Recently, my husband and I decided to have a no spend challenge in our household. It was a week of not spending any money on extras.
Of course we paid all of our bills, and put gas in our vehicles to get to work, but we stopped spending money on unnecessary things like going out to eat, entertainment, or shopping trips.
If you are looking for a way to save up some extra cash, do a no spend challenge for an entire week, month, or even just a weekend.
Find what works for you.
A spending freeze will look different for everyone. You may decide that going to the grocery store doesn’t count towards your spending or you may choose to only eat from what is in your home already.
Whatever the case, here are my best tips for your no spend challenge.
How to Survive a No Spend Challenge
1. Leave the wallet behind so you aren’t tempted to spend money.
Just because I wasn’t spending any money, didn’t mean that I couldn’t go window shopping. During our no spend week, I went to Hobby Lobby and looked around at all of their Christmas decorations.
I pretended as though I had no cash or debit card to buy anything with. Knowing that I wasn’t going to spend any money, actually made shopping fun because I didn’t feel any pressure to purchase anything!
If you have a hard time telling yourself “no”, then leave your cash and cards at home, locked in the car, or put them in a secret pocket of your wallet. This way you not only won’t be tempted to buy anything, but you won’t be able to spend money on anything either.
2. Eat from your pantry and freezer as much as possible.
Most of us have pantries and freezers full of food, yet we often don’t know what to cook for dinner. We end up running to the store to grab something, or worse, going through the drive-thru for dinner.
It will take some creativity, but I’m sure you could put together some meals by rummaging through your pantry and freezer.
During our no spend week, I used up canned goods that had been in my pantry for a while and some food in the freezer. For lunch one day, I thought that I didn’t have anything to eat, but then I looked in my pantry and found all kinds of possibilities!
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3. Use what you have instead of buying more things.
When you are not able to buy something, you often have to think outside the box for a solution. Instead of buying new clothes, maybe it is time to go through your closet and sort your clothes.
You may find an outfit hiding in the back of your closet that you forgot you had!
Typically, my son has toast for breakfast, but I knew that we were going to run out of bread if he had toast every day along with making sandwiches for my husband’s lunches.
Instead of serving my son toast, I made muffins from scratch. We both loved the menu change, and the bread lasted all week!
4. Go to free places for entertainment.
Entertainment can add up fast. If you go to the movies, you will probably end up buying popcorn and a drink.
An afternoon at the mall usually means buying your lunch out.
Spending an afternoon sightseeing often is an excuse to get ice cream or buy a trinket, but entertainment doesn’t have to cost you money!
While we were on our spending freeze, my toddler and I went to the park, the library, and the mall play area throughout the week.
Here is a guest post where I shared 9 Free Things to do with Young Kids.
We even spent extra time in our own back yard. My son loved getting out of the house, but I didn’t have to pay for any of it!
No Spend Challenge Activities
- Ride your bike on a bike trail
- Take a picnic to the park
- Spend a quiet afternoon reading at the library
- Invite friends over for game night and popcorn (if it’s in your pantry)
- Swap DVD’s with a friend and have a movie night at home
5. Stay busy during your no spend challenge.
This is a great time to pull out the to-do list!
Start tackling those items on your list that you never seem to find time to do.
By staying occupied, you will keep your mind off of your no spend challenge, and before you know it your week will be over. If you actively find other things to do than shopping, you may even forget that you aren’t allowed to spend any money.
In the book Living Well, Spending Less*, Ruth Sukoup challenged me to reevaluate my shopping habits. She said that shopping should be purposeful not just a hobby.
There are SO many other activities that we can spend our time on which is more beneficial.
On our week off of spending, I tackled a few projects that I had been putting off.
- I touched up some walls with paint
- I organized my son’s dresser
- I sorted through a pile of my husband’s old clothes
It felt good accomplishing those tasks!
6. Remember the challenge will eventually end.
Like everything in life, it won’t last forever. Before you know it, the weekend, week, or month will be over.
Focus on your goal to save money and remember that is more important than whatever it is you are tempted to buy.
By the time your challenge is over, you will feel accomplished that you met your goal!
Surviving a no spend week is absolutely possible when you use what you have and get a little creative with how you spend your time. You may even find that you enjoy it so much, you’ll want to try it again!