No Spend Challenge
Sometimes our spending habits can make us stop to think about what we’re really spending money on, and sometimes we need to reel it in and teach ourselves how NOT to spend money (or as much money) on certain things. This is where a 30 Day No Spend Challenge can really be useful!
If you’ve ever considered doing a no spend challenge, but you’re a little intimidated by it, that’s okay – I’m going to cover a few different ways to do this challenge and hopefully it won’t make you feel overwhelmed!
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What is a No Spend Challenge?
Very simply, a no spend challenge is a where you challenge yourself not to spend money for a certain amount of time.
This could be a no spend weekend, 2 weeks, 30 days, etc.
And you could decide not to spend money at all, aside from necessities (a huge step!) or you could decide not to spend money in a certain budget category – such as fast food or going out to eat.
What I love most about no spend challenges are:
- They’re an amazing way to save money
- A no spend challenge can help you jump start a journey to being debt free
- Depending on how strict you are getting with the challenge, there are some spending categories you will be able to find fun, free activities in – and they may be things you haven’t done before!
- It helps you control spending and assess your finances. After the challenge, you may be shocked to learn what things you don’t really need to spend money on so much!
- A no spend challenger is a great opportunity to really figure out your financial goals, and map out how you’re going to get there (I’m a huge fan of goal mapping)
The pros for a no spend challenge generally outweigh the cons. The only con I’ve ever experienced is that any time we change a routine, things can be difficult or a little uncomfortable for a little bit!
But, replacing it with a new routine that is better for our lives, along with knowing what our goals and our WHY is, can make it so much easier!
There really are no limits to how you can structure your own no spend challenge, and I’ll go over a few ideas next!
No Spend Challenge Ideas
There are a few different ways you can do a no spend challenge, and it all depends on what your goals are.
You should also consider how strict you want to be or what kind of rules you want to put in place. We’ll go over some rules later, but let’s get into a few no spend challenge ideas first!
Before we go on, I will say that before doing a no spend month, I like to go over the previous month’s finances. I like to see where I’ve spent the most money, and on average how much I’ve spent on it in a month.
There are some places, like Target, where I spend the money but I’ve bought so many different “categories” of things that it’s hard to separate out afterward. So, Target for me often has its own budget category. It could also be put it in a category called “Department Stores.”
This helps me figure out the best way to move forward. Which category will save me the most money? Are there any categories that cutting out, or cutting back on, will have benefits in other areas of my life (ex: cutting out fast food would help my pocketbook plus my health)?
Not only does this help with the challenge, but it also helps to make you aware of your spending habits. You may already have an idea of how much you spend where, but sometimes the final numbers really can come as a shock…and be awesome motivation!
#1 Getting Your Feet Wet
A good way to start is to get your feet wet by choosing one or two things to not spend money on for your specified amount of time.
For example, if you stop at Starbucks every day before work, you might want to decide to not get Starbucks for a month and instead make your coffee at home.
You could also implement a no spend weekend, where you don’t spend ANYTHING for a weekend.
The point is, you can choose to not spend in one or two areas, so it’s not overwhelming. Or you can choose more types of things to not spend money on, for a short amount of time just to ease yourself into spending less money.
#2 Swimming in Savings
The next step up would be to pick an entire budget or spending category to spend less, or no money on.
This is really where your list of expenses from the previous month can come into play. Instead of isolating one expense (like Starbucks, for example), you can take an entire category, like dining.
Here are some budget category ideas to group your spending in…I will not include bills like rent/mortgage, utilities, etc. Remember, no spend does NOT include your required monthly bills!
- Entertainment (going out to movies, concerts, recreation, etc)
- Dining Out & Fast Food
- Shopping (clothes, accessories, etc)
- Personal Care (salon, nails, waxing, etc)
Once you go through your current spending habits, you’ll be able to make budget categories as they make sense to you!
I know sometimes it can seem daunting to give up an entire budget category, but if you have a plan and know your why for the challenge, it will get easier as it goes on!
#3 Diving In
This would be no spending at all, outside of bills and necessities.
This option is going to give you the MOST savings, but it’s also the most challenging!
Once again, you can decide to do this for a week, 2 weeks, or a month!
I have not personally done a complete no spend challenge for an entire month, but my husband and I have done it for 2 weeks.
Another thing to consider in this, is to allow yourself one cheat day. The cheat day shouldn’t be going crazy on a shopping spree and eating all 3 meals out! If you go this route, you do risk spending so much that your savings are less impressive at the end of the challenge!
Instead, try a cheat day where you can go out to dinner, or you can do that Target run but your budget is HALF of what you would have initially spent!
No Spend Challenge Printable Tracker
The 30 Day No Spend Challenge printable tracker has a spot at the top for you to write in what you will not spend money on. I would also include the average you spend each day here, so you can easily reference that.
Below that, the circles are big enough for you to write in at the end of the day how much you saved by not spending in that category or on the thing you are not buying for a month.
There are 5 circles in each row (6 rows, so a total of 30 days!), and at the end of the row there is a spot to write in how much you’ve saved over those 5 days.
Then, after the 30 days, you can write in at the bottom how much you’ve saved total!
Since you’ll be getting ALL of the 30 day challenge printables, there is also a habit tracker at the beginning of the printables. If you’d like to structure your 30 day no spend challenge differently, you can use this habit tracker to do so!
With the habit tracker version, you write in your habit and goal at the top – this would also be a good place to put your why! Then you can cross off or fill in a circle for each day you’ve completed it.
At the bottom, there’s a spot for reflection after the challenge. How does it feel to be done? What would you do differently? What was the hardest? Did it get easier? This is also a good place to write down how much you saved!
The other 30 day challenge printables included in this printable pack are:
- 30 Days of Hydration
- 30 Day Step Challenge
- Sugar-Free Challenge
- Caffeine-Free Challenge
- 30 Days of Reading
- 30 Days of Gratitude
- 30 Days of New Things
- 30 Days of Journaling
- 30 Days of Self Care
- 30 Days of Decluttering
- 30 Days of Kindness
- 30 Day Saving Challenge
Grab all your 30 Day No Spend Challenge printable, along with all the other printables below!
How To Successfully Complete a No Spend Challenge
Now that we’ve outlined what a no spend challenge is, and a few different ways to go about them, we can move on to finding ways to be SUCCESSFUL at the challenge!
After all, setting ourselves up for success is SO important to making sure we are able to stay motivated throughout the entire challenge!
No Spend Month Rules
Making rules will come easier as you go through your first no spend challenge, but it is good to have a starting point.
We get a lot of coffee and fast food lunches when we’re at work. This was the biggest, most glaring thing standing out when we went through finances.
So, here’s how we structured it:
- Only can purchase coffee before work on Saturdays
- I would not have any lunch out at work, and my husband would only have lunch out one day each week.
- Honesty – if one of us spent on our no-spend items, we were totally honest about it!
We didn’t need a lot of rules for this one. I did, however, compare how much our grocery bill went up since we were now making lunches every day (spoiler alert: it didn’t go up nearly as much as we were saving, so bringing your own lunch is definitely cheaper).
Please just be forgiving of yourself if you do something outside of your challenge.
It’s totally okay! You’ll still be saving money, and if you really want, you can tack another day onto the end of the challenge!
Maybe you will need more rules for yourself, maybe you’ll need less. Our brains all work differently – just don’t overcomplicate it or put too many rules on it so you don’t want to actually do the challenge!
How To Spend Less Money
Getting into a mindset of not spending as much money is another great way to help ensure your success in a no spend challenge!
When thinking of how to not spend money, sometimes it can be hard because we don’t even really realize exactly how much we’re spending in some places! This is why I really encourage you to take the step of going through your previous month’s finances.
If you were to say “I need to figure out how not to spend money on Starbucks,” you could probably just say you’re going to make your coffee or tea at home for the next 30 days.
And that’s great – but will that be enough for you to sustain it for 30 days? Just that simple decision?
Maybe! But if it isn’t and you turn out to be struggling through your challenge, I would suggest making sure you write down your WHY somewhere!
Knowing your why can be that extra motivation you need when you’re tempted to swing through the drive thru for a quick snack after work, or to buy some new shoes online because a good coupon came out!
Here are some ideas for a why:
- Saving for Christmas? Getting ready for holidays all year this year?
- Paying down debt such as a big credit card bill, student loans, etc?
- Saving for a big thing? Car downpayment, house downpayment, vacation,etc.
- Saving in general?
- Are you trying to start an emergency fund?
Here are a few other helpful tips to spend less money and be successful with the challenge:
Aside from your why, write down how you think you’ll feel after you accomplish your goal. This feeling can help you get through the most difficult days of your challenge!
Make a note of how much money you’re saving as you go along – as you see it build up, it will keep you motivated!
Have a savings goal – putting a target number on it will help you know if you are on track or can afford a cheat day!
Outline your goals – I’m a huge fan of goal mapping and breaking your goals down into smaller goals and actionable tasks. I love it so much that I made a workbook for it! You can check out my Goal Planner Workbook here!
Make a vision board – vision boards have been proven to be helpful in accomplishing our goals! Check out this article from Huffpost about why vision boards work, and how to make one!
What To Do After a No Spend Challenge
Maybe when you’re finished with this challenge, you’ll want to implement no spend days throughout the week, or 2 no spend weekends per month. Maybe you’ll want to try another month by cutting expenses in a different category.
This is a really great way to really test your wants vs your needs, and analyze your spending habits. I love doing a no-spend challenge as a way
You could also look into ways of making extra cash during this time to really boost your savings or debt payoff!