As unappealing as a no-spend month might sound, it could be the key to getting your finances back on track. And it’s ultimately a really great way to step back and reassess your money management.
What is the no-spend challenge?
As the name implies, the goal of the no-spend challenge is to not spend any extra money. To start, you set yourself a budget for necessities like food and transportation. (Don’t factor in costs like rent, a mortgage, or utilities.) Then, you decide how long you want to hold yourself to these numbers. A month is a good place to start, but you can begin with something shorter, like a week, if you’d like.
Many people choose not to have a budget for categories like clothes, entertainment, or eating out during their no-spend months — which sounds doable at first. Of course, as the month progresses and you can no longer buy that latte every morning, you realize just how much money you’re throwing away when you can just brew a pot of coffee at home. And that’s one of the great things about this money test: It forces you to realize where you’re spending money frivolously and where you can cut back.
Stephanie, who runs the blog Six Figures Under, took on a no-spend challenge for a month and these were her rules: $100 for groceries for the month and no spending on clothing or entertainment (“Our household category was over $300 the last three months in 2018,” she explained.) The only exception was paying for tickets to watch her son at his wrestling tournament.
At the end of your no-spend month (or week or year), you’ll find yourself with some extra dough you can now use to pay off debts, budget for an upcoming trip, or transfer to your savings account. Even better, you may find this money cleanse transforms the way you approach spending and amend any bad money habits.
So, don’t think of the no-spend challenge as something to suffer through for a month. Instead, frame it as a holistic reset. Now is your chance to get creative, whether that means brainstorming budget-friendly dinners, hosting game nights with your friends and family instead of going to the movies, and taking a look at what clothes you already own rather than buying a new sweater just because.