No Spend Month Challenge

I'm fairly frugal but I have never taken part in a no spend month. A few weeks ago, I was at book club and a few of my friends were talking about currently being in the thick of a no spend month. I had never even heard of this. Though the name was self-explanatory, the idea was foreign to me. I'd never considered trying to attempt a no-spend month. Especially as a family...with teens...who have jobs and make their own money. We don't have any debt and we live really well on a budget so I guess the idea never occurred to me. But I thought the idea of pushing reset on our unnecessary spending and being intentional in our shopping habits could be really beneficial overall.

As a frugal family, we regularly do personal financial audits for our family. This helps us stay on budget and determine where we stand financially. We often use these meetings to help us figure out where we can cut back, and how we can save money. But we never considered stopping our spending to help us save!

A no-spend month or a no-spend challenge is where you don't spend money in a certain area for a designated period of time. The rules are different for everyone, but the goal is to cut back on overspending and reevaluate your spending habits. Do you think a no spend month sounds interesting? Maybe something you would like to learn more about? Then read on! I've got a little no spend challenge for you!

family money saving challenge

 No Spend Challenge Month

family money saving challenge

After talking over some details with my book club friends, many of them said they use January as a no spend month. It's right after the holidays and they really aren't finding that they need anything. But after further examination, both of them said that February was a much better month to take part in a no-spend challenge, especially if it's for your first time. Not only is it a short month {I once was so efficient with Whole 30 that I completed it in 10 days!}, it gives you time after the holidays to prepare yourself for the no spend challenge. I'm not sure this is something I'll do yearly, but it's a worthy theory to test out.

With that in mind, I'd like to challenge all of you to join me in a no spend month this February. Even if you don't want to take part, you can follow along with our challenge and see how we manage through the month of February on a spending freeze.

What is a no spend month?

A no-spend month is a month-long commitment to spend money only on the necessities. We all have things we spend money on, many of those things are unnecessary purchases {some maybe we've talked ourselves into thinking were necessary}, that can make it difficult to save money and is oftentimes keeping you from your financial goals.

During this time, your goal is to only focus on the necessities such as bills and anything that is essential to your survival as a family. 

This means no:
  • eating out
  • purchasing any non-essential items such as clothes
  • avoid spending money on services that aren't essential such as a haircut

What keeps this whole thing fun {and appealing?} is that it's a temporary challenge. You can do anything for {in this case} 28 days. While you can choose to try and go as long as possible without spending, eventually a bill will need to be paid or you'll finally run out of food at home.

family money saving challenge

No Spend Days/Weeks VS No Spend Months

How long you want to have your no spend period is up to you. You can start out with something small like a no spend day or a no spend week and build up to a whole month of no spending. Talk with your family and your partner to figure out how long your challenge should be.

These are the most popular kinds of no spends and the ones that tend to work the best:

  • No Spend Day: For one day spend $0, this includes bill. This requires more planning ahead but can help if you're a chronic overspender.
  • No Spend Weekend: Just going one weekend can provide you with shocking insight into your spending habits! This can be a great place to start if you're ready for more than a single day of no spending. It's also a fun challenge to come up with free things to do. Check out this post: Fun and Free: How to Find the Best Free Resources in Your Community
  • No Spend Week: An entire week can help you reevaluate little purchases and help you discover more about your daily habits as a spender.
  • No Spend Month: This will take more discipline and planning, but will lead to the most savings if you see it through for the entire month.

What are the benefits of taking part in a no spend month?

A no-spend challenge can help you see those areas that you are overspending on, the choices you are making to create unnecessary spending {ducking into Target just real quick???}, and stop us from making impulse purchases. 

You can also use this time to use what you have already purchased. It's a chance to clear out the pantry and the freezer and use what you have tucked away. You might find clothes you haven't worn hiding in the back of your closet or find that you're really good at making a white chocolate mocha at home instead of picking one up at the coffee shop.

A no-spend challenge can also help you decide what is really important and what you would rather be spending your money on. It will give you an idea of how much money you are spending on unnecessary items and deciding if those items are worth bringing back into your life or not.

If budgeting has been something that doesn't come easy for you, a no spend month can also help make you aware of your spending problems. So many people really don't know where their money is going every month, and a challenge like this can help open your eyes.

You Can see just how much my family was able to save during out No Spend Challenge back in February here. 

Can a no spend month help you change bad habits?

I'm hoping to not look at a no spend month as deferred spending, but instead an opportunity to clean up and change some bad spending habits. I used to "treat" myself once a month to a coffee at Starbucks and then it changed to once a week and now it's a few times a week. I need to get that habit back in check. I want to start using what I have instead of buying what I want. So yes, I think a no spend month can help you change bad habits, but ask me again at the end of the challenge.

how to do a no spend challenge for your family

What are the rules for a no spend month?

There really aren't any hard and fast rules for a no spend month, but the ultimate gist of the whole thing is that you are cutting out unnecessary spending. This doesn't mean you won't spend a dime the whole month, there are expenses you are responsible for like your rent/mortgage, utilities, medical bills, etc...And people in your home need to eat! A no-spend month is a chance to look at removing the non-necessary expenses and cutting those from your monthly spending. What unnecessary is is something you need to define for your family.

Some people decide to only have a no spend month for eating out, others will allow you to spend money but only if it's on a gift card. Still, others give up something like their daily latte or shopping for new clothes for the whole month. It's up to you and your family to decide what the rules for your challenge will be. I'll be sharing ours and how we are doing with them throughout the month in regular check-ins on social media {follow me @msrachelteodoro on all social platforms} and on the blog.

These are our family rules for a no spend month. Check them out!

Can you use a no spend month to improve your finances?

Of course! Over the years, I've had people ask me for budgeting advice, and usually, the very first thing I advise is to start writing down everything you spend money on. You don't know what you spend until you know how you are spending it. This challenge will be a good way to track that spending {especially on unnecessary items} so that you can come up with how you want to improve your finances in that area.

You're going to inevitably save money during this month. If you have debt, consider putting your savings towards your highest interest credit card. You can also use the savings you create to help cover an upcoming expense like a trip or a home improvement. This challenge will also help you examine the financial goals you have for your future. Decide now what you will do with your challenge money and start getting excited by your goal.

Spoiler alert: Check out this post to see how much we saved by taking a no spend challenge.

tips and rules for a no spend month

How to start a no spend month challenge for your family

  1. Examine the reasons why you want to join in on a no-spend challenge {save money, reset spending habits, use up what you have}
  2. Create a set of no-spend rules for your family
  3. Make a plan so you can follow your rules
  4. Look ahead at your month to see if anything you have scheduled already will interfere with your no-spend challenge and decide how you will work around that or if you will make an exception. 
  5. Check on things you use everyday {shampoo, deodorant, etc...} and consider stocking up so you don't run out.
  6. Make a list of some free activities your family can participate in or do at home together
  7. Consider using a cash-only system for the items you have deemed necessary {especially if you set a grocery budget for your family for the month}
  8. Find support during the challenge. Ask a friend or family member to join you. Don't forget you have the most support from me during this challenge so let's plan on doing this together!
how to do a no spend challenge for your family

Some tips for setting yourself up for success with a no spend month

If you are hoping to use up food you have in your pantry or freezer, make a list of meals you can create with the ingredients you have on hand. Create a meal plan and you'll be setting yourself up for success. If you've already been creating a grocery stockpile, then try to work through some of your stockpile instead of grocery shopping. 

Budgeting doesn't have to be depriving. I think a lot of people think that it means if you cut out an entertainment budget, that you just won't have any fun and you'll be stuck inside just staring at a wall. 

Want to know a secret? We live debt free without a budget. See how!

Look for free local activities, use the library as a resource and get creative. Plan a family game night, better yet, finish a project you bought the supplies for but never got around to. 

Don't miss this post: Surprising Library Benefits that Will Save You Money

Plan ahead! Start unsubscribing from those e-mail lists that tempt you. I've been sucked in by a good sale too, so don't let them tempt you. You probably won't miss them!

Look for areas where you can cut back. For us, we took our challenge a step further by finding ways to lower our utilities during our no spend. We took our no spend challenge as a way to see just how much we could do without!

Leave your credit cards at home. Consider using a cash-only system so you aren't tempted to spend more or purchase unnecessary items. 

I wrote a post all about tips for success during a no spend month that you can check out here! 
After Your No Spend Month is Over

Use a No Spend Challenge to Help You Make a Budget

A no spend month can help you become more aware of your spending habits and help you figure out what items really don't need to be in your everyday budget. During periods of no spending, you might realize that Netflix is something that isn't worth the price anymore, or you may find free alternatives that last long past your no spend period. 

We found that when it comes to budgeting, making a budget and adjusting your budget after a no spend month can help you make better financial decision. After a month of not having something, you'll realize what you really can't do without.

Be Careful of Revenge Spending

While a no spend period can help you save money, it can also have a few unintentional drawbacks. After a month of not spending money on things like eating out or shopping, it can lead to overdoing it on all the things you cut out for a month. Remember that the goal of your no spend period was to rethink your spending habits and save money.

I'm pretty excited about this challenge. I hope you are too! I'm looking forward to using up the food in my pantry and freezer and becoming more intentional about my unnecessary spending. 

It's okay to pick back up regular haircuts after your no spend period and to rebuild your stockpile, but don't feel like you need to buy out the grocery store or go crazy with entertainment now that you're "free". 

If you want more tips on how to do a grocery stockpile check out this post: 
A Grocery Stockpile Guide: How and When to Save

How about you? Will you be joining me? If you sign up for the challenge, I'll send you my no spend checklist so that you can set your intentions and get started with the challenge as well as a daily check-in so you can track how well you are doing with the challenge. 

Get the FREE No Spend Challenge Downloads today! Sign up when you see the pop up! Or send me an e-mail and I'll add you to the list! put NO SPEND CHALLENGE in the subject.

What are you looking forward to?

disclaimer: this post may have affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing through them, I may receive a small commission. These small purchases help me to continue to keep writing content and creating at Rachel Teodoro. Thank you!

1 comment

Dee said...

I've done this before and forgot this year which month to repeat it. I thought it was Feb. and Jan. was the no alcohol month. It actually was a good reset button for me and trying to keep it to 'no spend' rather than deferred is key. It really can alter some bad habits or at least make us aware of how much we are spending. Good idea for you to share with readers, I'm sure many have not heard about it.

Powered by Blogger.