Jump Start Your Savings with a No Spend Challenge

How to do a no spend challenge

A No Spend Challenge is a great way to start saving!

Recently, my husband and I decided to challenge ourselves to do a No Spend Challenge for a week. For a full week we did not spend any money. And, in the process, we were able to save over $100–in just one week!

If you are looking to do a budget reset or save some money fast, a No Spend Challenge may be just the strategy you need.

What is a No Spend Challenge?

A No Spend Challenge is just what it sounds like–you challenge yourself and commit to not spending ANY money for a certain amount of time. 

Sometimes people will give themselves allowances for things like food and gas, if they are going to go a LONG time on the challenge.

A no spend challenge is a great way to kick start a savings goal, put money aside for extra debt payments, get a handle on your budget or do a personal finance reset.

There are so many benefits to completing a No Spend Challenge!

How long does a No Spend Challenge last?

This is totally up to you! You could try it for a weekend, a full week, 2 weeks, a month or longer! We have personally done a one week challenge and we learned lots in that one week.

If you are just trying this for the first time, I recommend a smaller time period. This way you will be more likely to succeed in the challenge, and you can always do another challenge for a longer period of time later on.

What spending is allowed during a No Spend Challenge?

Usually there are parts of daily life that are absolutely necessary for living. These are things that you should definitely still pay for during your challenge. These things are the NEEDS of you and your family and might include:

  • Rent/Mortgage
  • Utilities
  • Insurance
  • Phone
  • Internet
  • Regular Debt Payments

The things that you NEED to live every day–these you should still plan to pay for. IF you can schedule your challenge so that the payments for these items do not fall during your time line, that is even better!

However, anything that can be considered a WANT should be avoided. These things might include:

  • Eating Out
  • Coffee
  • Activities
  • Shopping
  • Clothing
  • Anything else that can definitely be qualified as a want and not a need.

Groceries and Gas can be debatable. If you are going for a week, maybe make sure to put gas in the car on the day before you start.

For groceries, this is a good time to go through your fridge, freezer and pantry and use what you have on hand.

NOTE: If you have gift cards to use for a date night or groceries, those are totally OKAY to use during this time too. We had an awesome date night during our no spend week and didn’t spend a dime because we had gift cards from Christmas to use.

How do you prepare for a No Spend Challenge?

…….Uh…. do nothing?

Honestly, the point of the No Spend Challenge is to not spend money. SO spending money to prepare to not spend money is counter productive.

Again, you could put gas in the car. When we did ours, I HAD to get the oil changed in my car (like it was bad…) So I changed the oil on Monday and we started our challenge on Tuesday.

How to do a No Spend Challenge

Decide on your Why.

Figure out why you want to accomplish this goal. Don’t make your daily life harder for no reason.

Is the goal to start saving for an emergency fund? Put more towards some debts? Save for a vacation? What is your reason for completing the challenge.

Decide on a Timeline.

How long are you going to do the challenge? Here are the three challenge levels we recommend when starting out.

A weekend–Great way to get started. Focus on free activities with friends and family.

A week. Great way to see the benefits of the challenge, without being too difficult right off the bat. A week really makes you think about the every day purchases that do and do not matter.

A month. This timeline gets a lot harder. You really focus on making life style changes that will last longer.

So pick your timeline and make a plan for how to accomplish your challenge.

Decide On the Rules.

A challenge is no good if there aren’t any rules that go along with it. SO decide on your rules, write them down and stick to them. 

Meal Plan/Pantry Challenge.

This goes along with potentially not buying groceries. See what meals you can come up with, using the items already in your fridge, freezer and pantry. It is part of the fun of the challenge.

RELATED ARTICLE: Meal Planning for Beginners

Find free activities.

This is a great time to find activities in your area that are free for families and kids. It gets you out as a family and doesn’t cost money. Win. win.

Put away the credit cards and debit cards.

One sure way to avoid temptation is to take the ease of spending away. Put those cards away for this short time.

If you are going to need to spend money on food or gas, get some cash out of the bank to pay for things. Cards make it too easy to overspend. 

Track Your Savings.

This is an important step. What is the point of the No Spend Challenge if you don’t even know how much you saved?! 

When we did our No Spend week, there was an awesome sale at the grocery store we didn’t want to miss. Thankfully we had a gift card. Since we used the gift card, we saved $25 that we otherwise would have spent.

Then we went on a date night. Rather than spending $75 on our date night, we used gift cards and ended up saving that $75. (Gift cards for date nights make GREAT Christmas gifts from (or to) family members.

So in less than a week we saved $100 by not spending our money we otherwise would have spent!

If you aren’t buying groceries, coffee, going out with friends or doing extra activities–add up the money you would have spent on those things.

If you spend $150 on groceries in a week, and manage to cook all week from your pantry, you just saved $150!

Track what you saved so you know how successful it was and how much you can add to your savings, debt payment goals, etc.

RELATED ARTICLE: Budgeting for Beginners

No Spend Challenge Final Thoughts

We actually enjoyed the challenge of not spending money for a full week. It was harder than we thought because those impulse buys are so easy and tempting (chocolate at the check out line, anyone?!). But when you don’t allow yourself to spend needlessly, you see how much you can save!

So, I challenge you to try a No Spend Challenge. When will you do it? How long will you do it? Let me know in the comments!

RELATED ARTICLE: How Much to Spend on Food

Best Tips for a No Spend Challenge

best no spend challenge tips