Okay first things first, what the heck is a no spend challenge?!
Well it’s all in the name! A no spend challenge is where you don’t spend any extra money for a specific amount of time.
Why would you want to do this?
A no spend is a great way to get your financial life under control. It can also be a great tool to help you understand where your money is really going and it can also help you see how much money you truly need.
How to Do a No Spend Challenge
To do the traditional no spend challenge, here’s how it works: for one month you will be only spending on necessities.
This mean you can spend on things like:
- Rent, Mortgage, Utilities (basic housing expenses).
- Phone and Internet
- Basic Groceries (no eating out!)
And you won’t be spending on:
- Eating out
- Extra shopping
- Haircuts, nails
- Hobby items
There’s really no right or wrong way to complete a no spend challenge, but here are some steps that you can follow to put together your own challenge:
Figure Out Why You Want to Do a No Spend Challenge
A no spend challenge can start to get pretty tough towards the end, so you need to have a good reason for doing it.
Do you want to save more money? Get your budget under control? Are you trying to see how you normally spend money?
Having a good reason for doing the challenge will help keep you motivated when things get tough.
Choose the Length of the Challenge
The traditional no spend challenge is usually one month long. But you can do a no spend challenge for any length of time you want.
I’ve seen no spend days, no spend weekends, and no spend YEARS.
Identify Any Obstacles and Plan For Events and Activities
While you’re planning out your no spend challenge, don’t forget to plan around any events and activities that you’ve already committed to / are important!
I mean sure, if you’re just doing a weekend no spend challenge then maybe you can just sit at home, but if you’re doing a month-long no spend challenge? Something is bound to be happening in your life.
For example if you already have concert tickets, think about what other money you need to spend there. Parking? Drinks?
Just make sure you’re taking note of all these things so you aren’t surprised when they come up.
Pick Your Exceptions
Some people make exceptions for certain things while doing a no spend challenge. For example, Erin from Broke Millennial made exceptions for a vacation she already had planned and also gave herself a $25 weekly stipend for networking-related expenses.
Will you earn more money?
There are some people that give themselves a little loophole where if they make any extra money, then this money is safe to spend during their no spend challenge.
No Spend Challenge Tips
If you want to make doing a no spend challenge easier on yourself, here are my best tips:
Before you actually start a no spend challenge, you should probably do some preparation.
The first thing you need to do is tell your family (and possibly friends).
By telling your family and friends that you’re trying to do a no spend challenge, they will know what to expect and most likely they will help you when you’re on your no spend challenge by keeping you out of certain situations where you might want to spend money.
The next thing you should do is figure out your food situation.
You should check out what food you have at home, and try to plan out your meals for the length of the challenge.
If you’re doing a pantry challenge, try to use up what food you already have, if you’re just doing a regular no spend challenge, then you can still go grocery shopping, but try to plan out your list carefully so you don’t overspend or spend on extras like snacks.
The last thing you should do to prepare for a no spend challenge is get your mind right.
You need to make sure that you’re mentally prepared to do this challenge. Yes, this challenge will be tough, but you should look at this challenge at a chance for growth – not a form of torture or deprivation.
I promise this will be worth it!
Grab an Accountability Partner
If you’re able to connect with someone that is also doing a no spend challenge, you can keep each other accountable and motivated.
You can also share tips about what is working for you.
If you want to find a community of people who are doing no spend challenges, check out the #nospend and #nospendchallenge hashtags on Instagram.
Use a Visual Tracker
Using some sort of visual tracker can really help you stay on track. You can use a habit tracker app to help keep track of each day you don’t spend, or you could use a paper tracker to keep track of all of your no spend days.
I’ve created a No Spend Month Tracker that you can print and use during a no spend month. It also includes space to write down your exceptions, how much you saved, and how many no spend days you were able to complete.
You can see a preview of the tracker below, and you can print out your own here.
Find Some Free Activities
Just because you’re doing a no spend challenge, that doesn’t mean you just need to sit at home doing absolutely nothing.
Have a list of activities ready to go so you have some things to do during the challenge.
Need some inspiration? Here are some ideas for free activities:
- Have a nearby beach? Do a beach day!
- Museums – Some museums have free days
- Go to the park
- Try a nice afternoon bike ride
- Plan an at-home spa day
- Put together a movie night (with some panty snacks)
- Backyard picnic
- Go old-school and do a game night!
Use Up Those Gift Cards
If you have some gift cards leftover be sure to use those during your no spend challenge!
They will help keep you stick to your challenge and they can be a good way to add in a little break.
Unsubscribe From Emails
You know those emails that keep popping into your inbox each week about new items in stock or new sales?
Yeah get rid of those!
Just avoid the temptation and just unsubscribe from all emails that come from stores.
No Spend Challenge Variations to Try
Here are some no spend challenge variations that you could try out yourself (if you don’t want to commit to not spending on any extras):
- No Spending On Eating Out
- No Spending On Snacks
- No Spending On Drinks (alcohol, soda, basically anything other than water)
- No Spending On Clothing
- No Spending On Makeup and Skincare Products
- No Spending On Books and Magazines
- No Amazon Orders
- Pantry Challenge – This is where you try to use up all the food you have stored in your pantry and freezer.
- No Spending On Video Games (goodbye WoW subscription!)
- No Spending On Subscriptions (see ya Netflix and tier 3 sub to Pokimane)
What Should You Do With The Extra Money?
The final question is what should you do with the money that you’ve saved up?
It’s really up to you!
But you should try to be intentional with the money instead of just letting it sit.
You can put the money towards any debt you have, use it for an emergency fund, save it for some other goal, or you can use it on something fun.
You should know what you’re going to do with your money. Don’t let it decide for you.
Good luck with the no spend challenge!
FAQs About No Spend Challenges
What is a no spend day?
A no spend day is where you try not to spend any money on things beyond your necessities.
What is a no buy month?
A no buy month is where you attempt not to spend any money on anything (other than necessities). Some people restrict no buy to certain categories, for example, they will try to not spend any money on clothes for one month.