How to Spend Less Money Through a No Spend Challenge

I hear, “I want to figure out how to spend less money” and “What is a no spend challenge?” all the time.  You are not alone if you think saving money can be a pain or just plain hard.
I completely understand why you feel like that because that is how I felt at one point in my life as well!  I created Money Tree Network to help others learn how to budget and manage their finances successfully.

Today, I am here to explain how to save money using the no spend challenge, and how I like to implement the no spend challenge in my life.

What is a No Spend Challenge?

Before we can dive into the rules of the no spend challenge we have to define what it is.  Essentially, a no spend challenge is when a person spends no unnecessary money for a certain period of time.

When I say no unnecessary money, I mean that you can still spend money on the necessities which I will get into next, but not spend any extra money.

I am doing a no spend challenge with a baby meme

What you can still spend money on during your no spend challenge:

    • Rent
    • Medical Care
    • Utilities
    • Basic Food
    • Insurance
    • Gas
    • Phone Bill

These are the things that I deem necessary to spend money on in my life, but you may have a little bit of a different list.  That is ok as long as you stick to it!

Notice that things such as the following are all left off my list of necessities:

    • Dinner at a restaurant
    • Going out to the bar
    • Buying new furniture
    • Buying new clothes
    • Buying the newest gadget

This is certainly not a comprehensive list of the things that you should not spend money on, but it gets you thinking in the right direction.

What Are the Rules of a No Spend Challenge?

There are some things that you need to decide on before you start your no spend challenge.  Picking a timeframe, deciding what is a necessity and what is not, and who will be involved are all things that you should decide before you start your challenge.

  • Pick a timeframe

Picking a timeframe is the first step in starting your no spend challenge.  Whether you want to do a:

    • No Spend Day
    • No Spend Week
    • No Spend Month
    • No Spend Year

You can do a no spend any amount of time you want.  I personally am excellent at starting things but have trouble staying focused, so I like to do no spend days.  I pick a day of the week when I am not going to spend any money.

I love my no spend Wednesdays because it helps me break up the week a little bit.  I don’t spend money on coffee, snacks, or going out with friends.

  1. Decide why you are doing the no spend challenge

    Your why is the most important factor to account for when doing your no spend challenge.  Whether your why is to get out of debt, save up for an expensive thing, you want to have kids or almost any other reason, decide on your why!This will help you to stick with the challenge.  You will likely struggle with it in the beginning, but you will be so grateful that you stuck with it.

  2. Decide what the necessities are

    A lot of people say to decide what your wants are and don’t spend on them, but I am coming at it from a different angle. Decide what your necessities are and only spend on them.  There is no reason to remind yourself of the things that you cannot spend money on for the short period of time.

  3. Write all this stuff down and hang it up

    Writing all of this down and hanging it up in a place where you will see it a lot will help you be successful in your no-spend challenge.  I mentioned to figure out why you want to do a no spend challenge further up.  Write it down and make sure you are reminded of it all the time!Day-dream about how much better your life will be once you have achieved your goal.

  4. Review with friends or family

    Whether you decide to do your no spend challenge with friends and family, tell them about it! Ask them to hold you accountable!  Again, it will not always be easy, but you will be thankful that you have people around you who care about you enough to help.

  5. Look for free stuff to do in your area

    A simple Google search of “free things to do near me” will likely bring up a whole list of things that you can do in your area.  Whether that is exercising at the local park, having a picnic, learning how to play a new sport, or just walking with your friends, you are bound to find plenty of free things you can do.It is not necessary to spend money in order to have fun.  Try any of the things that I just mentioned instead!

  6. Move your money

    Moving your money can help with the temptation to spend.  Before you start your no spend challenge, move your money into your savings account.  This way, you will be forced to move it back in order to spend.  I like to have just the right amount of money in my checking account at all times to cover rent, utilities, and my other expenses.

  7. Save Money

    Congrats! If you follow the other steps, you will be able to save money.  A no spend challenge is one of the best ways to save money so try it out today!

Tell me about your no spend challenge in the comments section below!

How to Keep Yourself Busy Without Spending Money

If you are looking for ways to keep yourself busy during your no spend challenge try some of these!Piggy Bank with someone saving money

    • Exercise — get your finances in shape while getting yourself in shape.  Go for walks, runs, or pickup yoga.
    • Learn a new sport — most towns have tennis and basketball courts that are free to the public.  Try learning how to play either of these sports!
    • Pickup a side hustle — a side hustle can not only help distract you from spending money, but it can make you money as well!  Try getting on DoorDash, Rover, or Fiverr.
    • Get to know your neighbors — I don’t want you to be creepy here but just talking to your neighbors can be good for you.  Learn something about them and build a relationship.
    • Watch movies — I am sure you have some old DVDs lying around your house.  Pop them into the DVD player and have a movie marathon! If you do not have DVDs then you probably have Netflix or Hulu! Have a movie marathon on there!
    • Play games — I don’t know about you, but my fiancé loves to play games.  She loves playing Yahtzee, Rummy, Monopoly, and some other games, so we play them all the time!

If you are looking for some other things that you can do to help you stick to your no spend challenge check out Modern Frugality!

How to Have a No Spend Month

A no spend month can be very challenging because it is a longer period of time.  A lot of people decide to do this in November because it sounds cool (No Spend November) but it is also right before Christmas, so they want to save some money.

To be successful doing a no spend month, you have to be dedicated.  Write down all of your reasons why and your short and long term goals.  Remember that there is a reason that you are wanting to have a no spend month!

If you find yourself getting bored, refer to the free activities that I listed above.  During COVID-19, I was doing all of these things except maybe talking to my neighbors because everything was closed!  There was nowhere to spend money which made it a lot easier.

It is never a bad idea to challenger yourself to a no spend month.  No matter how hard it is, it will help you to appreciate the little things in life.  You won’t feel like you have to keep up with the Joneses.

I personally brew my own coffee every morning, and make my own breakfast and lunch.  I am lucky and my fiancé usually makes my dinner for me.  Every once in a while, we order food, but it really does not happen very often!  I suggest really trying to live like this if possible.

White piggy bank with dollar sticking out

I have a plan I just need money

I hear, “I have a plan, I just need money” all the time.  Maybe your plan is to move out of your apartment and into a house, or to go on vacation in Mexico.  Whatever you plan is, you have to save money in order to do it.

Using the no spend challenge, can help you save the money necessary to achieve your plan.  Instead of doing a no spend day, month, or year, try to spend no money until you achieve a certain dollar amount.

Let’s say you usually spend $10 a day on coffee and lunch, but you want to save $100 for a fancy dinner.  Try putting the $10 a day that you normally spend on coffee and lunch into your savings account! Watch how fast it adds up.

Budget Challenge

The other challenge I hear about all the time is the 52 week savings challenge or the budget challenge.  This is when somebody saves a certain amount of money every week for 52 weeks.

The most common amount of money that people save is $100 every single week for a year.  When the year is up, they have $1,200 in their savings account.  This is a good chunk of money! If you can afford to put more away, I highly suggest it because the more you save now, the more freedom you will have later.

To Sum It Up…

To sum it up…we talked a lot about how to spend less money through a no spend challenge. Whether your challenge will last a day, week, month, or even a year you can be successful if you have a list of your whys! You have to know why you are doing this if you want to be successful.

Lastly, we talked a little about just how to save money in general, and how to stay busy without spending money.  Good luck on your no spend challenge! Let me know how it works out for you below.

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