How to Survive a No-Spend Month

Thinking about a spending freeze to save money? Check out these tips on how to survive a No Spend Month. no spend challenge | rules | debt-free

If you need to quickly save some money (or just need to cut back on your spending for a month), one idea is to do a No-Spend month (aka spending freeze).

What is a No-Spend Month?

It’s a period of time where you avoid spending money on anything besides the essentials.  Essentials include bills such as your mortgage, gasoline, and essential groceries (like produce, bread, milk).  Typically, you would avoid eating out, buying clothes, etc.

Set up the No-Spend Ground Rules

Each family probably has different ideas about what constitutes essentials.

Will you have a pantry and freezer challenge at the same time so you avoid even spending money at the grocery store (except on produce and milk)?  It’s a great way to clear out the pantry and freezer at the same time as lowering your spending.  Or will you still shop at the grocery store for essentials if you don’t have a stockpile?

The only rules to the No-Spend Challenge are the ones that you agree on and work for your family.

What are you Saving for?

If you have a concrete reason for the no-spend month, it’s going to be a lot easier to deprive yourself for a month.  Are you saving for a vacation?  Are you going to use the money to pay off debt more quickly?

Be sure everyone involved knows the reason for the no-spend month, and you might be more successful if you make a sign for motivation so you can remember.  Challenge yourself to save a certain amount.

Have a Plan

Know what your largest spending temptation will be during the month and prepare ahead for it.  For example, if you like to stop and pick up coffee from a shop each morning, set up a station at home to make your own coffee.

If your rules include no eating out for a month, you need to have a meal plan in place so you know exactly what you’re eating to avoid the temptation to run through the drive through when it’s late and there’s no dinner plan.  You’ll probably want to also organize your pantry and freezer so you know what’s available.

One obvious idea is to stay out of the stores.  It’s a lot easier to not spend money when you’re not even in a place to buy anything!  If you need to go to the grocery store, be sure to have a list (and stick to it).

Don’t Spend Excessively when the Month is Done

Now that you’ve gone a month without spending money, hopefully you’ve changed your mindset about spending.  You don’t want to go crazy with the spending now or you’ll erase all your savings.  Decide what you need to buy when you’re done with the month and stick to the plan.

We did a no-spend month as a family recently, and you can find out what I learned from our no-spend month.  Have you done one before?  What have you learned?

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  1. Today is the first day of our first “spending freeze” so we will see how it goes! I’m hoping that it will help me learn to postpone and rethink our spending. Those toys or clothes that I think we “need” may just be a passing fancy, right? Thanks for your article!

  2. Cassandra says:

    Earlier in life I learned about the No-Spending day, I tried it and have frequently and randomly set aside days that are no spending days…it helped me to push the reset button on seeing $$$ sit in my account and getting used to knowing that the dollars I dont spend is dollars I ‘save’ and that the money is STILL MINE. It helped me to realize that I can change my mindset on knowing the difference between my needs & wants.

  3. Georgina says:

    Seriously?! I thought that not spending money on e.g. coffees was normal if you were trying to economise.
    If someone is looking at this post/article – it’s because they have gone beyond ‘buying coffees’! They are looking for some ‘proper’ ideas.
    I thought that, as you put it: “It’s a period of time where you avoid spending money on anything besides the essentials. Essentials include bills such as your mortgage, gasoline, and essential groceries (like produce, bread, milk). Typically, you would avoid eating out, buying clothes, etc.” DUH!
    Someone who is financially ‘squeezed’ will be doing these things already. Obviously you haven’t been ‘there’ yet! 🙁 Disappointing blog!

    • Thanks for your input. If things are really squeezed as you said, then every day would be a no-spend day, so they would of course not be spending money on the “extras”. Therefore, the no-spend month is for those who perhaps can afford a daily coffee in their budget, but want to seriously cut back for a month to save some money for a vacation or emergency fund.

      • Kristine says:

        Excellent response to the negative ninny! You have some good ideas I was thinking about limiting my grocery budget as well to the bare essentials like 50$ for the perishables. And sticking to extrem Aldi’s sales… So instead of meal planning then grocery shopping I will add search and meal plan around sale items. I’m going to call it the family fast to meet our goals. Anyway thank you for your input!

        • That sounds like a great plan to help meet your goals! I usually do better with a challenge and when I can make it into a game like your Family Fast. Good luck!

  4. Jacqui says:

    I think this is an awesome idea but for me perhaps trying two weeks first. We are constantly making small purchases of things we don’t need (ice cream, coffee drinks, a bag of candy, fast food, even food when we forget to take something out of freezer). It all adds up. It is worse in the winter months since the mindless shopping becomes a form of entertainment I think. Essentials for us would definitely be fresh produce.

    • You can definitely try it in smaller doses first just to get used to it (and that would probably work better since you can reevaluate your strategy and how it would work best for you after a short period).

      My favorite part about a no-spend challenge is that it makes you think about your purchases rather than just mindlessly stopping for the small things!

  5. Veronica says:

    When I saw the title I thought NO WAY. But after reading it, I love the idea because essentials are easier to grasp than simply cutting back. I typically do well at cutting back in 1 area only to overspend in another. Example, I won’t but the lipstick and polish, but I will go get my eyebrows done. I am going to limit myself and see how much I actually save when I focus on only essentials.

  6. Michele says:

    My family will have NO SPEND WEEKENDS but I never thought of an NO SPEND MONTH…I like it. We have decided March 2017 will be our first NO SPEND MONTH. Depending on how that goes, wouldn’t every other month be amazing! I’m pretty sure I could plan a super awesome vacation with all the savings.

    • Corrie C says:

      Good luck with the no spend month! You could plan an awesome vacation with the savings, especially since you’ve given yourself enough time to plan ahead!

  7. Janice says:

    I am in a ‘no spend’ month right now. I can get past fast food, restaurants and thrift stores. I have problems at grocery stores! I like fresh fruit and fresh vegetable smoothies, so I try to shop on Monday to get the ,marked down specials, but the last two visit I also purchased marked down cheese, yogurt and a marked down pizza. I love food sales! I am spending a lot less, but still have not made it.

    • Corrie C says:

      It’s all about the rules that you decide for your “No Spend” time…so you’re definitely fine buying perishables like fruits, vegetables, and dairy. Good luck…and I hope you’re successful!

  8. Arledi says:

    I believe this would be great for my family and I to try. Thanks for posting this.

  9. Marianne says:

    Great advice! It’s a win win in my eyes! I would eat better and get am emergency fund stayed! ?

  10. Michelle says:

    I’ve always been on a tight budget having to feed 6 people on one income. I always buy sale items and plan my menu around them each time. This month I took my 18 year old with me and we shopped at the local discount Dollar (Family dollar, dollar general and dollar tree) store to see if it was cheaper than the sales at our regular store. Weanaged to cut about $4.00 off our already tight budget. That is money I’ve put back for a hard to find savings week. Last year I saved almost $100 and used it to pay a bill.

  11. I am in my No spend month. The only thing I am scared is the new movie releases, I just can’t control myself from buying a movie ticket. I have been a filmoholic my whole life. But still will control, let’s see what happens.

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