How to Do a No Spend Challenge

Have you heard of a no spend challenge before? I’ve heard of them. I’ve read stories of people attempting them. Some of my favorite frugal living bloggers have even hosted no spend months but I have never attempted one…until now.

You see, it feels like the right time. Our budget is doing fine but we have some large expenses looming. Namely a new roof. Because, there’s nothing like discovering the ceiling in your son’s room leaking on Christmas morning to move up the time table on that new roof. Since we need to be ready with $5,000 for a new roof in just another couple months, we need to focus on saving in any way we can. A no spend challenge seems like the perfect way to boost our savings in a short amount of time. 

What is a no spend challenge?

A no spend challenge is simply what the title implies. A no spend challenge is trying to drastically cut your spending and spend no more than you absolutely have to spend. 

How long does a no spend challenge last?

A no spend challenge can be as long or as short as you want it to last. Some people do no spend challenges that last for a week or two, but the most common increment is probably a month. Doing it for much longer than a month is probably not wise as it does take a lot of commitment.

For us, we are going to tackle this no spend challenge for the entire month of February. As I said, we’ve never done one before so I’m a bit nervous but rather excited.

What are the rules of a no spend challenge? 

This is the brilliant part of a no spend challenge. The rules are whatever you want them to be. Obviously, the most important rule is to spend as little money as possible during this month. Your rules must account for your family and your own unique circumstances.

Here are some of the rules my husband and I set for ourselves.

  1. We will pay our household bills and church offering as usual.
  2. We will still fill up with gas but try to limit our driving as much as possible. Since my husband teaches a half hour away from where we live, gas is a large category in our budget. However, we are going to combine errands as much as possible.
  3. We will lower our grocery budget from $260 to $60 (or less) to buy milk, eggs, cottage cheese and bananas during the no-spend month. Since I have two little ones who eat table food, I do need to keep their diet well-balanced. The rest of our food will come from our pantry and freezer.
  4. We will keep track of every bit of money we spend as well as every amount of money we want to spend – but don’t.
  5. We can use gift cards but only if absolutely necessary. We’re focusing on needs over wants.

My husband does have an away weekend basketball tournament to coach so he will be spending some money there. He’s going to try to limit it as much as possible.

We don’t do much for Valentine’s Day normally but since it falls during a no spend challenge, we are going to stay home and play board games we already have.

We have our tax appointment already scheduled with our accountant for the middle of February but that is a budgeted expense that we are definitely keeping. Side note…We’ve discovered it is well worth the cost to file our taxes with an accountant who specializes in self-employed church workers.

How do you get ready for a no spend challenge? 

Honestly? Other than discussing rules and making sure your spouse is in agreement, don’t do too much! If you try to purchase things ahead of time, that defeats the purpose of the savings. I am going to make sure we are mostly set for the month with diapers as my diaper stockpile has dwindled with 2 in diapers!

This should be a challenge. It’s not going to be easy. You should stretch yourselves and your wallet.

I would encourage you to set a goal to get ready. Our goal is to see if we can come up with at least $500 worth of savings during our no spend month. It would be amazing if we could save $1000 but since we already have a pretty snug budget, I’m not sure that we can cut things that much. We will have to see if we can!

 

So, who’s with me? Are you ready to tackle a no spend challenge? Leave a comment if you are up for the challenge!

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7 Comments

  1. I would love to try it! There is of course, license plates, taxes and insurance due this month. How do you do gas and milk, etc. like that? Can’t imagine that we do without eggs, milk, etc.

    1. Hi, Kathy. As I explained in the post, I’ve cut our grocery budget down from $260 to $60 to continue buying milk, eggs and a bit of produce. Gas is considered one of our bills, so we’re paying it as normal but are cutting all unnecessary trips and combining errands whenever possible. So, really, we are spending money but are attempting to cut anything and everything extra that we can! Does that help? You can always include those fees that are coming due this month, like we are doing with our tax appointment, too.

      1. Thanks Kristen. I thought that NO money was going out. I don’t think I could do that. There are always gas, electric, phone, those kind of bills. Thanks for clearing things up!

  2. Love this idea. However I also don’t think my husband would be on board. I like that someone else frugal pays to have their taxes done. My husband has trust land in his name that nets no money for us, but has to be included in our taxes. Yuck! I stay out of it for various reasons. Other than it costs us extra money for the form to file it and it has to be filed. We have his uncle’s office do our taxes costs us way less than places like H&R block. I think it’s $63 dollars well spent for piece of mind.

    1. We’ll see how it goes, Jackie. It took a bit of convincing for my husband, too. And yes! I used to file my own taxes but due to the fact that we’re Lutheran church workers, the IRS classifies us as self-employed ministers of religion so there are lots of hoops to jump through. We pay about $160 but the refund always makes up for it. And I’m with you. It is totally worth the peace of mind!

  3. I would LOVE to do a no-spend month with you. We’ve been examining our finances and think that, with a little luck, we’ll be able to pay off our mortgage by the end of the year. I can see how a no-spend month (or two) would help out with that goal. Unfortunately, my husband isn’t a fan of a no-spend month, so I’ll be following along in a sort of sneaky-ninja way! I think it’s good thing though that he prefers to not be so vocally restrictive. Otherwise I’d totally end up a crazy frugal bag lady that was a secret billionaire 🙂 Can’t wait to see how your February goes. Make sure to plan a few inexpensive events for yourself so that you don’t get burnout (bubble bath by candlelight?!)

    1. Way to go, Janeen! That is absolutely amazing! We’ve never attempted a no-spend month and my husband isn’t nuts about the idea, but he’s willing to give it a try with me. I look forward to hearing about your sneaky-savings! 🙂 The things we do for our families! And I can’t wait to celebrate with you when your mortgage is paid off!

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