will help you save that extra money to put toward your financial goal.
Whether you plan to do a month-long challenge or start with a no-spend weekend, this money saving challenge is perfect for people who struggle with overspending and are looking for an easy way to save money fast.
2 – You’ll be able to see exactly what you’re spending each month.
A no-spend challenge isn’t just a great way to save money; it can also help you build a more positive relationship with your money.
By tracking every purchase you make throughout the entire month, you’ll get an accurate picture of what you’re spending your money on.
During the course of your challenge, you’ll notice the temptation to buy and gain insight into whether those temptations are in alignment with your money goals.
3 – Identify and break any bad spending habits
The key to breaking a bad habit is acknowledging it to begin with.
A no-spend challenge will help you become aware of any tendencies you have to make impulsive decisions when shopping.
As you become aware of your impulses you can try to understand what’s causing them.
For example, maybe you eat out at restaurants or grab fast food a lot because you don’t feel like cooking. Or perhaps you pay more for online shopping because it’s convenient.
A no-spend challenge will force you to get creative and figure out ways to do without some of these typical purchases for a period of time.
So if eating out is a problem area in your budget, starting to meal plan would be a creative solution to help you save money.
4 – It will give you an opportunity to reevaluate your finances and set new financial goals for yourself.
When you commit to cutting back on unnecessary spending, you’ll find it easier if you keep your goal in mind.
A no-spend challenge leads to every purchase taking on new meaning.
You’ll start to focus your spending around your bigger goals and learn how to prioritize and make more deliberate spending decisions.
5 – You’ll feel better knowing that you’re saving money while still enjoying life.
It’s easy to confuse needs and wants.
Our minds are masters of convincing us the things we want are absolutely necessary.
But the beauty of a no-buy challenge is that you’re circumventing the decision entirely.
Committing to not spending on certain things doesn’t mean you’ll sit around feeling deprived and sorry for yourself.
Instead, you’ll find you start figuring out new and creative ways to have fun without spending money.
6 – You’ll know exactly where you stand financially.
A no-spend challenge is fantastic for resetting your spending habits, but it’s also great for getting clear on your overall financial picture.
Once you start paying attention to every purchase and impulse to buy, you’ll see where they all fit in (or don’t) with your larger financial goals.
A no-spend challenge brings a new awareness to your finances that can transform the way you budget and think about your money.
How to do a no spend challenge
There are no hard and fast challenge rules for how to take on a no-spend challenge.
Typically you’ll set up your own rules based on your own goals.
For example, if compulsive or impulsive spending is a problem, you may want to rule out everything but the necessities.
For a less strict challenge, you could try to eliminate just a few problem areas of your spending, like dining out and entertainment spending. Or you could attempt a shorter challenge, like a week instead of a month.
Here are some
- How long will your challenge be?
- What types of things are acceptable expenses?
- What’s absolutely, positively NOT something you’re allowed to spend money on?
How long should a no-spend challenge be?
The length of a no-spend challenge depends on your goals and your level of commitment.
The longer the challenge, the more difficult it will be to stay motivated and stick with it.
However, the longer you persist in a no-spend challenge, the more likely you are to get comfortable living with fewer expenses.
Mentally, I find it more effective to shape my challenges so that they’re actually challenging, but not impossibly difficult.
That usually takes the shape of a monthly challenge for me, but for you, it may be weekly or even day-by-day.
I’d be cautious trying to take on anything longer than a month.
Feeling comfortable with the challenge will make it easier to stick to it.
If you can set yourself up for success you’re not only reaping the immediate benefits of more money and a sense of accomplishment, but you’re also more likely to extend out or repeat the challenge to save even more.
What type of expenses are allowed?
Typically, your necessities and any bills that would be difficult to cancel temporarily are ok to spend on, especially if you’re trying not to drastically alter your lifestyle.
Some commonly accepted expenses include spending money on gas, going grocery shopping, and buying certain household essentials like toilet paper.
That said, a no-spend challenge is a great opportunity to reassess your regular expenses in addition to your spending habits.
Look at where you can eliminate or reduce some costs without sacrificing your lifestyle.
For example: if you eat out often, start to cook at home and avoid restaurants altogether. Try meal planning and batch cooking to help save time, money, reduce waste, and improve your diet.
What expenses aren’t allowed?
If your challenge is about bringing down your spending to a livable level, you may want to eliminate all unnecessary purchases.
But if you’re looking to target trouble spots in your budget you may want to just eliminate those specific categories.
It’s important that you set up your own rules based on what is applicable to your goals and situation.
Don’t be tempted into super strict limitations that end up being so restrictive or inconvenient you can’t stick with them.
For example, Netflix may not be an essential expense, but that doesn’t mean you have to give it up for a no-spend challenge. Especially if the idea of making homemade pizza and binge-watching Bridgerton keeps you from spending money on dinner and a movie out.
Steps to create your own no-spend challenge
Make sure your no-spend challenge is a success by following these
Step 1: Know your why
Knowing why you want to save money and why you’re making this commitment should keep you motivated for the long haul.
Are you saving for debt payoff? Trying to stop making frivolous purchases? Maybe you’re just looking to improve your cash flow or build up your emergency fund.
It’s important that you know why you’re taking on the challenge so that your mind is set on success instead of focusing on the restrictions.
Step 2: Set a goal
Setting a goal is not only important, but it can help you keep track of your progress.
It’s easier to measure your success if you’re tracking something specific.
For example, spending $200 less in food for the month, or shaving $100 off your entertainment expenses.
Look over your prior spending to get an idea of how much you can realistically save.
I tend to look at my grocery purchases first. We always seem to go over our grocery budget so digging a little deeper can help me spot issues I need to address.
It’s not that you want to eliminate grocery expenses during a no-spend challenge, but if you’re trying to be more deliberate with your spending overall, you should approach your grocery spending with the same mindset.
This is especially the case if you find yourself excusing previously determined unnecessary expenses simply because you’re buying them at the grocery store. Things like toys, books, and household items may be potential pitfalls here.
Step 3: Determine your rules
Your challenge will be more fun and effective if you have your own unique rules.
Don’t worry about trying to follow someone else’s set of guidelines, since they may not fit into your life or align with your goals.
You may be tempted to emulate someone else’s challenge because of the results they got, but remember their starting point was likely much different than yours.
You have a unique financial situation so your challenge should reflect that.
Whether you decide to stick to only basic necessities for a no-spend month or impose a spending freeze only on one area of your budget for a series of no-spend days, the only way this challenge will work for you is if you are truly committed.
Setting rules that you can’t sustain will only undermine your efforts.
Step 4: Make a plan
Once you decide how long your challenge will last and what types of expenses are acceptable (or not), make sure you write them out so you can track your progress.
You can download my free no-spend challenge printable below.
You’ll also want to take note of any potential pitfalls that may come up.
Things like holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions can be accounted for in advance by giving yourself a cheat day for those events.
How do you get through a no-spending month?
In theory, this money-saving challenge is pretty
Whenever you restrict yourself it’s easy to get frustrated and give up.
Suddenly adjusting your behavior is hard, especially if you’ve got some established spending habits.
Controlling your spending so you can live on less money is a great way to get ahead but it can be a tough prospect.
To help make your no-spend challenge a success, here are some
Tip #1: Track your progress
Tracking your progress is a great way to stay motivated and encourage yourself.
Write down everything you’ve saved by not spending and continue to set new goals as you reach your prior ones.
Tip #2: Avoid temptation
There are spending triggers literally everywhere nowadays.
It’s pretty easy to avoid in-person temptation: stay home, don’t shop hungry, don’t go shopping if you’re emotional.
If you struggle with online shopping you can avoid temptation by unsubscribing from store emails, installing extensions or apps that block your favorite shopping sites, and/or clearing your saved passwords from the sites you shop at.
Tip #3: Be creative
When an expense comes up that’s not allowed, get creative to see how else you can achieve a comparable result.
For example, say your co-workers enjoy going out to lunch. Instead of being the odd-man-out, you could plan to eat beforehand so you can enjoy their company without spending money on food.
Or if you’re trying to save money on groceries you could start meal planning or try a pantry challenge to reduce your overall grocery bill.
Tip #4: Do it together/make it public
If you’ve got shared finances with a spouse, it can help to team up and work together to meet your savings goal.
Similarly, recruit family members and friends to participate in a no spend challenge with you. You’ll have a built-in support and accountability network.
Tip #5: Make spending more difficult
Have a habit of impulse spending?
Leave your credit cards and debit cards at home and make sure you only carry enough cash for whatever you intend to buy.
Also, make sure you remove any stored credit card info from your computer and phone to make it more difficult to buy online.
Tip #6: Distract yourself
Give yourself something productive to do during your no-spend time so you’re not tempted to spend simply to alleviate boredom.
Now’s the time to dive into those projects and chores you’ve been avoiding (assuming they don’t require you to buy supplies).
If you feel like you are running out of things to do during this challenge, tweak some old activities or try some free activities, like visiting the library or taking a hike.
Tip #7: Make a wishlist
You’re bound to feel the impulse to buy something while doing your no-spend challenge.
Instead of making the purchase, add the item to a wishlist.
When your challenge is over you can revisit the list to see if you still want whatever is on it.
Tip #8: Give yourself grace/cheat days
No-spend challenges are just that, challenging.
The longer your time frame the more likely you are to slip up.
Give yourself permission either by factoring in cheat days from the start or by giving yourself a hall pass to spend money on one thing if you slip up.
Tip #9: Plan to reward yourself
Plan to give yourself a reward of some sort at the end of the challenge.
After you’ve pulled off a successful no-spend challenge, enjoy a guilt-free treat of some kind.
Whether it’s a meal out after a month of eating at home or picking something off your wishlist, acknowledge your success in a small way that doesn’t undo the progress you’ve made.
No Spend Challenge Frequently Asked Questions
How much money can you save with a no-spend challenge?
This will vary based on what kind of spending you want to eliminate from your life.
Sometimes people only want to limit their impulse buying while other times people may go all out by paring down as many expenses as possible.
The amount you save will depend on the amount you typically spend and how much you’re willing to give up during the challenge.
How long should a no spend challenge be?
The duration of your no-spend challenge is completely dependent on your own situation and goals.
Most people start with a no spend month, but if you have a daily habit of spending impulsively, a shorter time frame may be a good starting point.
If you’re looking to save up a larger amount of money and you have the discipline to stick to a longer time period, that may be the better option.
Can a no-spend challenge really help me save money?
A no-spend challenge helps you get control of your finances because it forces you to think about where your money goes each day.
It also gives you an opportunity to evaluate whether certain purchases align with your values and priorities.
What happens when my no-spend challenge ends?
Once your challenge is complete, you’ll need to decide how you plan to handle your money going forward. Some people choose to continue saving for future needs while others use the extra cash to pay back debt or invest it into savings accounts.
How do I track my savings?
There are a few ways to track your savings. You could compare your previous spending amount with your no-spend time frame and note the difference.
For example, if you spent $200 on eating out last month and only $50 during your challenge, you’ve saved $150.
You could also make a note of purchases you would have made and transfer that same amount into a separate savings fund.
In summary, there’s nothing wrong with having fun with your money as long as it’s deliberate and in alignment with your values.
A no-spend challenge isn’t meant to replace financial planning; rather, it’s simply another tool in your arsenal to manage your money effectively.
Remember, every dollar counts, so take advantage of this
Are you ready to get started saving today? Let’s do this together!