9 Customizable Ways to do a No Spend Challenge to Kick Start Your Financial Goals

Jen SmithFrugality, Personal Finance6 Comments

Ways to do a No Spend Challenge

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Completing a No Spend Challenge can do more for your finances than keep a few dollars in your bank account. Which of these 9 ways to do a No Spend Challenge is right for your financial goals?

We’re on the cusp of paying off $78,000 of debt in less than two years. I’ve incorporated No Spend Months a few times over the course of our journey, usually after a big budget flop.

I’m really bad at moderation. I’m very all-or-nothing, which has made it easier to commit to paying off our student loans but also makes me a horrible budgeter.

I have a hard time playing by the rules, even if I’m the one making them. I’m either completely methodical or completely impulsive. So when I make a budget I either feel guilty spending anything because I don’t know what I’ll want or need later in the month or I ignore it.

Our budget is never perfect and there are always changes. That’s why I use No Spend Challenges; they help me compensate for budget flubs instead of feeling sorry for myself after a setback.

I know it sounds difficult, I won’t say it’s not, but it is doable. I didn’t start out doing full No Spend Months and I’m not even the best at executing them. But I’ve done enough to see the value in them, whether you’re full force or starting small.

So here are some ways to do a No Spend Challenge I’ve done and the lengths I’ve tried them from the beginning to now.

No spending on Particular Items

Start by cutting out coffee, restaurants, anything at the mall, etc. Look at your purchases from this year, what are you seeing a lot of that makes you feel a little embarrassed?

That’s a great way to start. You’ll easily be able to work up to doing this one for months at a time.

No Spending on Impulse

This one is broader than the last but still, allows for a few luxuries that are planned for in advance.

You’re basically giving yourself a $0 personal budget. Before the month begins, plan the times you need to work from a coffee shop or if you need a certain clothing item. Then you can buy only those items and nothing else.

Spend Only on Groceries and Gas

This is the most common way I do a No Spend Month. It’s no impulse spending but with no luxuries planned. This is an effective way to make an impact on your savings.

I take it a step further by trying to clear up my pantry stockpile and spend as little on groceries as possible. It’s surprising all the extra time you’ll have to plan meals when you’re not out spending money.

Purely No Spending

This is great for a day or two at a time, even a week if you plan accordingly. I wouldn’t recommend this method for longer than that. If you’re really into challenges then have at it, and let me know when you do it. I’d love to interview you.

No Spend Days

These are a great way to wet your feet. They’re not as easy as they sound. You still need to plan ahead because it’s a bummer when you have a fail during No Spend Month but it’s downright deflating to fail a no spend day.

No Spend Week

Doing five or seven days of no spending is where it starts to get difficult but it can be exhilarating. You can always “accidentally” not spend on a random day but you are guaranteed to have to make a hard decision when doing this for a week.

I recommend Monday to Friday or Sunday, using the Sunday before for grocery shopping, filling up your tank, and meal prepping your food for the week. Make it as easy as possible for yourself to not touch your wallet.

No Spend Weekend

Depending on your schedule, not spending on weekdays could be easy, it was super easy for us when we were both working 3 jobs and just eating snacks for dinner.

The weekend is meant for rest and to reward you for making it through another week. And it’s hard not to spend money with all that free time. If someone asks you to go out don’t be ashamed to suggest a free event or activity. 81% of millennials are in debt so we could all use a little money saved.

No Spend Month

I highly recommend working up to a No Spend Month. It’s probably the most difficult of the challenges because you’re always “so close yet so far” away from the things you want.

Another reason a month is my favorite length is the old adage that it takes 21 days to build a habit. I’m very stubborn and I think I need the extra 9-10 days to fully cement it. Whatever you’re giving up, a month is a good amount of time to train yourself how to cut back.

No Spend Year

People blog and write books about not spending for an entire year, sometimes more! I didn’t feel the need to do a whole year but for those who have they truly have a spiritual awakening.

Here are some great books from people who stopped spending on certain things for a whole year:

The No Spend Year by Michelle McGagh
The Year Without a Purchase by Scott Dannemiller
The Year of Less by Cait Flanders
The Spender’s Guide to Debt Free Living by Anna Newell Jones

You don’t have to give up every small pleasure to get out of debt. But fasting from spending can help you get there faster and teach you to see the value or the impulsiveness in the things you buy.

Have you ever tried any of these ways to do a No Spend Challenge? How did it go for you?

I thought a no spend challenge had to be "all or nothing" I was so wrong! I could totally do this to save money and pay off debt.

6 Comments on “9 Customizable Ways to do a No Spend Challenge to Kick Start Your Financial Goals”

  1. I love how you can customize a no spend challenge. I always look at it as an all or nothing, so I’ve never even tried. No spend days, weekends, or weeks sounds like something that I could definitely incorporate into my life on a regular basis.

    1. It’s all about improving yourself and your spending habits. It takes time and practice to do that, not an all or nothing system!

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