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30 Day No Spend Challenge

Take our free 30 day no spend challenge, and at the end of the month, you can pay off some debt or save some money for something special. Free printables to keep you motivated and on track!

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Challenge yourself to avoid spending money for one month and use this money challenge chart to keep track of your progress. Decide ahead of time what you will purchase during your no spend month (see tips below). These exceptions should be necessities that you can’t and shouldn’t go without and they can include things such as groceries and rent. No, a mani-pedi isn’t something you cannot go without :). At the end of the month, you might be able to pay off some debt or save some money for a rainy day.

No Spend ChallengePin

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A no spend challenge can help you get your spending under control or save up for a rainy day or large purchase. These no-spending tips will help you get your budget under control.

What is a No Spend Challenge?

This type of activity is often used when people want to save up for a larger purchase like a vacation or home improvement project. By reducing their spending in every possible area, they can put more money into savings.

Benefits of a no-spend challenge

This is a good way to save as much extra money as you can since you will only be spending on necessities.

No spending for a month is not always easy but you will reap many benefits.

There are lots of different reasons that people participate in these types of challenges besides saving money. But, one reason is to cause you to stop and think about the things you buy and which of those things are actually meaningful to you.

If small expenses are making it impossible for you to save for what’s really important in your life. You may not even be aware of what those expenses are. This budget activity can help you truly see where your money is going.

It also helps to develop better spending habits. When you can’t spend, you suddenly think about the things you would usually spend on without even thinking about it.

Instead of saving a small amount over a period of a few months, you can save more in a shorter amount of time. Assuming you only spend on necessities you will save as much as you possibly can in a month.

When you buy absolutely no non-essential items you probably won’t be able to carry on for too long. However, when you know it is only for a set period of time, it’s doable. A 30-day no-spend challenge is challenging but possible.

How to participate in this challenge

If you’re planning on participating in an activity like this, you need to set a few ground rules first. The most important consideration is how long the spend free period will last.

Many people opt to reduce their spending for one or two months. Others may choose to participate for 6 months or to make it a more permanent lifestyle choice.

If you want to do this activity for a longer period of time, you might want to relax the rules a bit. Then, you could allow yourself a set budget, like $50 per month, for optional expenses.

Set the challenge rules

Once you’ve decided how long you’ll be cutting back on your spending, you need to decide what categories of expenses you’re cutting back on.

You probably won’t be able to reduce your spending to nothing. You’ll need to go grocery shopping, pay your mortgage or rent, and purchase your prescriptions every month. Typically household bills like utilities aren’t included in a no spend challenge.

But, you can decide which optional expenses you will be eliminating. Popular choices include not spending on restaurant meals, new clothing purchases, and nights out with friends.

So, it makes sense to make a list of the expenses you are allowed to continue throughout your no spend activity. Then, anything that’s not on your list should be put off until the period ends.

You will create your own no spend challenge rules, but here are some suggested guidelines:

Essentials (can spend on)

  • Groceries (try to find recipes that use ingredients you already have in your pantry or freezer)
  • Rent or mortgage
  • Utilities
  • Insurance payments
  • Internet
  • Phone bills
  • Essential personal care items (try to use what you have)
  • Transportation (walk or ride your bike if you can)

Non Essentials (can’t spend on)

  • Entertainment
  • Impulse purchases
  • Take-outs
  • Alcohol
  • Non-essential personal care such as makeup or perfume
  • Tickets to most events
  • Starbucks
  • New clothes or shoes
  • Home decor
  • Hobbies

How to stay motivated

Eliminating extra expenses is definitely not easy. And, you may find temptation gets the best of you. So, one of the best ways to stay motivated is to post a picture or a note prominently in your home reminding you of your goal.

This can be something as easy as a picture of the place you want to vacation to. Or, you could have the kids draw a picture of the boat you are saving up for. Just be sure to post it on the refrigerator or the bathroom mirror so that you see it every day.

Tips for having a no-spending day

As you participate in this no spend challenge, you may be surprised by how many things you’ve been spending money on without even thinking about it. If that’s the case, here are a few tips to help you make it through the first few days.

  • Bring your lunch, snacks, and coffee to work with you each day.
  • Read your local newspaper online instead of buying one.
  • Invited a friend over to watch movies on television rather than heading to the movies.
  • Skip the pedicure and manicure and do your own nails at home. Or, give them a break from polish.
  • Take the kids to the park to play rather than to a play center or mall arcade.
  • Unsubscribe from sale alerts or deals newsletters so you aren’t tempted.
  • Put the sales papers from the newspaper directly into the recycle bucket without looking at them.
  • To make this challenge really successful put your money into a CD or an investment account to maximize your returns.

What’s next?

Once you’ve reached the end of your no spend challenge, you should take a hard look at the types of expenses you’ve given up. Evaluate whether or not they’re things you want to go back to spending your money on.

If not, continue to save by eliminating those costs. Set a brand new goal for what you’ll do with your savings.

You can do more challenges in the future when you feel your spending is getting out of hand. For example, some people like to try a no spend November to save for Christmas.

If your financial situation is pretty bad you might want to try a no spend year where you cut all discretionary expenses (i.e. nonessential spending) or, in other words, wants rather than needs. Set your no buy year rules and try to stick to them. Even if you stick to them half of the time you will improve your financial situation.

How to not spend money

Firstly, make a list of all your expenses (see our free printable need or want expense chart).

  1. Go through each line of expenses and decide if it is a need or want.
  2. Now, go through each line that was categorized as a want and try to find a free alternative. For example, if you are spending money on movies then watch television at home instead.
  3. Decide which expenses you will commit to reducing or eliminating.
  4. If you find you have extra spare cash you are not spending then why not try the 100 envelope challenge.
  5. To keep you motivated, write down your motivation for the challenge (create an emergency fund, save money for a vacation, whatever you are saving for). See our free motivation template. Put it somewhere you will see it. If you have the time then create a vision board with images related to your savings goals.
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About the Author
Nicole Bar-Dayan, LLB, MBA (majored in finance)
Photo of NicoleI am obsessed with numbers, budgets and money-saving strategies. I love helping people avoid debt, pay off loans, save and reach their financial goals. I beleive that saving money is the key to reaching your financial goals, gaining financial security, and enjoying your life.
I hope that the free budget templates, tools and courses on this site will help you reach your financial goals!

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