Wouldn’t it be nice to pay off debt, become completely debt free or heck save six figures! Well, you can, and it all starts with a no spend challenge.
Having frequent no spend challenges has enabled us to do everything I just listed and so much more! If you’re looking to save extra money this week, month or even over the course of a year, this money challenge is a must.
So, do you think you have what it takes to say goodbye to bad spending habits and start actually saving money? If so, let’s get started!
What is a no spend challenge
The title pretty much speaks for itself! A no spend money challenge is a challenge where you don’t spend any money (besides essentials if needed) for a given period of time.
We’ve been living a frugal lifestyle for almost 7 years, saving money has always been the name of our game. You name it we’ve tried it.
Having a no spend challenge has always been the one thing we’ve been able to fall back on to either dig us out of debt or use as a tactic to save money.
No spend challenges not only work, if used correctly, they’re the key to saving substantial amounts of money!
Pick a time frame for your no spend challenge
The best part about participating in a no spend challenge is that they can be as long or as short as you want them to be.
I recommend starting off with a shorter challenge just to get your feet wet. Then you’ll know what you’re getting yourself into before participating in a much longer no spend challenge.
My personal favorite type of
What is a no spend weekend
A no spend weekend is where you commit to spending absolutely no money for an entire weekend. If you like short commitments or aren’t ready to commit to something long-term this is your place to start.
Committing to a no spend weekend usually saves us close to $200!
Crazy I know.
Think about it, when do you do most of your spending? During the weekend.
We use no spend weekends to save money for unexpected expenses that arise such as a last minute trip or car repairs.
Last weekend, we decided we’re going to go on a mini weekend getaway in 3 weeks. This wasn’t in our budget, so in order to make it work, we’re going to have two no spend weekends which will hopefully be enough for a two-night stay in an Airbnb.
If you’re like us and spend a lot of money on small things during the weekend, then a no spend weekend is for you!
Related article: 30 Free Things To Do During A No Spend Weekend
What is a no spend week
A no spend week is usually 5-7 days long (your personal preference) and is similar to a no spend
With a no spend week, some type of planning is usually involved. You will have to make sure you have enough food in your home for the week.
You’ll also have to cut all extracurricular activities from your schedule that aren’t free.
What is a no spend month
A lot of planning is required to have a successful no spend month.
You will have to survive off of limited funds just to get by.
You will only buy things that you absolutely need, not things you want. This can be tough for many of us but boy will it pay off.
What is a no spend year
This is the most difficult savings challenge and one that I wouldn’t recommend if you are just starting out.
During a no spend year, you will only be spending money on things you absolutely need.
Yes, you have to go a year without buying anything new!
If you can pull off a no spend year you will reap some amazing financial rewards!
We went all in and did an entire no spend year and were able to save $20,000. I even got a part-time job to increase our savings. In that year we were able to save enough for an entire down payment on a home.
During a no spend
No spending for a year tips:
> I get it, a year is a long time! My biggest piece of advice is to celebrate smaller accomplishments along the way. If you’re trying to save $10,000. Every time you save $1000
> Keep track of your spending with a visual tracker. Having a visual tracker that you can look daily will get you excited about saving.
> Turn saving money into a game with your spouse, family members or even yourself. During our no spend year, we were constantly trying to save more money on groceries then we did the previous month. Whether it’s finding cheap meatless dinner ideas or using the Ibotta app, make saving fun!
How To Prepare For A No Spend Challenge
Preparation for a
One key element that every no spend challenge has in common is not spending money.
In order to be victorious at not spending money, you must determine what “essentials” are actually essential. Remember, what I might consider an essential is different than what you think is essential.
What to cut during a no spend challenge
This is just a small list of things you will need to cut out of your spending during your challenge. Grab a piece of paper and continue this list.
> Fast Food/ restaurants
> Coffee huts
> New clothes
> Extra activities
Allowed spending during the spending freeze challenge
What can you spend money on during this challenge? This too can fluctuate depending on your needs.
> Gas for your vehicle
> Paying bills
> Contributing to your mutual funds/ IRA/ 401k
> Groceries (budgeted amount)
How to start a no spend challenge
Now that you know what you must cut from your spending it’s time to start the challenge. Follow these actionable steps and you’ll be on your way to completing your first spending freeze challenge.
1| Goal Setting
Before you start a money saving challenge, I always recommend figuring out your final goal or your “why.”
WHY are you about to attempt this extreme way of saving? At the end of the day, your goals are going to get you through this challenge.
What is your why?
- Save for vacation
- Pay off debt
- Build an emergency fund
- Become debt free
- Pay down your mortgage
More than likely you already have at least one goal in mind. I recommend writing it down and sticking it somewhere you can see every day.
When you’re having a rough day and you get the urge to buy something fancy you saw online or you feel like you aren’t saving money fast enough, having a visual reminder of your goal helps immensely.
2| Time frame for your no spend challenge
Once your goal is written down and you have your expectations set for the money challenge, you need to pick the time frame.
Each money saving challenge has its own pros and cons. I personally have tried and completed all of them, but my favorite is a no spend weekend.
No Spend Weekend-
Having a no spend weekend is the quickest way to free up some extra cash. If you have a costly event, unplanned bill or surprise vacation sneak up on you this is a great way to make some unexpected cash.
A no spend weekend usually doesn’t entail much planning. We spend our no spend weekends at home. Your mortgage is your biggest expense you might as well spend some time in that house you pay for each month.
No Spend Week-
A no spend week requires you to change up your everyday routine. No eating out at work, or stopping for a quick bite to eat on the way home after a long day.
Things start to get a little more challenging with a no spend week!
During a no spend
What I love about a no-spend month, is that it shows you what you really need in life. So many times we get caught up in thinking we have to go out for drinks or buy the latest video game.
Having a no spend month really shows you that you can not only survive, but really thrive, on less stuff! We are big fans of having less “stuff” and we know you will be too once you try it!
No Spend Year-
A year is a long time, but the payout for this type of commitment is huge! You will have to cut out spending of all types, besides the allowed essential listed above.
No spending for a year doesn’t have to be painful, unless you make it painful. There are plenty of ways to have fun that are FREE!!
3| Make sure everyone is onboard
Let’s face it, a money freeze isn’t going to work unless your whole family is on board. You and your significant other (if you have one) need to agree on making this no spend challenge work together.
If one of you wants to save money and the other wants to eat out every day, chances are this challenge isn’t going to benefit you.
Tips to get your spouse on board:
- Commit to a goal that will benefit you both
- Start slowly (weekend money challenge)
- Set reasonable limitations that you both can follow
- Show spouse savings progress during the challenge
4| Meal planing during a spending freeze
Food is usually one of your biggest expenses. Therefore, meal planning is going to become a huge part of your life during your money saving challenge.
If you’re doing a weekend or a week-long money challenge, we recommend trying to eat what you already have in your pantry. Get creative, make some baked goods.
Not only is this a great technique to save money, this is a great way to clean out your cupboards and pantry.
If you’re doing a long term money saving challenge and aren’t currently on a meal plan, today is going to be the day you start.
I’ve had the most success with meal planning when I use something like the $5 meal plan. The $5 meal plan lists out our meals for us so I know exactly what to buy at the grocery store
It helps make sure
If something like $5 meal plan isn’t your thing, you need to first set a budget for your monthly food expenses. Remember you’re supposed to be cutting back on spending for the duration of this challenge. There won’t be any going out to eat.
If your goal is to only spend $500 on food each month. You can make that happen! Make out your meal plan weekly, head to the grocery store and don’t leave the store spending more than $125.
Related article: The Best Grocery Store Hacks That Will Help You Save Money On Food
5| Things to do during a no spend challenge
In order to have a completely successful money saving challenge, you should find new ways to entertain yourself, kids and family.
My family and I like to do little micro adventures close to home. Bring a sack lunch and explore new things in your area. It’s amazing what you will find close to home, sometimes it’s things you didn’t even know existed.
Most cities also put on free events throughout the year (especially in the summer). Start taking advantage of these.
If you’re horrible at coming up with inexpensive things to do, here is a great list of 30 free things to do.
6| Not spending money
Throughout this challenge you will come across many items you will want to purchase. It happens to us all.
You come across something on the internet or in a store that imprints itself in your brain and the next thing you know you’re purchasing it.
You have to train yourself to say NO. Making sure you follow the guide you created above on allowed expenses.
These money saving challenges tend to rub off on you. Once you do one, you’ll be hooked.
They have taught us how to be frugal with our money and lifestyle. We now stay away from stores that suck the money from our pockets and spend more time outdoors with family.
Even when we’re doing no spend challenges we only shop at the mall twice a year! This keeps temptations at bay and our pockets full.
7| What do you plan to do with the money you save
Lastly, what do you do with all of this new found money you’re going to come across? You know all this money you didn’t know you had because you were to busy spending it.
If you are doing a no spend weekend or week use that money to pay off debt or send it over to your savings so you can use it for whatever you intended it to be for.
Depending on the length of your challenge and the amount you plan to save, I recommend opening a separate savings account.
This way you won’t be able to touch the extra money you’re saving.
So what do you think, are you ready to tackle your first no spend challenge?
If you have any other questions feel free to ask them in the comments below.
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