Challenge Yourself With a No-Spend Month To Save Money (2024)

If you’re looking to supercharge your savings, a no-spend challenge may be a good way to start. A no-spend challenge is a period of time when you commit to not spending money on non-essentials. Many people do no-spend challenges for one month, but if that sounds intimidating, you could start small with one week, or even one day.

While a no-spend month may sound daunting, the challenge aspect may actually be fun. Learn how to complete a no-spend month to conquer your financial goals.

Evaluate Your Spending

Before you start your no-spend month, look at where your money is going each month. Review your paychecks, bank statements, and receipts. Next, divide your expenses into necessities and extras—the latter is what you’ll temporarily live without during the challenge. Then make a written budget so you can plan for the no-spend month.

Most necessities will be pretty obvious: your rent or mortgage, minimum monthly debt payments, groceries, medications, and insurance. Likewise, you’ll probably find spending categories you can live without, such as dining at restaurants or ordering takeout, manicures, or late-night online impulse buys. These should be added to your no-spend list.

Some categories may not be so obvious. Filling up your gas tank may be necessary if you drive to and from work. However, if you work from home, you may be able to cut gas from your budget and walk or bike when needed instead. Consider each expense before putting it into one of the two categories.

There may also be some things you could live without if you were forced to, but maybe aren’t worth cutting. For example, spending $8.99 a month on a basic Netflix subscription may be worth it to you because it buys you hours of entertainment and helps you avoid spending money on other things, such as more-expensive tickets to a movie theater.

Why Are You Not Spending? Set a Goal

Cutting extras out of your budget isn’t going to be easy. You need to have a reason for not spending that money if you want to stay motivated. So before you get started, set a financial goal and write it down.

“Save more money” may not be a good enough goal because it’s very general. Instead, use the SMART goal format: Your goal should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timebound.

Here are a few examples of SMART goals:

  • Add $100 to the emergency fund in one week by cutting out unnecessary spending.
  • Reduce a credit card balance by $500 in one month by doing a Frugal February challenge.
  • Save an additional $1,000 for a down payment fund in 30 days by cutting all extras from the budget.


Research shows that setting specific, difficult goals actually leads to higher performance and more positive outcomes. So if a no-spend month with a goal to save $500 seems like a tough challenge, you may find it even more rewarding in the end.

Don’t Do It By Yourself

A no-spend month doesn’t have to be a no-fun month. Try enlisting others—your partner or spouse, your kids, or your friends—to do a no-spend challenge as well. Not only can you hold one another accountable, but you can come up with ways to not spend money together.

For example, if you and your spouse have date night once a week at a restaurant, you could make a date out of cooking together at home every Friday instead. Rather than meeting up with friends for happy hour at a bar, you could take turns hosting BYOB happy hours at home on Wednesdays.

Be Prepared for Bumps in the Road

Don’t expect everything to go smoothly when you’re doing a no-spend month. Unplanned necessary expenses may come up. Don’t be so committed to your no-spend month that you avoid going to the doctor or refuse to take your car to a mechanic even though the check-engine light is on. Take care of yourself and worry about the challenge later.

Also, accept that you may slip up during your no-spend month—but it’s OK. Let’s say you order takeout instead of cooking after an exhausting day of work. Give yourself a break. You haven’t failed at your challenge. Remind yourself of your goal, whether it’s saving more money or getting out of debt, to motivate yourself and get back into no-spend mode.


If you end up spending money on non-essentials during your no-spend month, look for ways to spend even less money on essentials to make up the difference. For example, maybe you can freeze your gym membership and work out at home instead, or look for more coupons that can help you save money at the grocery store that week.

Track Your Progress

As you move through your no-spend challenge, track your progress. A budgeting app can help you monitor how much you’re actually spending and saving. But to stay motivated and create lasting habits, you may want to go further.

If you’re a visual person, consider downloading or creating debt payoff or savings charts that you can color in every day. This will help you see how much you’ve accomplished. Pinterest and websites such as may be a good place to find these charts.

You could also keep a journal, especially when you’re tempted to spend. Think about what you’re feeling at that moment. Are you feeling stressed, tired, or anxious? Write it down so you can reflect and learn from the situation.

If you’ve enlisted someone else to join you in your no-spend month challenge, try setting up a time to check in each week, such as every Saturday morning over coffee at your home. You can share your wins, your failures, and how you’re feeling.


To keep your spending in check, try thinking of purchases in terms of hours worked instead of dollars. For example, if you earn $20 per hour at your job, a $100 purse would equal five hours of work. Is it worth it?

The Bottom Line

A no-spend month can help you save more money or reduce debt—but it may not be right for everyone. You may find that a better approach is to make smaller, more permanent cuts to your budget.

If you’ve tried a no-spend challenge and decided it doesn’t work for you, that’s OK. Focus on your long-term goals, such as saving for retirement, building an emergency fund, or paying off high-interest debt. There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy to accomplish any of these financial goals.

A no-spend month will look a little different for everyone. You get to decide how far you’re willing to take it. If you try a no-spend challenge and it doesn’t go perfectly, focus on the wins, no matter how small. Every extra dollar is a step in the right direction.

Challenge Yourself With a No-Spend Month To Save Money (2024)


Challenge Yourself With a No-Spend Month To Save Money? ›

For the no-spend challenge, you pay for essentials only for a set period of time. Thirty days is pretty common, so you might hear it called a no-spend month too. Basically you're covering your Four Walls (food, utilities, shelter and transportation) and other necessities, but you're saying no to all the extras.

How to do a 30 day no spend challenge? ›

This viral trend involves going as long as possible without spending money on non-essential. (Rent, groceries and other necessities are okay.) Participants track their progress on a calendar, trying to rack up as many consecutive no-spend days as possible.

What is the 50 30 20 rule? ›

The 50-30-20 rule recommends putting 50% of your money toward needs, 30% toward wants, and 20% toward savings. The savings category also includes money you will need to realize your future goals.

What is a no buy challenge? ›

The 'No Buy Challenge' is a strategic approach to saving money by abstaining from unnecessary expenses. It's not about depriving yourself but rather reevaluating your spending habits and focusing on essential needs.

How can I save money and not spend unnecessarily? ›

How to Stop Spending Money
  1. Meal plan to save money. Meal planning is a great way to save money. ...
  2. Fun and frugal activities. ...
  3. Educate yourself. ...
  4. Cleaning saves money and sanity. ...
  5. Accountability buddy. ...
  6. Visualize your saving goals. ...
  7. Price comparison. ...
  8. Build good spending habits.

How to save $1,000 in 30 days challenge? ›

11 Easy Ways to Save $1,000 in 30 Days
  1. Create a Budget. ...
  2. Automate Your Savings. ...
  3. Create a Savings Bingo Sheet. ...
  4. Negotiate Your Bills. ...
  5. Separate Wants From Needs. ...
  6. Plan Your Meals. ...
  7. Buy Generic Brands. ...
  8. Cancel Unnecessary Subscriptions.
Sep 26, 2023

What is the $100 in 30 days challenge? ›

The goal of the Challenge is simple: save $100 in a 30-day time period through a series of gradually increasing deposits. November has 30 days so every day is a savings day. As shown in the picture below, daily savings deposits start at $1 a day for five days followed by $2, $3, and $4 each for five days.

Is 4000 a good savings? ›

Are you approaching 30? How much money do you have saved? According to CNN Money, someone between the ages of 25 and 30, who makes around $40,000 a year, should have at least $4,000 saved.

How much should I save per month? ›

How much should you save each month? For many people, the 50/30/20 rule is a great way to split up monthly income. This budgeting rule states that you should allocate 50 percent of your monthly income for essentials (such as housing, groceries and gas), 30 percent for wants and 20 percent for savings.

How much savings should I have at 50? ›

How much money you should have saved by 50, according to financial experts. By age 50, most financial advisers recommend having five to six times your annual salary saved. While wages fluctuate quarter to quarter, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates the average annual salary is about $61,900.

How not to spend money for a month? ›

Navigating a “No-Spend Month”
  1. Find your “why” To better hold yourself accountable for your spending this month, take a moment to really think about why you wanted to do this challenge in the first place. ...
  2. Prepare your phone. ...
  3. Create a meal plan. ...
  4. Subscriptions. ...
  5. Get a friend or significant other involved.
Nov 8, 2023

How to not shop for one month? ›

8 Tips For Doing A No-Spend Month
  1. Time It Right. A financial fast is a terrible idea around the holiday season, of course. ...
  2. Establish Rules. ...
  3. Plan Your Meals. ...
  4. Go Public With Your Goals. ...
  5. Set Up Obstacles To Spending. ...
  6. Start Having Fun (Yes, Really) ...
  7. Focus On The Future. ...
  8. Be Kind To Yourself.

How to do the no spend challenge? ›

For the no-spend challenge, you pay for essentials only for a set period of time. Thirty days is pretty common, so you might hear it called a no-spend month too. Basically you're covering your Four Walls (food, utilities, shelter and transportation) and other necessities, but you're saying no to all the extras.

What are the four walls? ›

Personal finance expert Dave Ramsey says if you're going through a tough financial period, you should budget for the “Four Walls” first above anything else. In a series of tweets, Ramsey suggested budgeting for food, utilities, shelter and transportation — in that specific order.

What's better money or credit? ›

Your spending habits will help settle the cash vs. credit debate. Cash is better if you tend to overspend or need help maintaining a budget. Credit cards will help build credit and earn rewards if you spend more responsibly.

How do I start a no-spend challenge? ›

How To Do A No-Spend Challenge
  1. Determine Your Goals. Having a goal motivates you when you feel like buying that pair of shoes or eating out that night. ...
  2. Set A Timeline For The Challenge. ...
  3. Establish Your Spending Guidelines. ...
  4. Create A Budget. ...
  5. Plan Meals, Entertainment And Other Activities. ...
  6. Track Your Progress. ...
  7. Don't Give Up.
May 2, 2023

What is the 30 day challenge rule? ›

Body level 30 Day Challenges
  • Take a cold shower.
  • Get up early.
  • Get 8 hours of sleep.
  • Don't drink alcohol.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Don't eat anything sweet.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Run.

How do you have a successful no-spend month? ›

Navigating a “No-Spend Month”
  1. Find your “why” To better hold yourself accountable for your spending this month, take a moment to really think about why you wanted to do this challenge in the first place. ...
  2. Prepare your phone. ...
  3. Create a meal plan. ...
  4. Subscriptions. ...
  5. Get a friend or significant other involved.
Nov 8, 2023

How do you stick to a no-spend challenge? ›

Keep account

A good way to stay motivate is to track your progress so you can see how far you have got towards your goal. There are various ways to do this. Try printing off a no-spend calendar and ticking off every day you make it through, or using stickers to mark the days as you go.

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