Tips for a no spend day, week, or month challenge

No spend challenges aren’t for the faint of heart.

For some, saving money comes naturally. For others, it seems like having spare change in your pocket just begs to be spent. It’s almost as if the change in our pocket was pulling us towards the cash register!

I swear my wife is a natural saver. Give her three pieces of candy and she’ll have two left a year from now.

While I applaud my wife for her willpower, I have nowhere near as much self-restraint. Which is why a no spend challenge would be good for me to help break any bad financial habits!

A successful no spend challenge can hit the reset button on excessive spending. You’ll start to save more money by retraining yourself to spend less money. So here are my favorite tips for successfully completing a no spend challenge.

No spend challenges are one of my favorite frugal living tips to save money! A no spend challenge can help you save money quickly so that you can pay off debt. You can’t just start a no spend challenge and expect it to work. Here are ideas and tips to make your next challenge a success.

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Tips for a no spend day, week, or month challenge

How long will your no spend challenge be? A day? Week? Month?

So you’ve decided to do a no spend challenge. The first thing you’ll want to decide is for how long you’re wanting to go without spending.

It’s important to set a realistic time frame. The ambitious side of me would say, “Go big or go home! I can make it a whole year without spending money!” Meanwhile, two minutes into the challenge I’d be asking who wanted to go to Taco Bell.

It’s easier to work your way up to a no spend month. Give a week a try and see how the no spend challenge goes. A work week is usually easier to do since you’re away and busy most of the day.

An important factor is deciding on how much money you want to save. You’ll save more money the longer you do the no spend challenge, but the harder it will be.


Determine your spending exceptions

What are the items you’ll keep spending money on? Yes, it’s a no spend challenge, but realistically you’ll still have to pay bills, gas, etc.

I mean who wouldn’t go to the emergency room if the need arises? I can see it now, “I’m sorry love, I can’t go to the ER! I’m on day 29 of 31 of my no spend challenge!” My wife would probably drag me into the car while I’m kicking and screaming.

So realistically, I would probably keep paying for the necessities:

  • Prescriptions and needed medical expenses
  • Fresh produce for my lunches. Don’t try eating month old produce, just buy it weekly!
  • Bills
  • Fuel for the car

So what’s on your list of things that you would continue to buy during your no spend challenge?

Plan ahead for a successful no spend challenge

Planning is your secret weapon for succeeding in a no spend month. That’s why I’m so adamant about creating an awesome budget, because planning brings success.

Your no spend challenge should just be one of the many tactics you use to save money. So here are a few tips to succeeding by planning ahead:

1. Make a meal plan

Meal plans are awesome for saving money because you’ll know every ingredient that you need. You can figure out how much you’ll spend on food which is great for budgeting.

Try and keep your meal plan frugal and inexpensive. You’re on a no spend challenge to save money and simple meals keep the cost down. Try and use more inexpensive ingredients such as potatoes, rice, broccoli, etc.

Meals don’t have to be complex! Big family dinners can be fun, but there is often way too much food. Big dinners cause us to overeat and create leftovers that may get tossed out.

2. Make sure you have plenty of stock

Your pantry is a no spend challengers best friend! A full pantry is going to help you from eating out because you’ll have food options at home.

Don’t go overboard when stocking your pantry! The last thing you need to do when trying to save money is overspend. It wouldn’t do you any good to spend an extra $600 for stock and only save $400 during your challenge.

Think of things that you might want but are inexpensive. Making oatmeal from scratch is pretty easy with quick oats and frozen berries.

3. Prepare freezer meals

I love having freezer meals in my house! It’s easy to come home tired after work and wonder what’s for dinner. Freezer meals are the quick and easy solution!

Batch cooking is the perfect solution to cooking large meals on a tiny budget. Batch cooking usually allows for plenty of leftovers which freeze easily. I usually vacuum seal my leftovers to keep them fresher longer and protect against freezer burn.

4. Minimize your driving

You lose money for every mile you drive in your car. I could easily put 18 or more miles on my car every time I go shopping. That many miles is equivalent to about one gallon of gas or about $2.50 to $4, depending on gas prices.

In addition, the more you drive your car the sooner you’ll need to perform maintenance. Cars are a nice convenience to have, but keep in mind they are costing you money.

A few alternatives are public transportation, bicycling, and carpooling. Can you use any of these methods to save money?

5. Identify your free entertainment options

Who doesn’t want to have fun? The problem is that most fun activities aren’t free! This can be a problem when you’re having a no spend month.

The solution? Come up with a list of activities that you and your family can do for free. Game night, family reading time, family discussions, family walks and exercise are all good options.

The best thing you can do is keep yourself busy. If you’re busy then chances are you’re too busy to buy things.

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Shopping online? Don’t pay full price!

If you do need to do some shopping, don’t pay full price. I’ve written a complete guide on how to get your purchases for a discount. The guide is full of some really useful tools that I discovered not wanting to pay full price myself.


Don’t let one purchase ruin your challenge

We all slip up and make a bad decision. You know, like when you start a new diet and your co-worker brings in glazed donuts? The kind of glaze that melts in your mouth and calls to you from across the room.

The sound of your coworkers stampeding towards the box of donuts makes you want to join the herd. Without a thought, your body moves on it’s own towards the donuts. The smell hits your nostrils as you find the perfect donut, glistening from your poor office lighting.

Somehow, the donut found its way to your mouth. The taste of sugary goodness delights your tastebuds. Diet? Why not tomorrow?!

Sadly, one slip up is how 99% of us lose our positive momentum. Most people give up on their diets or finances after one mistake.

Realize, that it’s ok to slip up. Don’t give up on the idea because you had one mistake. Get back up on that “save money horse” and keep your no spend challenge going.

Avoid the temptation to buy

The temptation is out there! Have you ever walked through the mall and turned your head with break-neck speed? Only to lay eyes on the most perfect thing you couldn’t imagine living without?

Never mind that you had never seen this perfect item before, you must have it! The world is designed to grab our attention and buy our product!

Turn off the TV, avoid advertisements, and try to keep yourself busy! Someone who’s too busy is too busy to buy!

You will still need to put gas in your car and pay the bills

You’re going to need to continue buying things. You’ll still need gas for your car and prescriptions should still be taken. Just don’t let buying these things lead you to buy things you don’t need.

Remember, the challenge is about breaking unnecessary spending and saving money

The importance of this challenge is to get you to stop buying the things you don’t need to buy! The vending machine sells soda’s for $1.35 and you buy one every day. This challenge is here to help you break that $40 per month habit!

The longer you go without spending, the easier it will be to stop spending money on your habits. You’ll stop hitting up the cafeteria and start bringing sack lunch. You’ll save money because you’re not buying lotto tickets each week.

What are your plans for after your no spend challenge?

What happens to most people after they go through a no spend challenge? They see extra money in the bank and spend it on worthless stuff!

What is your plan for the money you’re going to save? Will you pay off debt, build your emergency fund, build a downpayment for a house?

Don’t let the money burn a hole in your pocket. Know what you’ll do with the extra money!

Successful long-term money saving starts with a budget

No spend challenges are great for someone looking to save extra money right now. However, it’s really hard to continue your life without spending anything. Budgeting is the tool you should use for long-term money saving.

That’s why I’ve created a free course on how to budget and save more money. The course walks you through proper budgeting and other tips related to saving more money

My goal with the course is to leave your family in better financial shape when you’re finished.

Recommended reading to help you save more money

Looking for more awesome money saving tips? Check out some of these articles:

John is the founder of TightFist Finance and an expert in the field of personal finance. John has studied personal finance for over 10 years and has used his knowledge to pay down debt, grow his investment portfolio, and launch a financial based business. He is committed to sharing content related to personal finance based on his experience in his career, investing, and path towards reaching financial independence.